Household Stove Change-Out

Air pollution is the biggest environmental contributor to mortality and the second-biggest environmental contributor to global disease worldwide. In developing countries, indoor air pollution contributes greatly to this toll. Burning solid fuels in household stoves for cooking and heating not only harms health but also contributes to carbon emissions and climate change.

In this project, an interdisciplinary team of researchers is exploring a neighborhood-scale stove change-out program to reduce emission of air pollutants by allowing users to shift from conventional stoves to a less-polluting “improved” stove. The researchers will measure air pollution and health impacts of the change-out program and also explore opportunities for establishing financially sustainable businesses to implement the change-out.

The initial focus is on a single location in India. However, the results will be informed by and relevant to issues worldwide, including international efforts to reduce the threat of global climate change by developing international carbon markets.

Year 1 Progress Report (January 2012)

During the project’s first year, team members identified the households participating in the study (all in Karnataka, India). Before delivering the new stoves, the team collected household data related to cardiovascular health, air pollution and livelihood. Next steps include delivering cleaner-burning stoves to half the households and collecting post-intervention data for all households. At the end of the study, all households will receive a new stove. Team members expect the new stoves will improve the lives of these individuals by helping reduce indoor air pollution and improving cardiovascular health.

Year 2 Progress Report 2013

Field data collection for the one-year research study began at the beginning of September 2011. A total of 187 households in the village agreed to participate in the randomized controlled trial. The first of the two seasons was successfully completed as of December 2011, which represents the pre-intervention baseline data. For the intervention group, traditional stoves were changed to the improved stoves. The second season (post-intervention) started in March 2012. Of the 187 households that participated in season one, 20 did not participate in the season two because they dropped out of the study, were unavailable, or no longer wanted the new stove. The post-intervention measurements were completed August 2012.

Adoption of improved stoves was moderate; 38% of intervention households used a traditional stove in addition to the improved stove.

Year 3 Final Report 2014

Adoption of the improved stoves was moderate; 38% of intervention households used both the traditional and improved stoves at the same time. One of the more common reasons given for this behavior was difficulty cooking certain foods with the new cook stoves. Additionally, there was no significant change in fuel wood usage for households using improved cook stoves. This may suggest a rebound effect (i.e., people are using their stoves more because they are more efficient) or that real world usage differs dramatically from the laboratory conditions. These findings indicate that the users’ preferences are an important aspect of stove adoption. Future research on the behavioral aspects of switching to improved cooks stoves is needed.

While laboratory measurements of the improved cook stove employed in this study suggests improved thermal efficiency over traditional stoves (31% vs. 10%, respectively), our measurements of its performance in the field did not exhibit large changes in fuel usage, IAP, or the blood pressure of those cooking. These findings indicate that laboratory conditions may not accurately indicate cook stove performance in real world settings, and illustrates the need for more studies of this nature.

Household Stove Change-Out Final Report (PDF)

Project Lead