Rebates increase for Cowichan residents replacing old woodstoves

Extra incentive provided to make the switch to heat pumps

Up to $2,000 per household is available, starting this week, 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 woodstove replacement rebate program in 2020 with increased incentives.

“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 woodstoves across the region,” said Aaron Stone, chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. “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.”

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

“Efforts to improve local air quality, such as replacing smoky woodstoves 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.”

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

A $300 rebate, plus a $50 retailer discount, is available to residents who upgrade old woodstoves 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.

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

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