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State giving away $1,000 to residents who replace aging wood stoves

After good results with a pilot program that gives eligible residents $1,000 to replace old wood stoves with energy-efficient models, the state will begin accepting applications for a second round of funding starting Friday.

The Commonwealth Woodstove Change-Out Pilot Program, which kicked off late last month, was so popular that the state awarded the entire amount, $100,000, to low-income applicants in just 12 days. This week the Department of Energy Resources and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center will open the program to applicants of all income levels, and will issue another $100,000 in vouchers.

The program targets residents who have stoves that burn wood, wood pellets or coal. The grants will help them replace older stoves with high-efficiency, low-emission models or fireplace inserts certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Exposure to high levels of wood smoke from traditional stoves can cause health problems including coughing or difficulty breathing, development of chronic bronchitis and nonfatal heart attacks. An EPA-approved stove will substantially reduce such exposure, improving air quality and public health, state officials said.

Chris Mason, Northampton’s energy sustainability officer, encourages residents to sign up for the program. He anticipates that the vouchers, which are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, will go quickly. New wood stoves cost around $2,000, so the state program offers a 50 percent savings, Mason said.

“That’s a sweet deal and it will help clean up the air in Northampton,” Mason said. “We hope people will consider it.”

Residents interested in the program are advised not to buy a new stove until they are approved for a voucher. Vouchers may not be applied to purchases retroactively.

More details on the program, including a list of certified wood stoves, is available at www.masscec.com/woodstove.

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