By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cozy up to a cleaner burning heat source this winter

Just in time for the cold, wet weather, the Valley Air District’s new voucher program is in full force and can help residents in the 209 take advantage of staying warm much more economically this winter.

Robert Guardiola of All Brands in Riverbank is a local contractor who specializes in bringing warmth to families up and down the Central Valley.

“We’ve actually been in the industry since 1998 and we opened this store last year,” he said of their location at 3331 Atchison St. in Riverbank. “We thought this area needed a location, there was nobody else here.”

While the storefront is in Riverbank, Guardiola said they cover all of the 209, with in-home consultations, installation, sales and service. They have wood, gas and pellet stoves and inserts, decorative and functional fireplaces, pellets, outdoor grills and heaters; just about everything to not only heat your home but also for outdoor entertaining needs. Along with sales of Douglas fir pellets for heat, the firm sells barbecue pellets, in many varieties, for use in home barbecuing, with everything from Northwest Apple to Country Cherry.

“We service, we sell, we install,” Guardiola said. “From A to Z, we are a complete service.”

The business also has the voucher applications for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s ‘Burn Cleaner’ program, which helps residents pay for the cost of a new, cleaner burning heat source.

The amount of money paid by the air district can range from up to $1,500 for a standard application to $2,500 for low-income applications and an additional $500 is available for installation costs on a gas device.

In many cases, Guardiola said, the voucher program virtually pays the homeowner to convert to the cleaner, more economical heat source so it is ultimately better all the way around.

“It’s a fantastic program,” Guardiola said. “Last year people could get $100 for (replacing) wood stoves, $250 for pellet stoves and $500 for gas inserter stoves, those numbers have tripled.

“We live in a valley here where everybody else’s pollution comes in and just wants to hang around and just by replacing the stoves, it makes for a lot easier breathing in the winter time.”

The storefront on Atchison Street has many of the firm’s products on display and Guardiola said there is financing available. A lot of their work this fall has been in replacing older, dirty burning stoves and open hearth fireplaces with the cleaner burning products, which also can help residents reduce their overall energy bill.

“We have financing, 90 days same as cash but we always encourage people to talk with their own bank,” Guardiola said of the investment. “With this program, though, not a lot of people need the financing.”

They sell pellets at the Atchison storefront as well and one pallet of pellets (one ton) is typically enough to take a family through an entire winter.

“There’s usually a three- to seven-year payback period on energy savings to purchase our stoves,” Guardiola said. “But this new program from the air district allows us to reach out to another demographic, people that maybe couldn’t afford our stoves before, now they can upgrade, get the new cleaner burning unit, more heat, it’s a win-win situation.”

According to a press release from the Air Pollution Control District, newly enacted amendments to the annual ‘Check Before You Burn’ program will help reduce winter air pollution while allowing residences with cleaner units to use them more frequently. Check Before You Burn curtails wood burning when air pollution levels climb.

During the annual Check Before You Burn season, which runs from November through February, the Air District issues a daily wood-burning forecast by county. This year, the forecasts will be one of the following: “Burning Discouraged,” “No Burning Unless Registered” or “No Burning.” In order to be allowed to burn during days when the forecast is “No Burning Unless Registered,” residents must register their emission-compliant wood-burning devices (such as those available through All Brands) with the District. There is no fee to register this year. When burning is prohibited outright, no wood-burning device may be used. Residents can visit to register their device.

Air district officials remind residents that there are two exceptions to wood-burning prohibitions, if the home doesn’t have another source of heat or if the home doesn’t have access to natural-gas service (even if propane is used). Fireplace, stoves and inserts that run on gas or propane continue to be exempt from the rule.

“I think that in our area, the residents considered low-income are not taking advantage of it enough, you can get up to $3000 off, which is covering pretty much the cost of an entry level stove, your basic black, either a wood pellet or gas stove,” Guardiola said. “The people who are understanding that are more apt to buy our stoves.”

There is no direct financial benefit from the air district to the business with the new program, Guardiola said, other than in the increased sales of stoves because of the good incentives.
And for Guardiola, he not only services what he sells, he also uses the product in his own home.

“I actually have a pellet stove that we have been burning for quite some time and our heating costs for the year is about $300, it used to be a couple hundred dollars a month,” he explained.
Guardiola said he and his staff are always happy to tell people about the products they offer and how they can work in your home; call them at 209-863-9330. He said nearly everyone can benefit from the new voucher system.

“They have really come out with a great program,” he said of the Valley Air District, a program that can help residents in the 209 save money and help everyone breathe a bit easier.


To learn more about the Burn Cleaner program, visit

Daily wood-burning forecasts are also available each day at 4:30 p.m. at

, by calling 1-800 SMOG INFO (766-4463).