People who live in the most densely populated areas of Spokane County, as well as Deer Park, have only a few weeks left to apply for grant money to help offset the cost of updating inefficient wood-burning stoves, according to the Spokane Clean Air Agency.
Those who are eligible can get between $500 and $1,000 to reduce the costs of replacing their older home heating stove from before 1995, or which doesn't meet EPA standards.
The clean air agency has regularly received state and federal grants to help residents replace wood stoves for more than a decade.
The most recent round of grant money is set to expire at the end of June, which means residents really only have until early May to apply for a voucher before purchasing a stove and having it installed, explains Lisa Woodard, who coordinates the program.
"I would say apply by May 1," Woodard says.
Importantly, she notes, the program isn't retroactive. Eligible applicants need to apply before buying a wood, pellet, or gas replacement stove. The clean air agency will let applicants know if they're approved and give them a list of participating businesses that can install their new stove, Woodard says. The business will then reduce the cost of service by the amount of the voucher.
"Wood smoke continues to be the main contributor to poor air quality during the winter months, and contains a lot of toxic compounds we do not want in the air," Woodard says. "The newer stoves are much cleaner than their 20 to 25-year-old counterparts. They burn more efficiently too, so it's a win-win for the customer, because they're saving on heating costs and improving their indoor and outdoor air quality."
Over the years, Spokane's clean air agency has helped replace about 600 inefficient stoves via these types of grants, Woodard says. In the current pot of grant money, there's probably enough to replace about 30 more stoves.
The state Department of Ecology is expected to ask for more grant money, but it's not guaranteed to be approved, as shown last year, when there was no grant program.