Washington County, OR Changeout Success Story

The Concern

Many residents of Washington County, Oregon rely on wood heat to stay warm during the winter months. Most of the year, woodburning isn’t a problem. But during colder months, the area experiences temperature inversions that can cause smoke from woodstoves to get trapped close to the ground and create potential adverse health effects. However, the cost of a new stove is too expensive to justify the cost for most residents.

The Solution

A woodstove changeout program was launched in August 2016 by the county’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Development. Funds were provided by program partners, including the American Lung Association of Oregon, Centro Cultural, City of Cornelius, City of Hillsboro, Community Action, Intel, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the Oregon Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA). Qualifying residents could receive a rebate between $1,500 to $3,500 when they replace their non EPA-certified stove with a cleaner heating appliance such as a heat pump, natural gas stove, EPA-certified wood or pellet stove or insert, or a gas furnace.

Shortly after the program was launched, Washington County’s Office of Community Development hosted five public information sessions to discuss the new program with county residents. Each session was an hour in length and started at 7:00 pm so as not to conflict with residents’ work obligations during the day. In addition, the program organizers developed a short 5-minute video about the program which could be viewed at any time on the program website or the local news station’s YouTube channel. To reach the entire community, one of the program partners, Centro Cultural, shared information and provided application support to the county’s Latino/Hispanic community.

Results and Lessons Learned

  • As of May 10, 2017, the program has received 311 applications and has completed 102 installations. Of the 311 applications, 79 were rejected because the homeowner was outside of the geographic area of the program or because their stove was already EPA-certified.
  • Of the 232 eligible appliance changeouts, 102 are for woodstoves, 59 are for gas stoves, 47 are for pellet stoves, 10 are for ductless heat pumps, 8 are for gas furnaces, and 6 are for ducted heat pumps.
  • The county estimates that the emission of about 7.5 tons of particulate matter has been prevented as a result of the program.

The program in Washington County continues to be successful for a variety of reasons:

  • A single, dedicated program coordinator with experience in home heating, wood and pellet stoves was chosen to run the program.
  • Efforts to educate businesses and community leaders on the impacts to the local economy should the area fail to meet attainment standards were successful in securing major financial contributions.
  •  Efforts were made during the early stages of the program to understand rental housing dynamics, including the role of landlords and property management companies.
  • Early communication and coordination between the Oregon DEQ, County Public Health Department, and the Oregon HPBA were instrumental in crafting a successful partnership.

Want to Learn More?

Visit the County's Website >