Wood Stoves

Wood smoke from inefficient wood-burning appliances is a substantial source of air pollution in the Lake Tahoe Region. The smoke emitted from incomplete wood combustion contains fine particulate matter, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon monoxide and toxic air pollutants. Atmospheric inversions occur regularly in the wintertime, which prevent smoke from leaving the Basin. These inversion layers trap smoke close to the ground and Lake surface resulting in elevated pollution levels, poor visibility and declined lake clarity.

According to the EPA, open fireplaces emit an average of 28 lbs of fine particles per one million BTU of heat output and uncertified woodstoves emit 4.6 lbs. These wood-burning appliances can be a long-term, persistent contributor to air pollution and pose serious public health threats (e.g. asthma). Nitrogen deposited into the lake from smoke feeds harmful algae growth and contributes to declines in Lake Tahoe’s water clarity.

stove emissions

via epa.gov

Newer, efficient, EPA-certified woodstoves burn one-third less wood and can result in particular matter emission reductions equivalent to removing five diesel buses from the roads. EPA compliant wood stoves emit significantly less particulates (1.4 lbs) by incorporating multiple burn chambers, air flow control, additional fire brick and, in some models, catalytic convertors. Upgrading to a gas stove can further reduce negative impacts to air and water quality.

What can I do?

Replacing older wood-burning appliances with more efficient heating appliances can significantly improve Lake Tahoe’s air and water quality. These higher-efficiency appliances save money from reduced fuel needs, contribute to healthier indoor air quality, and reduce the risk of home fires.  TRPA has partnered with local agencies to offer rebates ranging from $400 to $1,400 for the replacement of older woodstoves and fireplace inserts.

Contact your local office of air quality prior to any purchase or installation to find out if you are eligible

*All rebates are subject to availability of funding
*All appliances replaced under these programs must be rendered inoperable

Residents of the City of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County (in the Lake Tahoe Region):

Prior to any appliance removal or installation and to find out if you are eligible for the Chimney Smoke Reduction Incentive Program

Adam Baughman
El Dorado County Air Quality Management District
El Dorado County Website

Placer County residents located in the Tahoe Region:

Visit the Placer County Website for updates, notifications and information on the Air District’s Burn Bright Burn Right Wood Stove Replacement Program. Stoves purchased prior to receiving a voucher are ineligible for funding.

Nevada residents located in the Tahoe region:

John Handzo
Business Environmental Program
University of Nevada, Reno
(775) 834-3674
More information about Nevada rebate program

When am I required to remove a non-compliant wood heater?

For sale and transfer of private property, TRPA enacted a Wood Heater Retrofit Program similar to those adopted by agencies in such cities as Mammoth Lakes, Telluride, Aspen, and Reno. TRPA’s program has been in effect since 1993 and is designed to reduce the amount of smoke and other harmful emissions from older, less efficient wood stoves and fireplaces.

The program requires that all existing wood heaters, excluding legally-existing open fireplaces, comply with emission standards prior to any sale, transfer, or conveyance of any building. These standards can be found in subsection 65.1.4 of the TRPA Code of Ordinances. To comply, a statement from the seller is submitted to TRPA stating that either the property does not contain any wood heaters or that all wood heaters meet TRPA emission standards.