Woodstove Changeouts | Policy Makers Resources | Checklist for a Successful Program

Checklist for a Successful Program

Just as every community is unique, so is every changeout program. Although changeouts can take a variety of forms depending on the nature of the coverage area, there are certain qualities that are shared by most successful campaigns. As you begin planning your changeout, the following checklist may be used as a guide to developing an effective program.

Bring Together a Broad Coalition of Interested Stakeholders

A successful changeout is a team effort that has broad-based community support. There are a variety of individuals and groups that share a stake in the benefits of a changeout and can help you make the case for initiating a program in your community.

Stakeholders to Contact

  • Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) and HPBA Affiliates - Participation by local dealers/installers is critical since they sell and install the new equipment, as well as communicate directly with consumers interested in changeouts. The regional HPBA affiliates will assist you in identifying key local dealers/installers.
  • Recyclers – Identify a steel recycling facility that retailers and/or consumers can use to recycle their old, non-EPA certified stoves. The Steel Recycling Institute may help in identifying a local location.
  • Public utilities - Changeouts present a business opportunity for utilities since there are stoves that burn gas or electricity. Improvements in air quality also help utilities that must meet attainment standards.
  • Banks and credit unions - The low interest loans that are among the potential incentives offered to participants provide financial institutions with the opportunity to establish relationships with new customers.
  • Civic, professional and religious groups - Local civic, professional and religious groups are boosters of community improvements and can serve as gateways for reaching large constituencies through their memberships. The Chamber of Commerce, hospital auxiliaries, Junior League, Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary and VFW are just a few examples of candidate community groups.
  • Non-profits and advocacy groups - Every community has a non-profit and advocacy group with missions that fall in line with the goals of a changeout program, whether it is reducing pollution, preventing asthma, saving energy or helping low-income residents. Examples include the American Lung Association, Minnesota’s Environmental Initiative, and Vermont’s Biomass Energy Resource Center. Find at least one that represents these goals within your community.
  • Elected officials and staff - Whether it is a city council member, county commissioner, mayor, state legislator or member of Congress, elected officials and their staffs are inclined to do what is best for the citizens who voted them into office, and supporting clean air programs such as woodstove changeouts is good constituent service.
  • Other government health and environmental agencies - Protect public health by reducing harmful emissions in the air that citizens breathe. State and local environmental officials are under a great deal of pressure to bring their areas into compliance with federal air quality standards. They should welcome cost-effective, innovative solutions that reduce harmful emissions.

Identify Program Funding Sources

Your first step is to clearly identify funding to cover program administration and costs associated with stove purchases, installations and disposal. There are a variety of potential funding sources available at the local, state and federal levels.

Federal Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) have supplied the bulk of changeout resources over the last decade, which are part of enforcement settlements. Some state and tribal air agencies also have SEP programs.

Changeouts have repeatedly helped policymakers secure funding for emission offset programs.

Develop Effective Financial Incentives

The bulk of your funding will likely go toward providing financial incentives that play a critical role in ensuring maximum participation by consumers. A two-pronged approach that offers a more generous set of incentives for low-income citizens has become a model approach for motivating people to participate in changeout programs.

1. Incentivizing a Community

  • Low-interest loans from participating banks and credit unions
  • Revolving loan funds
  • Discounts and rebates
  • Tax credits

2. Additional Incentives for Low-Income Residents

  • Offer a specific number of clean-burning hearth products at no cost or substantially reduced cost
  • Offer a larger incentive amount for qualifying low-interest residents
  • Include chimney replacement costs if necessary.

Develop and Initiate a Public Outreach and Education Campaign

General public awareness is critical to the success of your campaign and will help maximize participation. This effort should begin several months in advance of the changeout so that citizens have heard about it several times through a variety of channels and know how they can get involved.

