An upgrade to home fires or woodburners in a bid to improve air quality in Napier and Hastings could cost more than $40 million.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council has publicly notified proposed new air quality regulations, designed to meet national environmental standards by 2013.
Home fires and woodburners cause 85 percent of the winter air pollution in Napier and Hastings.
Last winter the level of smoke and dust emitted from fires in Hastings exceeded the national air quality limit 28 times. Napier breached the level six times.
Regional council policy manager Liz Lambert said the new rules should dramatically help clean up the air in both cities.
Some Hastings residents are concerned they are being unfairly penalised, because the maximum emission level for fires there is half that of Napier.
Residents in both cities have until the end of February to make submissions on the issue.
Home heating business owner Simon Liley said the cost of buying and installing an approved enclosed wood fire could be up to $4000.
Des Ratima, who chairs the marae committee in the Hastings suburb of Flaxmere, said even with financial subsidies it would be tough for families with little money to afford a new fire.