Winter Savings

With winter well upon us and the season’s first budget-busting electricity bills landing in the letterbox, householders are thinking about ways of heating their homes while making savings.

For some consumers, the solution may be to make better use of wood fires, if they live in areas where they are allowed to do this.

If you want to start using a wood fire in your home you will probably need to buy firewood.

But there are a few things consumers need to ponder for before making an order.

Ask the merchant about the condition of the wood. Green, unseasoned wood will not be “fit for the purpose” under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Wood that is “rain wet” may need to dry before you can use it.

A reputable merchant will advise you on these issues.

Firewood can either be sold by volume, say 3cu m, or by description such as a truck or trailer load, or sackful.

Firewood merchants are not required to sell wood by measure but those that do must deliver the amount represented.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs runs a scheme where merchants can have the compartments of their delivery vehicles approved as verified measures.

Here are some tips for consumers to make sure they get a good deal when buying firewood:

Try to pick a reputable merchant (one who advertises in the phone book and/or clearly provides their name and address);

  • Check whether the merchant delivers firewood by measure and in a ministry approved measure;
  • Make sure you have the merchant’s name and address before paying for the delivery;
  • When you have firewood delivered make sure you get a receipt from the merchant that shows the quantity you paid for;
  • If the merchant asks you to write a cheque out to “cash”, think again.

Remember, before you use a wood or coal fire make sure you get your chimney or flue swept, especially if you have not used the fire for a long time.

If you want to find out more about buying goods by weight or measure visit the Ministry’s website:

Consumers who receive less firewood than they ordered can complain to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, by phoning (04) 474-2750, faxing (04) 473-9400, or writing to the ministry at PO Box 1473, Wellington.

Copy: Allied Press, Dunedin