The agency in charge of protecting the Bay Area's air quality Thursday asked residents to use natural gas inserts in their fireplaces instead of polluting the atmosphere with wood-burning.
"By converting their wood burning fireplace or stove to a natural gas insert, residents can make an investment in the health of their families and communities, and make an improvement that will heat their homes more efficiently," said a prepared statement by Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
The largest source of winter air pollution is the Bay Area's 1.4 million fireplaces, the air district said in a news release title, "Don't Burn Through Another Tax Refund."
"Wood smoke contains harmful pollutants such as particulate matter and carbon monoxide, as well as toxins, which are linked to increased cancer rates," the agency said. "Converting to a natural gas insert can provide the same cozy ambiance while substantially reducing harmful emissions inside and outside the home."
Citing tax expert Steven Sui saying homeowners in the Bay Area will receive refunds above the national average of $3,500, the air district asked residents to consider using their refunds for gas inserts.
The agency's release quoted Daniel Waitz, owner of Berkeley Heat and Tubmakers, which charges $3,500-5,000 to install a gas insert: “In addition to creating pollution, fireplaces are also notoriously inefficient heaters. Natural gas is not only clean burning, but it’s more efficient. Fireplaces suck hot air out of the house and up the chimney – all while spewing hazardous soot that affects the health of residents and pets throughout the region. In fact, 85 percent of heat is lost through a chimney.”
As an incentive switch from wood-burning, Waitz will waive the sales tax for anyone who mentions Winter Spare the Air when purchasing a gas insert during the next three months, the air district said.