NeighborWorks of Western Vermont is looking to buy people new pellet stoves. The organization's HEAT Squad program is offering homeowners up to $4,800 — the exact amount is dependent upon income — to replace old wood stoves with new pellet stoves designed to comply with Environmental Protection Agency standards scheduled to take effect in 2020. The HEAT Squad is getting a total of $715,000 from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Green Mountain Power to install EPA-certified pellet stoves or central pellet boilers. "Forty-eight hundred was calculated to be covering all costs — taking out the wood stove, repairing the chimney — for a low-income household," said Ludy Biddle, executive director of NeighborWorks based in West Rutland. The effort was prompted, Biddle said, by environmental studies showing that Rutland County has a significant problem with airborne particulates created by older wood stoves. "Because of the inversion problem caused by our valley and our mountains, we have the worst air quality in the state," she said. "On certain days, you can see the smog." An inversion acts as a cap on the upward movement of air, trapping any dust, smoke, and other air pollutants. Melanie Paskevich, program manager for HEAT Squad, said they have the funding to replace "150-ish" stoves. "We're shooting for that number," she said. "Hopefully we can do a little bit more. The goal is to get rid of old, non-EPA-certified wood stoves." Paskevich said anyone with a stove built in 1998 or earlier is likely to qualify, as are people with newer stoves that are not EPA-certified. On top of that, Paskevich said, they will offer weatherization services in tandem with the stove replacements. She said the program is projected to remove 28,000 pounds of particulates each year from the local air, but was unable to say how large an impact that would have on the air quality. "We're getting more into making healthier homes for people, outdoors and indoors," she said. "... It definitely comes with some unique opportunities homeowners can only get with this program." Interested homeowners can call 438-2303.