There is only one word to describe the current market in wood pellets – unprecedented. Many of the changes that have happened in the pellet industry have been brewing for years, but the effects have really been felt by consumers since last spring. The appeal of wood pellet fuel has never been stronger, but that has driven some changes that every buyer of pellets will see.
New Stove Sales
Pellet stove sales continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The comfort and warmth generated by a pellet stove, combined with the run-up in heating oil prices and propane last winter, has convinced many households in New England to install a pellet stove. Many of the stove shops we work with in have let us know that their installations of new stoves are up as much as 50% so far this year and sales continue to be strong this fall. Anyone buying a new stove can see a wait time of several weeks for installation as the stores work to keep up with sales. These new stoves mean more people looking for pellets this fall.
It’s the time of year where the phones are steadily ringing, and we are talking with many new and returning customers. Due to other retailers running out of wood pellets and the time of year, our phone call volumes have significantly increased. The Woodpellets.com team is always happy to get you the answers you are looking for, so we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we are hearing during this seasonal rush.
1. Do you have wood pellets to sell me?
If you type in your zip code on our website, or tell us on the phone, you will receive a list of available inventory in your area. You might see “Backordered” or “Sold Out” at times. However, if we tell you on the phone or you see online that pellets are available – that means we have them. We would never knowingly sell wood pellets or wood bricks that aren’t available.
Last month we looked at some troubling signs that
another pellet shortage could not be ruled out again this winter. Expanding exports to Europe, mill closures due to fire, and now a forecast of another bitter cold winter are all contributing to make this winter another challenging one for pellet users.
So what are the best ways to protect yourself from the threat of shortages?
If you have a wood pellet stove, by this time you have either bought your pellets, or at least thought about it (we hope). Our phones have been ringing steadily and our hours have extended, which means the heating season is quickly approaching. We have been happy to hear from many new people this year, and of course we’re thrilled to be catching up with our past/repeat customers as well. During our high call volume, we have been hearing and experiencing a lot of the same things, which we’d like to address:
1. A Need for Information: We are getting calls from many new pellet stove owners with many questions about the best kind of wood pellets, the difference between hardwood and softwood, ash content importance, etc. Every person that answers the phone at Woodpellets.com is a wood pellet fuel expert. You won’t be transferred to another department in order to talk to someone who knows about pellets, and you will certainly not be rushed off the line. We completely understand that you might have a lot of questions, and we are all happy and ready to provide you with honest, helpful answers. Most members of our team are either pellet stove owners, or have owned a pellet stove in the past – so we’ve probably had similar questions at one point.
For Northeasterners, and much of the U.S., last winter was rough. Heavy snowfall, plenty of ice and bitter cold temperatures made the season very difficult for many. In August of 2013, the Farmer’s Almanac actually predicted this kind of weather, which sparked some skepticism. The report predicted, “The ‘Days of Shivery’ are back! For 2013—2014, we are forecasting a winter that will experience below average temperatures for about two-thirds of the nation.” Unfortunately, that report ended up being right. If the trend continues and this year’s prediction is also correct, we are in for another long, cold winter.
It’s inevitable: the nights are cooler, the days are shorter. Fall is coming quickly and it’s time to get ready for the 2014-15 heating season. You may have already secured your wood pellets and/or wood bricks, and that’s great! But before you start up your stove for the season, you should seriously consider a professional 8-point cleaning and inspection. If you have not already had your stove serviced – and we mean professionally cleaned – since last heating season, we strongly recommend that you do.
Picture courtesy of @KerryBioFuels
Aside from the usual ash removal and general maintenance, your wood pellet stove needs additional care in order to operate efficiently and safely. Although many stove owners believe their own cleaning techniques are sufficient, and some perhaps are, the fact remains that some things should be left to trained professionals.
Think of it like service for a car. There are some car owners who can adequately handle his or her own engine service. However, engines are typically best taken care of within the hands of honest, experienced professionals.
Check out this pellet stove chimney clog to the left. Just because pellet stoves burn with less creosote buildup than wood stoves, it doesn’t mean the stove doesn’t need attention. (The picture is from a stove with over four years with no professional cleaning and inspection.) Dramatic, perhaps…but you get our point.
We have broken down the 8 steps needed to keep your pellet stove running safe and at optimal efficiency.
WoodPellets.com has always sold super premium softwood pellets. With more heat and less ash than your typical hardwood pellet, high quality softwood pellets provide a superior burning experience for our customers. But there is one brand of softwood pellets that takes quality to a whole new level – our Cleanfire Douglas Fir.
Introduced in 2012, Cleanfire Douglas Fir pellets are special in many ways. First, these softwood pellets are made from 100% douglas fir material – one of the hottest burning wood species in North America. Check out this chart showing the relative heat output (as measured by BTU/lb) from various wood species.
Like any fuel, the price of wood pellets will inevitably fluctuate. However, even with their increasing popularity (pellet production has significantly increased over the last few years) wood pellet prices don’t get nearly as much attention as other fuels such as heating oil. We realize our customers might have some questions about what factors determine wood pellet price changes. As always, we prefer to keep our customers as informed as possible. So, here are the top five factors influencing wood pellet pricing: