Wood Seen as Popular, Cheap Option to Heat Homes

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Many consumers are still avid fans of using wood to heat their homes despite other more eco-friendly alternatives such as renewable energy.

The reliance of burning wood as a main heating source is popular throughout the U.S., but its use has increased by 50% in the Northeast and Middle Atlantic regions from 2005 to 2012, said the Energy Information Administration.

Wood remains a popular heating source, and consumers are still buying split logs and wood pellets in droves in the nine states from New England and Middle Atlantic census divisions.

Wood chips are commonly sold at Lowe's and other home improvement retail stores in the Northeast, Southeast and Northwest parts of the U.S. because of the availability and proximity to the source, said Craig Marcum, managing partner at Edge Energy, a brokerage in Houston.

"The closer you are to the coasts where most of the wholesale market is, the better you are," he said.

Consumers have sought cheaper options such as wood for many years and are foregoing the use of fuel oil and kerosene, the EIA said.

Across the U.S., 2.5 million households or 2.1% of the population now use wood as the main fuel to heat their homes, an increase from 1.9 million households or 1.7% in 2005. There are another 9 million households, or 7.7% of Americans, who use wood as a secondary heating fuel.

Most homes rely on using heating stoves as their primary source and fireplaces are the next common choice, the report said. While most consumers are burning split logs, more people are buying wood pellets in the past few years.

What's more, while homes with higher income brackets "are more likely to use wood, those at lower income levels who burn wood consume more on average," the EIA said.

Finding cheaper alternative fuels which are eco-friendly remains a challenge for consumers still, Marcum said. Using biodiesel fuels or other fuels is still not obtainable for most people.