Chimney sweeps see comeback due to soaring UK energy costs
As more British residents turn to burning wood to heat their homes this winter, the demand for clean chimneys has brought back a time-honored UK profession: the chimney sweep.
The UK Telegraph reports that the chimney sweeping industry is experiencing the largest boom since Victorian times. (Related: ANALYSIS: We’re going backwards)
“It’s been remarkable,” said Martin Glynn, president of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps. “When we started NACS in 1982, there were just 30 members. Today we have 540 members nationally.”
Recent energy price spikes have added as much as 15 percent to electric bills across the country, the Telegraph reports. In response to the spike, people are turning off their heaters and burning wood fires to stay warm.
This means an unprecedented amount of work for chimney sweeps.
“Every time the gas bill goes up, demand goes up,” said chimney sweep Kyran Ryan. “I’m working 12-13 hours a day at the moment. I don’t physically have time to fit all the customers in.”
Nelson Draper, founder of Drapers Chimney Sweeps, says that business is up 12 percent this winter.
“It would be more,” Draper said. “But I also work for a lot of people who want to have existing gas fires removed and chimneys opened up. I have to wait for a gas-registered engineer to remove the fire before I can start work.”
Energy costs in Britain have skyrocketed in the last decade. Gas prices have risen 190 percent during that time and electricity costs have jumped up 120 percent. There are 4.5 million families in the UK facing “fuel poverty” and more than 24,000 people are expected to die from the cold this winter.
“Britain is still the sixth leading economy in the world and that millions of people are struggling to pay their heating bills is a scandal,” Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“People are dying, about 25,000 to 30,000 every winter as a result of the cold,” Peiser added. “Many hundreds of thousands of people only survive because they stay in bed.”
Black Blade: Global Warming? Maybe the folk in the UK would welcome some "warming" eh? I have a wood/coal stove at one cabin but at the other I only have a propane earth stove, propane forced air and electric (backed up by generators). I have been looking at a couple wood stoves at Home Depot to eventually replace the propane stove but for now I am okay and have other pressing concerns - besides, the propane is clean burning and less maintenance so there are trade-offs. Easy enough to swap out though and I have access to firewood as I live just below the tree line in the high country and have treed property at the other cabin. Of course I have also thought about adding another 1,000 gal propane tank.