Vermont Castings, a major maker of and other hearth products, is cautioning North American consumers not to be panicked, by current fuel prices, into major buying decisions they may regret for years to come. “We make a variety of stoves, fireplace inserts and other hearth products, fueled by gas, wood, coal and electricity,” said Jennifer Coombe, Director of Marketing of the popular brand, but our focus is on providing each family with the product it really needs and wants. We worry that some families are buying appliances worth considerable money based only on current fuel prices and will have to live with mistakes for many years.”
Ms. Coombe points to rising prices for natural gas as the main reason some consumers are considering heating appliances fueled by wood, sawdust and corn pellets, electricity and even coal. She says natural gas stoves, fireplace inserts and other gas products have a steady, assured supply of fuel with no delivery hassles, have more advancements, attractive appearance, convenience, cleanliness and heating output than any other products in their category. While, she adds, natural gas prices have gone up recently, gas pricing fluctuates and may drop if there is a warm winter, a glut in the market or due to other factors.
Pellet stoves have been selling well in the past year because they are fueled by compressed pellets of sawdust. However, last winter many regions in the U.S. and Canada saw shortages of pellet stoves and, particularly, pellets. Prices for the fuel have escalated and pellets are being made from other ingredients including paper, cardboard, grass and other biomass. Shortages of pellets may continue this winter as small producers struggle to meet demand and some consumers buy up large supplies of pellets to last the winter.
“A stove burning cheaper fuel isn’t much good if you can’t get the fuel or if choosing the right kind of pellet is confusing,” said Ms. Coombe. Also, pellet stoves have moving parts that may require more maintenance and are more costly to repair and both pellet and wood log stoves require regular cleaning. As well, the cost of fuel delivery by truck or other vehicle, often from long distances, should be added to the cost of operation. Vermont Castings reminds consumers the same is true for stoves and inserts fueled by wood, electricity or coal, all of which are made by the brand. Each family has a number of needs and wants, including availability of product and fuel in the local area, installation requirements, heating output, convenience, appearance in the home, look of the flame and options that will customize the appliance to the home. Mrs. Coombe said, “;There is a place for each product but, remember, it will occupy that place for a long time to come. The most important consideration is that the hearth product you choose today is the right one for you and your family well into the future.”