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Firewood prices go up as cold moves in

Put another log on the fire – well, hold that thought.

As the autumn days get chillier, the cost of warming your feet before an open fire is rising.

Many types of wood are selling for more than $100 a cubic metre.

Firewood sellers say price rises are on the way, continuing a pattern of yearly increases that began in the early 2000s.

Statistics NZ figures show the price of firewood began to climb from 2001 after several stable years – and sellers say further rises are likely this winter.

Consumer advocates say the best way to get cheap, dry wood is to buy it at the end of winter and store it over summer.

But human nature means many people leave it until autumn, when they begin to feel cold.

Sellers blamed rising fuel costs and demand for export logs for price rises.

Hudson Lusty of The Woodshed said prices rose $5 a cubic metre last year, and slow-burning ti-tree, which was becoming difficult to get, would go up another $10 over Easter.

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North Shore firewood seller Noel Crawford said prices had been rising about 5 per cent a year, mainly because of the rising cost of the fuel needed to transport wood from forests in places such as Northland and Gisborne.

Another central Auckland firewood seller, who did not want to be named, said he would probably increase his prices by $5 a metre this year – an increase of about 5 per cent.

Auckland may be feeling the pinch worse than other places: A survey of 82 firewood sellers by Consumer Magazine in February found Auckland and Wellington were the most expensive places to buy firewood.

The average cost in Auckland was $75 a metre for pine, $85 for macrocarpa and $105 for gum.

An informal Herald survey of eight Auckland suppliers this week found several businesses were selling wood for more than that.

Pine, the cheapest wood, was selling for $70 to $100 a cubic metre, ti-tree was fetching between $140 and $150, and wattle, gum and totara were between these extremes.

Consumer Magazine senior writer Bill Whitley said firewood was still a good option if users followed recommended guidelines.

The cost-effectiveness varied, depending on the type of fire and the skill of the person operating it, he said.

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