Wood, pellet stove sales heat up
It’s a safe bet that most Truckee residents are planning to heat their homes this winter, but for those hoping to ditch huge gas bills in exchange for wallet-friendly pellet-burning stoves, there could be a long wait for warmth.
“We’ve seen a 300-400 percent increase in pellet stove sales in the past two months,” said Mountain Home Center owner Tom Just. “Some manufacturers are completely sold out, creating a backlog of people who won’t get their product until January or February.”
Sales of wood-burning stoves are also up, according to Craig Morris, owner of Alpine Stoves and Chimney Services, who said he is selling 20 percent more of them than he was at this time last year. Sales for firewood-burners are now running neck and neck with gas options, he said.
Pellet stoves, which run between $1,800 to $3,000, according to Just, use small wood pellets sold in 40-pound bags for a few dollars each. On average, a home uses one bag per day.
While the initial cost of buying the stove and pellets can be costly, hundreds of dollars could be saved monthly when compared the price of using a gas stove, said Just.
But Morris said Truckee consumers shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the savings associated with turning off the gas.
“Pellet stoves require electricity to run, so they won’t operate in a power outage unless you have a back-up generator,” Morris said. “Compared to gas or wood burning stoves, pellet [stoves] are highly mechanical, they are noisy, and there is a lot that could potentially go bad.”
Just agreed that more than economics should go into the decision of heating options.
“If you work full-time and you want convenience and something that operates during power outages, you want gas,” he said.
Wood is still the most economical for those who chop their own. But if you’re paying to have it dumped on your driveway, a cost that is also climbing according to local wood sellers, you should factor in the value of your time spent stacking and schlepping it into the house, said Morris.
Environmental groups caution homeowners to use their heat source efficiently. Brendan Bell, Sierra Club energy analyst, said people need to make sure wood stoves don’t leak and that they aren’t using moldy wood.
“The money you invest in a new wood stove would probably be better spent in buying a new gas furnace that is more efficient,” Bell said. “That’s what’s best for the environment and your pocketbook.”
” The Associated Press contributed to this report.