The wood fire heating industry says lower emissions and higher efficiency have given their products a bright future, despite the ACT government's warning of home heaters being the largest source of air pollution in Canberra.
The government says its buyback program has taken out 1000 wood heaters since 2004, and 58 since 2014.
The rebate changed last year to $1100 for ducted gas systems, and $1100 rebates for ducted electric systems were added in November 2015. Five householders have taken up this rebate.
A government spokeswoman cites the Environment Protection Authority's 2015 ACT air quality report as evidence of the programs' success. The report found Canberra's air quality to be excellent.
But Fyshwick Home and Heating owner Mike Bresnik, says the buyback program has been an abysmal failure.
"In total numbers, for whatever they replace in a season, I have sold three times the amount of wood heaters, that's not counting what my competitors do," Mr Bresnik said.
Mr Bresnik believes people who have a wood heater they never intended to use take up the buyback offers. "It's an easy way of getting a few bob to swap it over," he said.
He says he has battled Tuggeranong Community Council and the ACT government on smoke pollution, and complaints have died down compared to 10 to 15 years ago, mainly from Tuggeranong valley, because of better emission standards.
Tuggeranong Community Council president Glenys Patulny says smoke pollution remains an issue, and she suspects older heaters are the problem, although the smoke haze has diminished in recent years.
Mr Bresnik says wood heater retailers explained to customers quality of wood was essential and quantity relative to size of home. "You are welcome to drive by at 8pm and I'll guarantee there will be four or five heaters burning overnight in Wollongong Street [Fyshwick], given there are the three shops in the street, and you never see a smoke haze."
Mr Bresnik says premium wood at $300 a tonne is cheaper than most forms of heating.
Australian Home heating Association spokesman Bruce Mogg says the industry has achieved significant improvements in lower emissions and better efficiency. Older heaters produced about 4 grams of smoke per kilogram of wood, whereas the current standard is 2.5 grams of smoke per kilogram, and the new standard, to be introduced in 2019, is 1.5 grams of smoke per kilogram of wood.
Mr Mogg says sales have been at the same level for a decade. "There is not massive growth, unless it is particularly cold. It is a bit like retailing clothing.
"There are about 40,000 to 50,000 wood heaters sold in Australia each year," Mr Mogg said.
Sapphire Coast Firewood employee Gary Trounson helps gather wood from out west in places like Condobolin and Nyngan, and the South Coast. Mr Trounson says customers have preferences, and request wood from certain locations.
"Wood sales aren't just based on seasonal changes, we do a lot of stove wood and pizza places. We do sales through the summer, we have specials that go on before the winter season starts," he said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.