County Beat

Clean Air Group Installs New Furnaces in Wood-Burning Homes

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(KCPW News) It’s summer, so you’re probably not thinking about a roaring fire in your fireplace. But if Breathe Utah has its way, you won’t ever think about it again.

According to the clean air advocacy group, eleven homes in Salt Lake County rely on either wood or coal for their sole source of heat during the cold winter months. But despite the relatively small number of households, wood- or coal-burning stoves and fireplaces have been shown to emit some of the most toxic pollution during inversion season.

That’s why Rachel Otto of Breathe Utah says her group wants to replace these dirtier fuel sources with cleaner ones.

“We applied for a grant from the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) to switch out these wood-burning or coal-burning stoves,” Otto says. “Based on some local research, and based on the Utah Department of Air Quality’s inventory, Utah discovered that wood-burning is a major contributor to winter time inversion pollution.”

With the UCAIR grant, Breathe Utah will be replacing furnaces in five of the eleven sole-source homes in Salt Lake County. Otto says the Wood Smoke Abatement Program could possibly come back next year and upgrade all eleven homes if there’s interest.

“The legislature was able to give the Department of Environmental Quality some additional money to go specifically towards air quality this year, which is great. Hopefully with some grants and the Department of Environmental Quality funding, we can eliminate sole-source burning,” Otto says.

With help from the Salt Lake Community Action Program, Breathe Utah installed its first high-efficiency natural gas furnace in Kearns on Monday. The group expects to install all five furnaces by the end of the summer.

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