Firewood prices on the rise

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(Host) With the price of heating oil up fifty-three percent from last year, many people are opting to heat their homes with wood this winter. But as VPR’s Nina Keck reports, the cost of dry firewood has also gone up this year and in a lot of places it’s hard to find.

(Keck) Dirk Thomas is the owner of Grey Goose Chimney Sweeps and the author of the Wood Burner’s Companion. He says he’s amazed how many of his clients can’t find wood this year.

(Thomas) “The people who aren’t having trouble are the people who have established a relationship with a wood dealer and have been getting wood for years. And if you’re not in that ballpark you really need to start asking people who already got firewood where they got it and start making phone calls. But it’s going to be very hard to get dry wood.”

(Keck) Thomas says one of the main reasons for the shortage has to do with the higher price being paid for hardwood pulp. Thomas says drying and splitting logs for firewood is very labor intensive. So he says many wood suppliers have sold their logs to paper mills this year.

(Thomas) “So I’m hearing prices for green firewood ranging anywhere from $125 to $150 a chord. And as recently as two to three years ago[it was] $85 to $100.”

(Keck) And he says dry wood is running $200 to $250 a chord depending on how far you live from the dealer. But even at those prices, Thomas says wood is still a bargain.

(Thomas) “With oil at two dollars a gallon a chord of sugar maple probably has about the same amount of heat in it available to you as 220 gallons of heating oil. Even if you pay $150 for the chord, you’re getting $450 worth of heat.”

(Keck) Plus, he says a wood stove will work when the power is out. But he says people who heat with wood need to make sure their stove is properly installed. And he says the chimney should be checked at least once a year. Wood stoves make chimneys dirtier than a regular fireplace and Thomas says chimney fires are not something to take lightly.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck

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