CVRD is offering rebates to those switching from wood-burning appliances to heat pumps. (File photo)

Rebates offered to Cowichan residents to switch from wood-burning appliances to heat pumps

Initiative intended to help deal with health issues

Starting this week, up to $2,000 per household is available to help Cowichan residents make the switch from wood-burning home appliances to heat pumps.

Motivated by health concerns associated with poor air quality in the Cowichan Valley during the winter when wood heating is prevalent, the Cowichan Valley Regional District is continuing its wood-stove replacement rebate program in 2020 with increased incentives.

The primary concern with wood burning is the release of fine particulate matter, which can travel deep into the lungs, making it harder for people to breath, triggering asthma and heart attacks, and causing chronic illnesses.

In the Cowichan Valley, hospital admission rates for children with respiratory illness is 70 per cent higher than the B.C. average, and chronic respiratory illness for people over 45 years of age is 50 per cent more common than in B.C. as a whole.

“We’re proud of the success we’ve seen through this program since it began in 2009, as it’s helped to replace 1,100 smoky old wood stoves across the region,” said Aaron Stone, chairman of the CVRD.

“This year we’re providing additional support to those homes making the transition to heat pumps, helping to clear the air as well as reduce the carbon footprint of our communities.”

To streamline the wood stove rebate program with initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the CVRD will no longer offer rebates for replacing wood stoves with gas or propane heating appliances.

A $300 rebate, plus a $50 retailer discount, is available to residents who upgrade old wood stoves with cleaner, EPA-certified wood or pellet appliances.

For those households replacing wood-burning appliances with heat pumps, the 2020 program offers a $1,850 rebate, plus a $150 retailer discount.

“Efforts to improve local air quality, such as replacing smoky wood stoves for cleaner home heating, can benefit health overall in the Cowichan Valley,” said Dr. Shannon Waters, medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley region.

“An added bonus with a heat pump is that it can also cool your house, which is important as summers are predicted to become increasingly hotter.”

For more information about the CVRD’s wood stove rebate program, home heating and real-time air quality in the Cowichan Valley, visit www.cvrd.bc.ca/woodstove.

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