Energy costs affecting how people heat their homes

Published 3:01 pm Monday, July 21, 2008

McCarren&squo;s store sells wood stoves and gas log fireplaces, among other things. The trend for the store has been fewer sales of the gas products and more of the wood.

During this time of the year, the industry tends to sit back and build up supply for the upcoming colder months, McCarren said, but consumer interest and summer sales going through the roof may disrupt the supply.

From a business standpoint, the rise in business is a good thing, McCarren said, but what has really impressed him is that consumers are investing in their future. The wood market isn&squo;t affected by rising costs in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world, he said.

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Wood stoves will heat the average 2,000-square foot home, McCarren said, and there are larger models that will heat houses 3,000 square feet and up.

The wood supply needed either is right outside a wood stove owner&squo;s door or they buy locally from a wood seller.

&dquo;They&squo;re making their decision based on the long term,&dquo; he said.

Cindy said that consumers are worried about the current energy crisis.

&dquo;People are changing the way they do things,&dquo; she said.

It&squo;s more of a lifestyle change, she said.

Local oil and gas dealers say they are doing all they can do to help their customers out as much as possible while the cost of oil is rising.

Steve Prince, owner of Prince Oil Company in Landrum, has done several things in the wake of rising costs. First, he buys low as often as possible. He&squo;s says he has always done it to help his customer, but with current prices, it&squo;s even more important now.

A second thing he&squo;s done this year is pre-buy contracts. His customers can lock into a rate at the beginning of the year.

But no matter what he does, he said, the rising costs of oil will continue to run the market.

Prince recently sold the fuel oil side of his business to Burrell&squo;s, but remains in the propane gas business.

McCarren said he has seen this type of energy crisis before. As a young college graduate in the 1970s, McCarren first discovered the wood stove business and has been in it ever since.

The 1970s were worse than current energy prices, he said. He pointed to the fact that in the 1970s, you were lucky to even get gas at a gas station because of rationing.

After a brief break from the primary hearth industry, he returned to the business when they opened their Lynn store two years ago. His desire to return to the business had nothing to do with energy costs, he said, despite the early stages of high prices two years ago.

But now business is booming because of that, he said.