Maine Heating Trends

An interesting article today on home heating trends in our fair state, with the upshot being that wood is on the rise and oil on the decline.  Huzzah!  There’s also some interesting history in the article– for example, that before WWII the majority of Maine homes were heated with wood.  One thing I’ll have to disagree with, though.  The author states that “Decades ago, Mainers were more willing and able to lug cordwood.  That ability may be diminishing with the state’s aging population.”  In my observation, the older the Mainer, the more likely he (or she) is to be burning wood.  It’s more about the “willing”, and less about the “ability”.  The old-timers were a whole lot tougher than the new-timers, I think.

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5 Responses to “Maine Heating Trends”

  1. Jane Says:

    With respect, anecdotal data is not data. Where I am in rural VT, older folks often do not burn wood if they can avoid it. Having spent a lifetime hauling and splitting and stacking and wrangling the stuff, they don’t want to do it anymore. Some switched to oil or propane, and a fair number of those have switched again to pellets as a compromise.

    Whether you can continue burning wood into your old age depends on whether you have kids and grandkids available to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

    You only burn half a cord a year or so, which is a whole order of difference from the 5, 10, 15 cords needed to actually heat a house of any size. That’s a lot of hauling even just from the outside stack into the house on a daily basis, even for those tough rural old-timers.

    • Cold House Journal Says:

      Oh, yes, all points granted– especially the part about “whether you have kids to do the heavy lifting”! Still, it’s as much about mentality as about physical ability. My grandparents burned wood (not exclusively, but largely) right up until they died, in their 80′s. How? One: they were used to living in the kitchen in winter, and keeping the rest of the house cold, so they minimized their consumption– younger people, I think, don’t like that idea. Two: they already had the stoves, and the skills, and the attitude. Three: they were active, fit people– moving firewood kept them that way, I guess!

      “You only burn half a cord a year or so, which is a whole order of difference from the 5, 10, 15 cords needed to actually heat a house of any size”
      Well, we burn more like a cord a year. But we do have a house of some size! We aren’t living in a shed here! : )

  2. bridget Says:

    As I approach my 60th birthday, I’m mentally plotting how we will be able to burn our cookstove into our old age – even if it requires help with the heavy lifting as Jane says.

    Daily lugging should be good exercise- even if I need to carry smaller arm loads with more trips.

    Burning wood at a more advanced age IS an interesting consideration. I’m hoping that where there is a will there is a way.

    • Cold House Journal Says:

      “I’m mentally plotting how we will be able to burn our cookstove into our old age”. Great!

      You know, if using oil heat meant that we each had to go out to an offshore oil platform, operate a drill in heavy weather, pump the oil up by hand, then carry it thousands of miles home by the bucket– well, then we’d be saying that only the young and fit could heat with oil. So, yes, the youngest and fittest of us can fell, saw, split, transport, and stack our own wood– but it’s not mandatory. Even if you buy split, dried, delivered firewood, and pay someone say $50 a cord stack it for you, it’ll still a lot cheaper than oil.

  3. Jane Says:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to imply that you live in a shed, only that you don’t actually heat the damn thing!

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