Monday, October 10, 2011

Facts and Analysis on 2010 Census Heating Fuel Data

· The top ten states of per capita primary wood heating are: Vermont (15%), Maine (12%), Montana (8%), New Hampshire (8%), Oregon (7%), Idaho (7%), West Virginia (6%), Alaska (5%) and Wyoming (5%).
· Four of the eight most populous states - New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan - experienced increases in wood heat of at least 65%.
· Rapid rise in wood heat is not just confined to states with very high use of heating oil. In Michigan and Ohio, for example, where the relatively inexpensive natural gas is dominant, wood heat still soared.
· West Coast states, where laws regulating wood heating tend to be stronger, had modest increases in wood heating (6 – 12%) but it is unclear to what extent those regulations kept wood heat growth in check and to what extent other factors were responsible.
· The only part of the country where wood fell as a primary heating fuel was the Deep South, where states experienced a 2 – 13% decline with the exception of Florida that declined 21%.
· In a significant milestone, since 2000 wood has overtaken propane as a primary heating fuel in three eastern states: Maine, Vermont and West Virginia. This is the first time that wood has topped propane in an eastern state since 1970.
· In Europe there has also been a rapid rise in wood and pellet heating, which has more to do with generous government incentives to help homes reduce fossil fuel use. Many European countries have had 25 to 50% incentives for much of the previous decade.
· The US had a 30% tax credit up to $1,500 for only two years, 2009 and 2010. Currently the tax credit is only for 10% with a maximum of $300.
· The number of homes heating with wood fluctuates much more quickly than other fuels because most families who use wood as a primary heat source also have a fossil fuel back-up which they use more of when or if that fossil fuel is more affordable.
· According to the US Forest Service reports, a majority of Americans who heat with wood cut or collect their wood.
· Some states with a more than 90% rise in wood heat have very high unemployment, such as Michigan and Nevada, ranked 1 and 3 for highest unemployment rates. But in New Hampshire, which also had more than 90% rise, unemployment is among the lowest in the US.
· A disturbing trend is that in some of the states with the greatest increase in wood heat, inefficient traditional outdoor hydronic heaters that often create excessive smoke are still allowed to be installed, such as Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. These four states have more than half of all such outdoor heaters in the US according to a 2006 NESCAUM report. (13 states, mainly from the Northeast and the West Coast, ban the installation of these devices but most allow cleaner, EPA qualified ones to be installed.)
EIA Residential Energy Consumption Survey, 2009, Table HC1.1 &Table HC2.4:
Background on government incentives:

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