Elements of a public outreach and education effort typically include the following:

  • Kick-off news conference hosted by campaign organizers and supporters to announce plans for the changeout and generate an initial round of media coverage;
  • Workshops and home shows to educate citizens about how they can benefit from a changeout and to get a first-hand look at the appliances available to them with retailers and manufacturers’ representatives on hand to answer their questions;
  • News releases on campaign announcements and milestones distributed and pitched to local/regional newspapers, wire services, and TV and radio stations;
  • Continuously maintained media list that allows for quick, efficient outreach to targeted outlets by e-mail, mail, fax and/or phone;
  • Campaign website that serves as a one-stop information source on the changeout;
  • Toll-free hotline for consumer inquiries;
  • Promotional kits for retailers with a banner, hang tags for stoves, tracking slips, program background and tips for promoting the campaign;
  • Information kits with program background to hand out to the media, elected officials, community leaders and potential supporters;
  • Ad slicks and copy for newspaper, online, and radio advertising by local retailers; and
  • Post regularly on social media, distilling information into bit-sized pieces over time.

Most of the public awareness activities listed here can be done for little or no cost other than staff time and expenses, and they can result in significant exposure for your campaign. HPBA, through its regional affiliate network, can offer assistance in public outreach and education. EPA has provided public outreach and education services to a limited number of wood stove changeouts in the past.

Consider Targeted Regulatory Requirements

Financial incentives should be accompanied by supporting regulatory mandates designed to maximize the number of households and businesses that participate in the changeout. These regulatory options can include:

  • Property Requirements – Some cities and towns have considered ordinances requiring that pre-1990 stoves be updated or removed before residential property can be legally sold.
  • No-Burn Days for Old Stoves – When air quality is particularly bad, institute no-burn days that exempt gas, electric, pellet and EPA-certified wood hearth products.
  • Bans on the Installation and/or Use of Conventional Woodstoves.

Creating Centralized Local Program Coordination

Centralized program coordination is an integral part of an effective changeout, and the plan for your campaign should include sufficient staffing, office space and other resources to ensure a smooth operation. Ideally, there should be one individual in the agency administering the program who serves as the day-to-day coordinator, and that person should have sufficient administrative and management support.

Administrative functions that are part of a woodstove changeout:

  • Recruit and orient manufacturers, retailers, regional HPBA affiliates, installers and recyclers. HPBA can either help, or even take the lead.
  • Coordinate with elected officials, community leaders and other campaign partners involved in the program.
  • Respond to inquiries from consumers and staff the hotline.
  • Oversee and conduct various elements of public awareness campaign
  • Arrange and run meetings of campaign partners.
  • Setup and manage the paperwork for tracking/recording changeouts.
  • Conduct any necessary data collection and reporting for program supporters and regulators.

The key to effectively managing your program is to have designated staff and an administrative structure in place BEFORE the changeout is underway to avoid missteps and frustrations.

How to Identify Non-EPA-Certified Stoves

EPA-certified wood-burning hearth products have a label on the back or side that clearly designates that they are approved, whereas non-certified woodstoves do not. Many non-certified stoves also have solid metal doors. To identify homes that are using non-certified stoves, communities use various surveys and research techniques by mail, phone and online. If utility companies are involved in the program, they may be willing to include a questionnaire and other background materials to help determine which households may be eligible for changeouts.

If the woodstove is certified, the back label will look like the one to the right (source: EPA).

Ensure Proper Disposal and Recycling of Old Stoves

Disposal and recycling of non-EPA certified appliances are an essential component of a changeout program. When a citizen agrees to do a changeout, the old stove must be surrendered and then rendered inoperable so that it cannot be used again. In order to receive a rebate, retailers or consumers may be required to submit a tracking form that certifies they have completed the disposal and taken the uncertified stove to a recycler. Removing the door is the most common method for disabling an uncertified stove.

A mechanism for stove disposal and recycling should be included in your plan prior to implementation. This involves identifying at least one recycler that is equipped to process the stoves, as well as an area for retailers to temporarily store disabled stoves until they are picked up by the recycler. The Steel Recycling Institute or regional HPBA affiliate can also help in the disposal and recycling of old stoves.

Members of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) and its regional Affiliates are the leading companies that produce, sell, or service appliances and accessories in the hearth and barbecue industries in North America. Join today to take advantage of all the benefits your company will receive.

Learn How ›