American consumers are so concerned with their rising energy bills that they are purchasing various types of wood-burning hearth products at an astounding rate for supplemental warmth and to help save money on energy.
A recent consumer survey by the Arlington, Va.-based Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) finds that more consumers are turning to efficient EPA-approved wood stoves, fireplace inserts, and pellet stoves and inserts to heat their homes. Shipments of pellet stoves and inserts for the first six months of 2008 increased by an amazing 212 percent as compared to the same period in 2007. Wood stoves and inserts increased 54 percent for the same period.
Unlike a fireplace, an EPA-approved freestanding wood stove performs an efficient, controlled burn that generates substantially less smoke than a traditional wood fireplace. These units, made of cast iron or soapstone, store heat, radiating it into the house. This allows the stove, depending on the size of the unit, to heat a space as large as 2,500 square feet. A pellet stove or insert accomplishes the same feat using a renewable, clean-burning fuel made from sawdust or other wood waste.
These hearth products are typically used for zone-style heating of the most frequently used rooms in a home, allowing homeowners to turn down the thermostat on the home's central furnace. This reduces fuel consumption, providing energy savings of up to 20 percent to 40 percent, HPBA says.
According to the HPBA survey, roughly 70 percent of buyers upgraded their fireplaces for energy efficiency; 51 percent did so to help save on heating costs. Additionally, consumers upgrading to an EPA-certified wood stove found that their wood use dropped by one-third because the units improved efficiency over older fireplaces, according to the survey.
Demand for stoves and inserts could continue into next year. Beginning in January 2009, homeowners can take advantage of a $300 federal tax credit to purchase a new pellet or 75-percent-efficient wood stove.
Nigel Maynard is senior editor, products, at BUILDER magazine.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.