Pellet stove business heats up
Rymer prospers during crisis
Sunday, February 02, 2014 6:00 PM
CRIVITZ - A propane shortage throughout Marinette County has forced many people to dial down their thermostats, some to as low as 55 degrees. The shortage has also resulted in high prices, more than double what they were at the start of the season.
Jeffrey Rymer, Rymer Heating LLC, fills up one of the pellet stoves he has for sale at his showroom.
Propane users express fears
MARINETTE - Early propane survey results are in from Marinette County. The survey, which started Wednesday, asked propane gas customers a series of questions from whether they thought they had enough fuel to get by to whether they felt their supplier could service their needs.
A total of 50 responses came in with 37 commenting that they use propane as a primary source of heat. Of those, 27 said they were not confident the LP in their tanks would last until the next delivery. None of the 37 were receiving energy assistance.
According to the Marinette County Emergency Management (MCEM) office, there is no short-term solution in sight and residents who risk running out of fuel should prepare a plan.
n Turn thermostat down (no lower than 55 degrees)
n Block drafts from doors and windows
n Keep drapes open during the day
n Do not block air vents
MCEM suggests contacting your LP supplier when your tank reaches 20 percent. If your tank is below 15 percent, turn the thermostat down to 55 degrees and leave a faucet running at a slow drip on each floor and open the cabinet door under the sink to prevent pipes from freezing. Use caution with space heaters and follow the instructions.
If you own your tank and your supplier does not have propane, call another vendor. If you lease your tank, permission is needed from the vendor to allow another company to fill it.
If you have prepaid your vendor and they have no propane, the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection requests you file a claim through their office at 1-800-422-7128 or online at www.datcp.wi.gov.
Income guidelines have changed for the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistant Program and Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund, enabling more residents to qualify for heating assistance. Callers should be prepared to leave a message including name, address, phone number, propane vendor name and percentage of LP remaining.
According to MCEM, residents should have a plan to leave their home if they run out of heating fuel. Suggestions include relocating with a family member, friend or neighbor. Before leaving, drain the water system, including the hot water tank. Anyone who is unsure of how to do drain the water should contact a licensed plumber. Those with no place to stay should contact the Marinette County Communications Center at 715-732-7627.
- HEATWIS assistance: 1-866-432-8947
- Marinette County energy assistance: 715-732-7740
There is one business however that's heating up as the result of all this - the pellet stove biz. Jeff Rymer of Rymer Heating in Crivitz said he's been going at a hectic pace since the news broke about the shortage of LP gas.
"Business has increased greatly with a lot of stoves and repair work," he said. "All of a sudden people are bringing the stoves they weren't using back into use again and pellets are being sold here almost faster than I can get them in."
Rymer said he has a good supply on hand thanks to his latest shipment and that more will be coming in over the next two to three weeks.
There are several types of wood and pellet stoves and furnaces on the market. People who live in the country, surrounded by trees and an almost endless supply of fuel may opt for an outdoor wood stove.
"It's basically someone who has a big house and maybe a shed that they're heating too and also heating their domestic water," explained Rymer.
The average indoor pellet stove will set you back about $3,000 and can be used as either a primary or secondary heat source.
"I heat my whole house with a pellet stove and we keep it at 76 degrees," boasted Rymer. "When the front door opens up it almost looks like a sauna, people can't believe I can afford to keep it that warm."
Pellets normally come in 40-pound bags, 50 bags to a skid for a total of 2,000 pounds. On average, a typical home will use about that much each month during the heating season. Costs right now are about $220 a ton for hardwood and $240 a ton for softwood. Softwood burns hotter and cleaner and that's why it costs a little more. Pellets are normally stored in the basement, garage or someplace near the stove where it's dry. Rymer said those costs, especially now, are a lot better than the return on propane.
Stove users will often just pick up a dozen or so bags of pellets at a time, others will load their pickup trucks and some prefer to have the pellets delivered.
Zoning is something else to consider before making a purchase. Rymer said outdoor stoves are not allowed in the city limits but as far as he knows there are no restrictions for indoor pellet stoves.
"With a pellet stove your insurance usually does not go up because of how safe it is and the double wall chimney that's being used," he said.
As far as safety in the home, Rymer said the new stoves are a lot different than the ones your grandparents cooked on. The old fashioned wood stoves required the door to the flames be open to put more wood in, which could create a fire hazard.
"With a pellet stove, you virtually never open the door except for when you clean it out," he said.