VIENNA, Austria - Long underwear in South Korea, extra sweaters in U.S. classrooms, rising sales of wood-burning stoves in Denmark. Winter is here, and because of a spike in heating costs, people from Tokyo to Toledo are looking for alternatives to oil.
Heating oil and other energy prices are up to 40 percent higher than they were three years ago. That translates into bad news for Northern Hemisphere consumers whose budget is already stretched by a summer of high prices at the gasoline pumps - and into opportunities for those who cash in on the cold.
In South Korea, where a vigorous save-energy campaign is under way, the clothing industry expects a 10 percent rise in profits from sales of warm apparel. But not only manufacturers see an opportunity.
"We have seen a lot of thefts of heating oil ... stolen from private properties and construction sites," says Peter Josephsen, a police officer in Ringkoebing, Denmark, 140 miles west of Copenhagen.
Henrik Sloth, who sells wood-burning stoves and fireplaces in Roskilde, Denmark, says sales are "smoking hot." And Denise Henry, whose family deals in firewood in France's Bourgogne region, says "the phone is ringing off the hook."
The South Korean government is urging people to wear long underwear and is running a campaign called Nan 2018 - the Korean word for "I am" that is also the Chinese character meaning warmth. 2018 refers to the goal of setting thermostats between 64 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the United States, some school districts have written to parents asking them to dress their children in an extra sweater to compensate for lowered thermostats.
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