Project Stove Swap Kicks Ash

  • May 8, 2019
  • |
  • Jon Emerson-Kramer


Kevin and his wife, Linda, applied for Project Stove Swap and were approved to have their wood-burning appliance from 1992 replaced with a new EPA certified outdoor hydronic heater. They live in Menahga, Minnesota and have three daughters. Their old appliance was over 20 years old, so they were excited to get a new one. Not only did the swap improve their quality of life, they feel it improved the quality of life in their area, too. Read more about what they have to say.

What was your experience with Project Stove Swap like?

Linda: The person who helped us put it in was really nice and he told us all about it and went through everything with my husband, so that was a really good experience and I don’t know—I’m really grateful for having the heat this winter.

Kevin: It was real good work from the vendor, wish he’d had a little better weather, but I had no problem with it. It was simple and straightforward, he made some small adjustments to the present system I had in the house and it was working better for me because it was installed by him. It’s more simplified and it’s working better, so I like it.

How did you know it was time for a new appliance?

Kevin: Our old [system] had rusted through, so it was leaking like a drip or a sweat, and we hadn’t been using it. I’d been using the backup system for a couple years and it heats the house, but I don’t like it as much.

What has the impact of this project been?

Linda: With our heat, it really makes a difference in our house; it makes it easier for us to stay warm in the house.

Kevin: Because we put the stove where we did, we kind of have it a little northwest of the house, on the other stove you can see the smoke across the yard and you don’t see that as much. The smoke disappears into the air and you don’t see the smoke across the yard. The smoke blows across the yard and into the house but we’re not always catching the smoke as much. That’s a big plus for me. It is a lot cleaner burning, being that I have a secondary burn and the coals or the black chunks get re-burned when they get knocked down into the secondary burn chamber and they get almost burned up completely but the smoke is a lot lighter in color and it’s not so heavy or dark coming out of the furnace exhaust. It’s getting burnt and going to heating the water instead of the air. I’ve noticed a lot less ash in there, it’s burning a lot cleaner. When the snow is fresh and you have a wind overnight, there aren’t those black particles on the snow…I can’t tell how much, but it’s definitely burning cleaner.

Do you want to share anything else about the program?

Kevin: I wish they would continue it so more people would have a chance to experience the program and experience the cleaner burning stoves. I see a lot of wood stoves around here and I see the smoke coming out of them and I know they’re not high efficiency and because I’ve got one now. It doesn’t have to be smoky. I wish the program had and more time to get people involved in that and that we’d have a higher percentage of the high-efficiency stoves to counter the old ones to counter the pollution part of it. I live in a rural area so I don’t have neighbors close enough to complain about the wood stove but in a town they probably would and that would be a dilemma they’d face with neighbors. I also wonder if there could be something to be done to modify existing fireplaces in a home because those are another source of the smoke in the air and making people complain or create a stigma. [The program] should probably be expanded and pushed harder and involve more people. The technology is going to advance us forward, not the cutting of the funds for it, because it’s pretty expensive to put that in, and it gets expensive and most people don’t have the income to do both and without the program they’re never going to look at the other one.


Kevin and Linda’s old hydronic heater, compared to their new one.