(Natural News) More and more Americans are turning to firewood for their heating needs amid the surge in the price of fuel sources like natural gas, heating oil and propane caused by the global energy crisis.
Yakelin Vigil, CEO of OC Firewood Delivery in Southern California, recently told Fox Business about the sharp increase in firewood demand this year. The demand has been so high that she and many other firewood suppliers have been struggling to keep up. (Related: PAY MORE OR FREEZE: Extremely cold winter to put upward pressure on prices of natural gas.)
“We have been running out,” she said. “We didn’t remove a lot of trees, so we didn’t have enough to split – not even for sales this year.”
Vigil added that her supply of firewood has become so dangerously low that she has resorted to selling firewood in smaller bundles. She blamed the industry’s inability to keep up with growth on the economic restrictions that go with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdowns.
Phil Clement, the operator of Phil’s Firewood in Jefferson County, New York, also told Fox Business that it has been difficult to keep up with high demand.
“It’s been a lot busier than we’ve had in the past. It’s just never-ending,” said Clement. “It seems like as soon as you’re getting caught up, the phone rings again and you get more orders.”
Clement said the high fuel prices are the reason for the high demand for firewood. He warned that the high demand and the wider energy crisis might cause the price of firewood to rise as well.
“Everybody’s worried about [firewood] prices because firewood follows the price of oil,” he said. “It takes diesel fuel to produce firewood because logging and everything like that runs on diesel fuel.”
Clement pointed out that production costs for firewood have already risen. Last year, the price of a face cord of firewood averaged around $90. This year it is around $115. Firewood is such a niche industry that this price is not being tracked on a national level. This means that the price of firewood in other parts of the country may be higher or lower.
A face cord of firewood is an informal measurement unit used to describe one stack of firewood that is four feet high by eight feet wide by 16 inches deep.
“If the price goes up on supply, obviously, the retail price has got to go up because of it, because my supply prices go up and my cost prices go up due to fuel,” said Clement. “I’m just going to adjust my retail prices.”
Firewood sales booming all over the country
Vigil and Clement are not the only firewood business operators who have seen an increase in sales. All over the country, business owners in the industry are reporting similar trends.
Firewood by Jerry in New River, Arizona is selling a full cord of firewood – roughly three face cords worth of firewood – for $200. This is a price increase of 33 percent from last year. In Albuquerque, Zia Firewood is selling a full cord for $250, up by 11 percent since the summer. Standing Rock Farms in Stone Ridge, New York sells the best hardwood for $475 a full cord, up 19 percent from last year.
“It’s crazy,” said Randy Hornbeck, owner of Standing Rock Farms. “Everybody wants firewood.” According to Hornbeck, he has already sold 27 percent more this year than his total for all of last season.
Experts in the industry are suggesting that consumers purchase their firewood as early as they can, and stock up on as much firewood as they think they will need.
Bob Henritze, who runs the Firewood Company in North Carolina, is doing his best to keep the prices stable ever since he began providing firewood for residential homes. But he is worried that the rising fuel costs may force him to raise his prices by as much as 10 to 15 percent just to keep his business afloat.
Doing so has the added effect of potentially turning away many of his customers, which could result in him losing his business. “Firewood has always been perceived as an inexpensive commodity product,” said Henritze. “But it’s very difficult and expensive to get out of the woods.”
Some firewood business operators are receiving orders years in advance.
“Everyone is extremely concerned about how they are going to pay for the cost of heating,” said Brian Pieck, owner of House of Warmth Stove and Fireplace Shop in New Milford, Connecticut. “Our manufacturer is working feverishly around the clock.”
His suggestion for other consumers who do not have the kind of budget to purchase their firewood years in advance is to consider ordering it at the beginning of the year.
Learn more about how the global energy crisis has made it more difficult and expensive for Americans to keep warm during the winter months at Power.news.