Americans Panic-Buy Firewood And Stoves Amid Energy Crisis
The global energy crisis has led to a spike in natural gas, heating oil, propane, and power prices, making the cost of heating a home this fall/winter very expensive. As a result, Americans are panic buying cords of wood and stoves to deflect soaring fossil fuel prices.
Bloomberg spoke with US firewood vendors who said sales are booming ahead of winter. They reported the price of a cord of wood is skyrocketing.
At Firewood By Jerry in New River, Arizona, a cord of seasoned firewood — roughly 700 pieces or so — goes for $200 today. That’s up 33% from a year ago. At Zia Firewood in Albuquerque, the price is up 11% since the summer to $250. And at Standing Rock Farms in Stone Ridge, a bucolic, little town in the Hudson Valley that’s become popular with the Manhattan set, the best hardwoods now fetch $475 a cord, up 19% from last year. – Bloomberg
Randy Hornbeck, the owner of Standing Rock Farms in Stone Ridge, New York, said his sales are already 27% higher than all of last season. “Everybody wants firewood,” he said, calling the start of the cold season a “crazy one.”
Some of the increased demand Hornbeck is speaking about comes from white-collar workers moving out of metro areas to suburban or rural locations over the last 18 or so months and have discovered their homes are outfitted with stoves and or fireplaces. The price for heating a suburban home is much higher than an apartment in the city, and perhaps with soaring energy inflation, wood is the cheapest way to heat a home (at the moment).
Besides the price jump in firewood, wood stove dealers are reporting overwhelming demand. “You can’t get a stove until at least April,” Lakin Frederick, an employee at Central Arkansas Fireplaces in Conway, a suburb of Little Rock.
Customers have told Frederick that the spike in energy prices, such as heating oil, natural gas, and propane, is the reason why they’re resorting to woodburning this year. He added wood has become scarce in his area because “there are not enough people who are cutting and supplying wood right now.”
Bloomberg points out several firewood booms in US history:
Over the course of American history, there have been any number of booms in the firewood business. One of the earliest episodes came during the British siege of Boston at the outset of the Revolutionary War. That winter, the price of a cord — a centuries-old benchmark measuring 128 cubic feet — soared to $20, the historian David McCullough documented in his book “1776.” That’s the equivalent of some $635 in today’s dollars, according to calculations by the website in2013dollars.com. In more recent times, just about every major spike in energy prices in the past half century has triggered a rush into woodburning among some segments of the population. These fevers invariably fade as soon as the energy crisis does. -Bloomberg
Today, the energy crisis is felt worldwide will inflict more financial pain on working poor families as cold weather sets in. The Biden administration is attempting to cool red hot inflation by releasing strategic petroleum reserves to arrest crude prices, which is likely to backfire.
“Everyone is extremely concerned about how they are going to pay for the cost of home heating,” said Brian Pieck, the owner of House of Warmth Stove and Fireplace Shop in New Milford, a town in rural western Connecticut. He said that concern had led people to panic buying woodstoves, adding his sales for woodstoves over $2,800 are up 50%. “Our manufacturer is working feverishly around the clock.”
Hornbeck’s wealthier customers in the Hudson Valley are buying firewood no matter the cost. He has already sold 3,300 cords of hardwood and will deplete reserves by February. Some of his clients are already locking in orders for next season.
According to EIA figures, just 1% of US households use firewood or wood pellets as their primary heating source, and about 8% use them as their secondary heating source.
A global energy crisis has metastasized and pushed the world into panic buying fossil fuels ahead of the Northern Hemisphere winter thanks to ambitious green policies.