The surge in oil prices isn't just limiting how much people drive, it’s making them worry about next winter’s heating bill, and triggering a boom in the oldest source of fuel around: firewood.36% inflation in half a year? That sounds about right.
"People are doubling their orders, trying to stock up on wood," said Vito Scarvaglione, owner of Vito's Tree Service in suburban Fort Lee, N.J. "It's going to be a crazy year — I’m trying to get as much wood done as possible."
Scarvaglione expects the price for a cord of wood (128 cubic feet) to approach $300 this winter, up from about $220 now.
I've still got about 7 cords of the hedge and oak mix I bought for $80* each a few years ago, all dried and ready, so I shan't be joining the mad rush to buy a new wood stove and a bunch of wood to avoid the cost of oil this winter. Or next winter. Or the one after that.
But while I don't know what the relative efficiency of wood versus oil per BTU of home heat is, it certainly can't be in wood's favor. If there's one thing petroleum is, it's an efficient source of energy, and switching to just about anything else is liable to cost more money and produce less heat than just sucking it up and paying $3 for a gallon of propane. And unless you live in an area that has plenty of wood, a couple of winters of higher-than-normal demand will probably raise the price of firewood faster and farther than oil. And el presidente is not going to open the strategic firewood preserve to help you out.
* Cut, split, and stacked.