Consumers Go Back to the Future to Cut Costs

Discussion
Nov 21, 2005
George Anderson

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

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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9 Comments on "Consumers Go Back to the Future to Cut Costs"


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Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

The media is bombarding consumers with various energy concerns: having no energy after a hurricane (and there were several this year), high energy prices (that hit hard this year), debates over future oil sources (highlighting the possibility of running out of energy), reports of problems with nuclear plants (intermittent reports), price increases for energy costs (prominent reports), law suits against energy companies for manipulating prices. The combination of these issues and the frequency of these stories is certainly an impetus for consumers to find ways to have independent sources of energy and be less dependent upon energy companies or specific sources of energy. With enough impetus the mass conscious will change and consumers will take action.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

SOME people are altering their behavior, not ALL people. And some changes are more more permanent than others. Once an automatic setback thermostat is installed, energy use is curtailed for the life of the thermostat. Once a person installs weather-stripping, energy use is reduced for the life of that improvement. People were shocked by high gasoline prices during Katrina, but some may relax now that gasoline prices have gone down for 5 weeks in a row. How many people act upon their New Year’s resolutions? How many people stick to a new diet, long-term? As W.C. Fields said, “It’s easy to give up drinking. I’ve done it a thousand times.” Well, it’s easy to swear you’ll use less gas…

Herb Sorensen
Guest
15 years 3 months ago
Here’s a good summary: :>) You want to install a wood burning stove to save money next winter? I did last year and here is what it cost me: COST TO INSTALL AND USE A WOOD BURNING STOVE. Stove, Pipe, and Installation………………. $499.00 Chain Saw (to cut wood)…………………….. 150.00 Gas, Oil, and Maintenance on Saw……………… 75.00 Used 4X4 Pickup to Haul Wood………………. 9,300.00 4X4 Pickup Maintenance……………………… 750.00 Fine for Cutting Trees on State prop without permit 350.00 Permit to Cut Wood on State prop……………… 5.00 Two Cases of Beer (To drink while cutting wood)…… 30.00 Fine for Littering (Threw beer can on road)……… 500.00 Tow Truck (To get 4X4 out of creek…………… 150.00 Log Splitter…………………………………. 347.00 Doctor’s Fee (To remove splinter from eye)……….. 50.00 Safety Glasses………………………………… 15.00 Tetanus Shot for Squirrel Bite………………….. 10.00 Laundry Bill (Stepped on snake)………………….. 3.50 Replace Stolen CB Radio from 4X4 Pickup…………. 197.00 Replace Lost Watch…………………………….. 85.00 Replace Side Mirror on 4X4 Pickup (Passenger side) .. 35.00 Replace Other Side Mirror on 4X4 Pickup ………… 35.00 Two Butane Lighters and Lighter… Read more »
David Livingston
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Based upon the traffic jams this past weekend at Costco and Wal-Mart, I would say none.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 3 months ago

It’s good that all of we resource-responsible inactivists (RRI – you heard it here first) are on the job, or this recycled story from 1985, 1989, and 2001 would go to waste. Check uber-Google, Lexis-Nexis, or any other source, and you will see the retreads on this report. And, just like the “road gators” (retreads shed from big rigs) lying beside the road, they should receive similar attention.

jerry frana
Guest
jerry frana
15 years 3 months ago

I heated with wood for over 25 years without any problems.
In my last 10 years of teaching in a rural area, I was amazed
to find so many students that had never used a chain saw or
even knew anything of wood heat safety.

My concern is the new kids on the block using wood heat without
the understanding of the dangers that are involved with the use
of wood – smoke, ashes, chimney fires, etc. I have a fear that there
could be an increase in home fires due to wood heat.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 3 months ago

Herb hit the toe on the nail! Seriously though, there are reasonably efficient wood stoves–pellet stoves for example–but I suspect most consumers buying wood stoves because they think they’ll save money haven’t really thought it through. Even solar panels (very popular in my area) take 5-10 years to pay off. Individual efforts can and should make a difference, but real change will have to come at the power generation level.

What may change, however, is how people take energy use and power generation into account politically. Some may place higher value on candidates willing to drill and dig for energy sources anytime and anywhere, and some may place a higher value on those advocating alternative, sustainable energy sources. Either way, if this is a bad winter for energy costs, I suspect next fall’s campaign will see a lot more discussion of the issue.

Tess Parker
Guest
Tess Parker
15 years 3 months ago
Where do I begin? Energy use has almost everything to do with convenience. I grew up in a world with many conveniences, and my children are growing up with even more … convenience becomes habit and habit then becomes “the norm.” I just bought a house, large and 30 years old, so last winter was the first time I have ever noticed my energy bill. I was shocked that my utility bill was almost $350 for December alone! Being a good daughter, I called my father, who I look up to, and he asked me how much I wanted to pay for energy. I told him I had to pay what the utility company said I used, or I’ll get turned off. My house has a woodstove, so my dad told me to use it. I bought a new HE furnace, and my dad made a gadget that tested my energy consumption for each and everything I had plugged in. I now know that those lovely litte plug in air fresheners cost me 24 cents… Read more »
Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

There are similar problems regarding energy in the UK as the US – high prices, shortages etc but we don’t have nearly as many SUVs or hybrids and, even when we drive to the shops, the distances aren’t comparable. None of which has stopped people being concerned, in principle, or seemingly encouraged them much, in practice, to do anything about their individual consumption. We all talk a great game but not a lot of us walk the walk.

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