Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Warm Winter Puts Damper on Sales of Firewood

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Warm Winter Puts Damper on Sales of Firewood

Article excerpt

Christmas Eve was heavenly, Christmas positively pleasant and Boxing Day balmy.

Historic high temperatures this month have meant that 'tis not exactly the season for chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Or open fires at all.

Fewer bundles of firewood have been sold to date this year at Giant Eagle for late fall and early winter, compared with previous seasons.

Firewood is a commodity affected regionally by temperature, construction volume and energy prices.

"While the recent warmer weather has resulted in fewer bundles of firewood sold to date this season, we fully expect that the coming colder conditions will result in many family fireside activities," said Dick Roberts, a spokesman for Giant Eagle.

Giant Eagle sells bundles of Pennsylvania hardwood in quantities as small as three-quarters cubic feet, costing $5 per bundle.

Dealers of larger quantities of firewood in the region have not seen an effect - yet - on sales thus far this season.

"Most people buy early," said Tom Borza, who owns Dean Thomas Tree and Landscape Services "They didn't realize the weather would be this warm."

He and other wood dealers believe the unseasonable weather might cut into midwinter sales, when customers often restock their supplies.

Wood fires today are more for aesthetics than heating.

"People want to have a fire for the ambiance as much as for the heat, so I haven't seen too much of a difference on that from year to year," said Henry Nutbrown, who has sold firewood at Nutbrown's Tree Farm in Collier for 30 years.

November is his biggest sales month for firewood. Mr. Nutbrown charges $105, delivered, for a "face cord" or "running cord" of wood measuring 4 feet high, 8 feet deep and 1 foot wide.

At Dean Thomas Tree and Landscape Services, demand for firewood has also stayed steady this year, despite an average December temperature of 44.5 degrees - the second-warmest on record.

Customers tend to buy for the season in October or November, said Mr. Borza, who sells a cord of seasoned firewood - 128 cubic feet, usually sold as 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet - for $400, delivered. …

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