Time is running out to get council help to replace old, non-compliant forms of heating in Rotorua.
It is illegal to use wood burners installed before September 2005 in homes within the Rotorua Airshed - a geographical area where air quality is poor.
While it is not illegal to own one, you are not allowed to use them. Nor can you use coal burners, multi-fuel burners, chip heaters, coal ranges, cookers, Marshall heaters and indoor open fires.
This is laid out in the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Air Quality Control Bylaw for Rotorua, which came into force in January last year.
The regional council began retrofitting homes with replacement heating and insulation in 2008 and has been offering financial schemes to get houses compliant.
In the last decade, more than 3,000 homes have taken advantage of these loans and subsidies.
The HotSwap Scheme, launched in 2010, sees the cost of supply and installation of replacement heating go on to the property rates and be paid back over 10 years. It finishes on April 30.
The low-income heating grant scheme fully subsidises an ultra-low emission burner or heat pump and is for owner-occupiers who meet criteria such as holding a community services card and having a non-compliant wood or coal burner, which is the only permanent form of heating in the living area. It began in 2014 and also finishes on April 30.
The council's senior regulatory project officer, Marion Henton, said since the schemes were implemented, about 2,500 Hot Swap heating loans had been funded by the regional council.
Also, 220 low-income heating grants had been issued.
The council has also partnered with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority 416 times. The authority covers 90 per cent, or up to $3,000, of the cost of heating or insulation for those who meet certain criteria.
In partnership with the authority, the council allowed owners in the Rotorua Airshed to put the unfunded portion on to a hot swap loan and pay the balance off slowly via their rates.
Fifty-five properties had received a subsidised solid fuel burner removal over a number of years, Henton said.
By council estimates, 6,300 burners have been removed or replaced by either the council, the public or the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.
The council was asked to estimate how many burners still needed replacing and said there would be "lots of non-compliant solid fuel burners in properties" but owners did not legally have to remove them, just not use them.
"The key is that it is illegal to use any non-compliant solid fuel burner," Henton said.
The council's Air Quality Control Bylaw was introduced in an effort to improve air quality.
According to the council website, Rotorua has the worst winter air quality of any airshed in the North Island.
Approximately 228 tonnes of fine particulates are discharged annually into the Rotorua air by people heating their homes over winter and, because the town sits in a caldera, this results in smoke settling due to limited air movement.
In order to meet the safe and acceptable standards set by the Ministry for Environment, the volume of particulates needs to be reduced by 60 tonnes.
The regional council was unable to provide information about how much was budgeted for the project and how much had been spent to date, as well as the value of subsidies issued to date.
It said information would need to be requested under the Official Information Act. This will be requested after the schemes end on April 30.
For more information on the schemes and rules, go to the Clean Air Rotorua website.