Coping Strategies

Beck is right. The market will not be denied. But that doesn't mean that we have to meekly submit to its abuse. We can step up and take a more active role. We can all be part of the market. Maybe the smarter part, if we're lucky.

A case in point would be rising fuel prices. Over at Futurepundit, Randall Parker has a fine post about the rapid rise in demand for cheaper sources of home heat. Apparently, wood burning stoves are experiencing quite the renaissance these days.

Who'd have thought that a nation of "mall hounds, bargain shoppers, happy motorists, Nascar fans, Red State war hawks, and born-again Krispy Kremers" could exercise intelligent foresight? Well, not all of them do. But it's early days yet.

Check it out, and don't skip the links. A mix-master of teaser quotes follows...

Pellet stoves cost $1,500 to $3,500, depending on the model...It takes 3 to 5 tons of pellets, on average, to heat a home over the typical Southern Tier heating season. Usually, one 40-pound bag is enough to heat a home for the day...

A ton of pellets, which cost between $150 to $180 this summer, is now going for $220 if you can get it.

Eiklor said smart stove owners bought their supplies well in advance of this heating season...


Convinced that natural gas and heating oil prices would skyrocket and the supply of pellets would be short, many pellet stove owners stocked up on the seasonal supply all at once in the early fall.

Now, like squirrels with cheeks full of nuts, these owners are sitting on their tons of pellets - while others scour area suppliers for what's left.

"After the hurricanes hit, everybody went berserk," Backyard Billy's manager Audrey Solomon said. "They were anticipating their heating oil bills and turning to alternative methods."


Even when consumers find bags of pellets, they're often hit by sticker shock. Last year, bags sold for as little as $3, or $150 for a ton. But the additional cost of truck fuel for delivery of the pellets to the stores is being passed on to consumers...

But a $5 bag of pellets can keep the home fires burning for 24 hours. That would translate to a monthly bill of $150.


Chimney sweep Jeremy Biswell...says a wood stove is always a better choice for heating than an open hearth...

"Typically in an open fireplace, you're losing 90 percent of the heat up the flue,"...That translates to 10 percent efficiency. By comparison, he said, older wood stoves are 50 percent to 60 percent efficient, and new ones are 71 percent to 78 percent efficient...

Wheeler said customers who are interested in convenience tend to choose pellet stoves, which use compressed wood pellets made from sawdust. Because pellet stoves require electricity, a battery backup is an important feature to look for...

With demand for cordwood and pellet stoves up locally as much as four times over last year, many retailers say both types of stoves are on backorder, with delays ranging from two to four months. If you're interested in buying a stove for next winter, don't wait until fall to order...


Steve Hund...has been restoring vintage wood stoves and bringing them up to working condition for 32 years. He got into the business when the energy crisis of the 1970s caused people to look for alternative heat sources.

Recently he has noticed a change in the type of customers who come to his store...

"Before, customers wanted stoves that were attractive and rare," Hund said. "Now they want to know how much space they will heat."

When the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency calls a burn ban because of stagnant air, it's illegal to use a fireplace or uncertified wood stove unless it's your only adequate heat source. The agency called 17 burn-ban days in 2005 the highest number since 1989.


Pellet stoves...are the cleanest of all wood-burning stoves so clean, the EPA does not regulate them, and they are exempt from Puget Sound-area Stage 1 burn bans.


Uncertified stoves (sold before 1992) and fireplaces may release 40 to 60 grams of smoke per hour, compared with 2 to 5 grams per hour from a newer EPA-certified stove...

Click here for a list of fine purveyors of wood burning stoves. Some of them have live links. Here are just a few of them...

Aladdin Hearth Products

Biofire, Inc.

Country Flame Technologies

Navigator Stove Works (I like their halibut).

Who'd have thought wood stoves would go high tech?

Kind of makes me want one.

posted by Justin on 01.13.06 at 12:16 PM


Wood-burning heat also helps curtail the ever-present tree menace.

John   ·  January 14, 2006 8:34 AM

Very true. It could be thought of it as a trade off. Local warming in the here and now against less global warming in the future. We could be wood burning heroes!

J. Case   ·  January 14, 2006 10:40 AM

They're pretty nice, but if they don't feed into a central air system, a lot homes will have rooms not well heated. Around Puget Sound that wouldn't be as big an issue as it is in Montana, for example.

Pellet burners are a BIG hit with cats, though. Nothing like stretching out just in front of a big mass of hot iron with hot air blowing out above them...

Larry   ·  January 14, 2006 3:27 PM

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