Vermont Press Releases

Certain uncertified outdoor wood boilers must be retired by December 31, 2012: State offers financial incentives for efficient heating systems

For immediate release
April 11, 2012

Heidi Hales
Phone: (802) 583-7155
Email: [email protected]

Richard Valentinetti
Phone: (802) 583-7105
Email: [email protected]

Waitsfield, VT – Many older outdoor wood-fired boilers (OWBs) that are not certified to meet Vermont’s emissions standards are required by law to be permanently retired by the end of 2012. Specifically, uncertified OWBs that are located within 200 feet of a residence, school or healthcare facility, not served by the OWB, must be removed and destroyed by December 31, 2012 (See 10 V.S.A. §584(g)). To assist Vermonter’s with complying with the new law, the Vermont Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) is offering a voluntary OWB Change-out Program that provides financial incentives to encourage the replacement of old OWBs with cleaner, more efficient heating units.

Smoke emitted from traditional OWBs has been linked with severe localized pollution and adverse health effects. New certified OWBs sold for use in Vermont today emit 70-90 percent less pollution, and cleaner air means fewer cases of asthma and other health problems caused by wood smoke. In addition, uncertified OWBs are traditionally one of the least-efficient of all heating systems. However, newer, certified OWBs are much more efficient. “Having an older-model outdoor wood boiler is only about 30% efficient compared to 70% efficiency for new-model OWBs,” said Phil Etter of the Vermont APCD.
Most OWBs sold in Vermont before March 31, 2008 create significant amounts of smoke, which often results in complaints from neighbors. “One way you can look at this is as a friendly-neighbor program,” said Dick Valentinetti of the APCD. “On the one hand you have an OWB owner who spent good money to get what he thought was a money-saving system, and on the other hand you have unhappy neighbors who don’t get any of the heat benefits but get all of the pollution effects. This program exists to help both parties.”

The APCD, through their voluntary Outdoor Wood Boiler Change-Out Program, is offering financial incentives to encourage people to replace their old, uncertified OWBs with these updated systems or with other more efficient heating units. “Just one thing people love about these certified OWBs is that they have so much less wood to chop,” said Leah Tansey of the Vermont APCD, explaining that, “In some cases, we’ve had reports of people burning 20 cords of wood a year in the older OWBs. That’s expensive, a lot of work, and it’s a lot of pollutants in Vermont’s air, with the most immediate health effects taking place in and around the home with the uncertified OWB.”

The Vermont APCD is currently accepting applications from existing owners of uncertified OWBs that are located within 200 feet of a residence, school or healthcare facility that is not served by the OWB. Rebate vouchers will be issued on a first come, first served basis.

Eligible replacement heating systems under the OWB Change-out Program include: Vermont Phase II certified OWBs (including pellet boilers), propane or natural gas furnaces and boilers; indoor wood or pellet boilers as approved by the APCD, or alternative heating systems, such as geothermal heat pumps, as approved by the APCD.

The timing of the program has not gone unnoticed by the APCD: Many older OWBs are required by law to be permanently retired on or before December 31, 2012. “Really, now’s the time to take advantage of these incentives,” said Tansey. “It is a limited pool of money that’s been allocated, and vouchers will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis until funding runs out.” Tansey adds, “If you think your outdoor wood boiler might be uncertified, there’s a good chance it is, and we’re happy to help you figure that out.”

Money for the incentives comes from a settlement agreement with Midwestern power generators. Particulars of the program include:

  • $6,000 to replace eligible OWBs located within 200 feet of a residence, school, or health care facility not served by the OWB, or that have resulted in valid complaints regarding emissions.
  • $6,000 to replace eligible OWBs that have resulted in valid complaints regarding emissions.

For more information please contact the Vermont Air Pollution Control Division at (802) 241-3862 or visit

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