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Consumer Demand Burns Hot for Hearth Items
Sep 29, 2006
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Sales of hearth products continue to burn hot, as consumers across the country look for ways to combat rising energy costs and heat their homes more efficiently. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association's (HPBA) data, demand for fireplaces, stoves, inserts and log sets in 2005 rose eight percent from the previous year.

The findings, highlighted in HPBA's biennial consumer survey, show consumer use and attitudes toward hearth products. Results showed that consumers are particularly concerned with energy savings and efficiency. In fact, 65 percent of those surveyed said efficiency was the most important factor when considering a hearth appliance for their homes.

Efficiency and Zone Heating

The HPBA states that increased fuel costs and more focus on efficiency are key reasons for the continued popularity of hearth products. A central furnace cycles on and off several times an hour and heats an entire house - even unoccupied rooms - wasting money. Studies indicate that zone heating solutions can provide energy savings of 20 to 40 percent.

The association says that when choosing a hearth product as a primary or secondary heat source, stoves and fireplace inserts are consumers' two most popular options. The majority of consumers that own a fireplace insert (82 percent) or own a stove (79 percent) emphasize their importance in heating their homes.

Sixty percent of those who modified their fireplace to make it more efficient installed a fireplace insert. Of those respondents, 63 percent chose a wood-fueled product and 37 percent selected a natural gas/propane product, HPBA says.

Manufacturers are continually working to increase the hearth product options available to consumers. The HPBA reports that today's models offer higher efficiency ratings, cleaner burning technologies, and more diverse product designs.

A Variety of Fuels, A Variety of Product Options

Shipments of hearth products increased to 3.2 million in 2005 compared to 2.9 million in 2004, HPBA reports. Despite the increase of natural gas prices, gas and propane hearth products accounted for 66 percent of the total shipments. Wood fueled 18 percent of the products, with 12 percent powered by electricity and 4 percent by pellets (wood or corn). Shipments of pellet stoves and inserts have shown significant growth recently, providing a clean-burning and cost-saving supplemental heat source. Pellet stoves use fuel made from renewable resources such as recycled wood waste that would normally be destined for landfills. Some pellet stoves can also burn dried corn. In 2005, shipments of freestanding pellet stoves and inserts topped 118,000 –a whopping 76 percent increase compared to 2004.

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