Log burner sales surge with fears of a shortage looming this winter

Fireplace and log-burner rules explained in 2021

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The sale of wood burning stoves is on the up as figures show 10,000 more people have already opted to have at least one fitted in their homes before the cold winter hits. Now, as temperatures have started to drop and energy prices continue to dent the bank accounts of bill payers, industry experts are reporting fears of a potential shortage as demand continues to surge. One company, Bowland Stoved Ltd issued a statement saying it is “fully booked for installations until 2023” and has started urging people to book in now for next year. Demand for log burners has shot up by nearly 40 percent, jumping to 35,000 orders between April to June, compared to 25,000 from the same period last year. It comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and his supply cuts to Europe sent gas prices soaring, which has had a huge knock-on impact on UK billpayers. 

Now, demand for the gas alternative has gotten so high that retailers are reportedly experiencing a shortage of wood-burning stoves, made worse by supply chain issues in part due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Amid the shortage fears, some dealers have even reported that customers are buying several stoves all at once.

Nina Hodgson, director of wood-burning stove manufacturer Town and Country Fires, told the Yorkshire Post: “Quite a lot of manufacturers are struggling for raw materials and that has had an effect on their production so there is a four to six months wait for the product after ordering.

“We’ve gained sales because we can fulfil orders within a few weeks, rather than months, plus we don’t have the issue of shipping costs. We are also finding that more people want to buy British.”

Wood-burning stoves can cost from £600 all the way up to £1,500 and more. Installation costs are also something to think about and can bump up these prices by a great degree, although Britons do not seem to be put off by this.   

Backwoodsman Stoves, an online retailer, issued an update on its website and said: “Please note that we are exceptionally busy due to the effects of the energy crisis. This means everything is taking longer than usual at present and we appreciate your patience during this challenging time.

“We want customers to be aware that we are currently taking up to six weeks to perform onsite stove surveys and get the reports sent out.”

According to Cornish company Anevay stoves, it has seen a 10 to 20 percent growth in sales every month since the start of the year. The company’s CEO Dawie Cronje told the Daily Mail that he is “happy to be helping customers who have been squeezed by energy bills”. He also said the company is finding it hard to cope with the increased volume of orders. 

Another big issue for the company is waiting times for laser-cutting and materials, while cost of living crisis is also making the business harder to run. Mr Cronje said: “Steel in general has been an issue price-wise, the price of everything. Welding is power intensive, so that also goes on the energy bills.”

While many families are opting for wood-burning stoves to alleviate surging energy costs, the war in Ukraine has also forced wood prices to jump. One supplier said that a crate of wood cost £210 in August but reached £240 in September, only for it to later jump to £270 further down the line. 

But with energy bills costing double the amount they were last year, and with the price cap now set to reach £3,000 when the energy price guarantee goes up in April, log burners may still be able to save you some cash in the long-term.

With demand soaring, households seem more willing to pay one lump sum upfront rather instead of forking out more for their energy bills over time. According to the Energy Saving Trust, log burners can cut a home’s heating bill by up to 10 percent once installed.

The Stove Industry Alliance, a trade body, says running costs are around a third of electric heating bills, and 13 percent less than gas central heating, although these savings will continue to go up as energy prices continue to rise. The initial cost of installing a log burner can range anywhere from £500 to £5,000 for high-end devices. According to supplier Direct Stoves, the installation costs of a burner will depend on the age of the property, and whether it has a chimney.

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They added that it would cost around £1,500 to install a log burner in a household with a pre-existing chimney, and over £2,000 to add a flue system if the home doesn’t have a chimney.

Andy Hill, of the Stove Industry Alliance, told the Telegraph: “With rising fuel costs, wood-burning becomes ever more cost-effective and our members are reporting increased demand for wood fuel supplies as concern grows about the financial impact on families of the energy price rises.

“Using an eco-design wood-burning stove comfortably heats the room in which it is situated, while also warming the whole home, reducing our reliance on gas, electricity and oil for heating and offering an effective way of reducing home energy bills this winter.”

However, the alternative heating systems have sparked controversy due to the harmful matter particulate matter – tiny solids floating in the air – that are produced when the wood is burned. These particles threaten to cause respiratory illnesses. A study by the University of Sheffield in 2020 warned that for some log burners, four hours of use can result in a tripling of household levels of this harmful matter.

Rohit Chakraborty, a Grantham Scholar at the University of Sheffield, said: “Our findings are a cause for concern. It is recommended that people living with those particularly susceptible to air pollution, such as children, the elderly or vulnerable, avoid using wood burning stoves.”

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