WINDHAM (NEWS CENTER Maine) - It’s been a tough winter for people trying to keep their homes warm.
First, we had that cold snap at the end of December, when oil and propane dealers had a backlog of customers wanting deliveries. Now, firewood suppliers across Maine are having a tough time keeping up with the demand for dry wood. That has some firewood users seeking out alternatives.
Massive power outages in October and frigid temperatures in late December made the demand for all kinds of fuel skyrocket. Firewood is no exception, with dry wood now tough to come by.
“I don’t even think about it. I mean, I feel bad because a lot of people rely on firewood”, said Doug Kaserman.
Kaserman isn’t concerned about the shortage because he uses logs and bricks made out of compressed wood. They cost a bit more than firewood, but Kaserman says for a small businessman like himself, time is money and the time he saves not stacking firewood is worth it.
"You see a lot of hours go away stacking wood and I’m not putting it down, but it’s a lot easier and a lot more efficient with this wood", he said.
At Southern Maine Renewable Fuels owner Jim Maurais has seen a bump in business the past few weeks.
“A lot of people, when they can’t find dry wood, they haven’t really got any alternatives”, he said.
He says a pallet of his product is equivalent to a cord of wood. They sell for $300. Cords of wood are now going for $280 in some areas.
“I’ve seen many more phone calls and new people stopping in inquiring about the products”, he said.
Like all businesses, his is subject to market conditions. When the price of oil and firewood is high, he does well. When they drop, so does his business. Right now the convenience of picking up a small package or a large pallet of these compressed bricks and logs is appealing to firewood users.
"I got caught late in the season needing firewood, so I gave this product a try. If you need extra, you can just throw it in the back of your car. It’s just convenient all around", said customer Chris Olsen.