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EPA New England’s Tips for a Healthier Heating Season

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As winter blankets the landscape, many households turn to wood-burning heaters to combat the cold while keeping heating costs in check. However, not all wood heaters are created equal, and the inefficiencies of older models contribute to increased air pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) New England regional office is offering valuable tips to help you navigate the winter months with a focus on cleaner, healthier, and more cost-efficient heating options.

According to David W. Cash, EPA New England Regional Administrator, making an informed decision when purchasing a wood-burning heater is crucial. Opt for an efficient EPA-certified unit, as modern appliances bearing this certification burn cleaner, emit less smoke, and provide your family and neighbors with better air quality. The added bonus? These appliances burn less wood, saving you both time and money.

Older or inefficient wood heaters release higher amounts of fine particles and pollutants such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, black carbon, and air toxics. The EPA warns that exposure to such pollutants can lead to severe health issues, including asthma attacks, irregular heartbeats, and even premature death. This risk is particularly pronounced in vulnerable communities.

Nationwide, millions of wood-fueled appliances, including fireplaces and wood stoves, contribute to air pollution. The EPA emphasizes the importance of transitioning to energy-efficient alternatives like electric heat pumps, which have witnessed significant technological advancements in recent years and can effectively function in cold climates.

To encourage the adoption of cleaner heating technologies, federal Clean Energy Tax Credits for Consumers cover 30 percent of heat pump costs, with a yearly cap of $2,000. Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act allocates nearly $9 billion for state and tribal consumer home energy rebate programs, offering incentives for low and middle-income consumers. State-specific rebates may also be available.

EPA New England’s Tips for a Healthier Heating Season

  • Reduce heating needs and bills by insulating your home, caulking around windows, doors, and pipes, and adding weather-stripping.
  • Consider both the cost and pollution levels when choosing a heater.
  • Prioritize cleaner technologies, like heat pumps, as your primary heat source.
  • Properly store and season firewood to enhance burn efficiency.
  • Use a moisture meter to maintain wood moisture content at around 20 percent.
  • Check air quality regularly and avoid burning wood during air quality alert days.
  • Schedule an annual inspection of your heating system by a certified professional, focusing on vents and chimneys.

While outdoor fire pits and fireplaces offer warmth and recreation, be mindful of their contribution to air pollution. Check local air quality alerts and take necessary precautions to safeguard the health of your family and community. In addition to upgrading wood stoves and embracing cleaner technologies, EPA encourages the use of energy-efficiency incentives. Explore funding assistance and rebates supporting renewable energy and efficiency on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency website.

This winter, prioritize the health of your family and community by choosing cleaner, more efficient heating options. Follow the EPA’s tips to reduce pollution, lower heating costs, and contribute to a healthier and more sustainable future.

Posted In: Climate Change, Residential

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