Consumers Go Back to the Future to Cut Costs
By George Anderson
High energy costs have led many consumers to reconsider how they get around town and how they light and heat their homes. Most reports have focused on high tech responses to
the current situation, such as the increased demand for hybrid autos to reduce gas consumption and solar panels to pay for electricity.
A report in The Kansas City Star, however, suggests that many are looking for more low tech means to help them deal with high prices. Dealers selling wood stoves in the area are reporting record sales and some have even sold out of their stock, as consumers, such as John Anderson of Trimble, Mo., look for ways to reduce expenses. “I plan to cut down my use of gas – what you read is that costs are going up 30 to 40 percent,” he said.
Dave Lapine, owner of Midwest Fireplace, told the Star that normally business doesn’t pick up until the weather turns cold but that this year was different. “The entire industry got caught flat-footed. It really started right after Hurricane Katrina, when people began talking about higher energy costs.”
Jenny Haughenberry, co-owner of Complete Home Concepts, said she has three crews installing eight or nine wood stoves a day. Ms. Haughenberry said her wood stove business is already up 76 percent over last year with more than a month and colder weather to go.
The demand for wood stoves has outstripped manufacturers’ ability to resupply retailers. Mr. Lapine said stoves that previously took days to get after an order was placed are now taking up to six weeks.
While wood stoves may not be as high tech as hybrid cars or solar panels, current models are well beyond the rustic images that many think of when hearing the word.
Today, some models come with thermostats to control temperature and others have fans and secondary chambers to improve the heating efficiency of the units.
Moderator’s Comment: How are high energy costs affecting consumer behavior? Do you see any changes consumers are making in their shopping patterns or
products they buy becoming permanent or is this all a reaction to a temporary situation? –
George Anderson – Moderator