Business Booming for Maker of Renewable Fuel Stoves
The cold weather of winter is finally on the way, after an early November that felt more like September.
Many people have been getting ready for the cold in unique ways, after months of hearing about the sky rocketing price of heating fuel.
One type of fuel that's still a bargain is corn, that's right, kernels of corn.
The kernels are used in a traditional looking stove that's fueled by corn, not wood.
It's an idea Mike Haefner has been working on for more than 30 years. An idea with which Haefner has built American Energy Systems Inc, 35,000 foot furnace factory that produces 30 different models.
Mike Rotzein was taking off sharp edges, getting a Magnum Countryside model ready for finishing. He and the others at the plant are working as fast as they can do quality work because folks like the economy of the corn stoves. Haefner says heating with corn costs $3 or $4 per million British Thermal Units, BTUs, a measure of heat.
"If you're comparing that to natural gas, that's about $15 to $20 per million BTUs, so you're talking one-third the cost to heat with corn rather than natural gas," says Haefner.
Haefner says demand started growing when natural gas prices started rising quickly, four years ago. He says that occurred about the time folks started showing interest in using renewable fuels like corn. And mostly, he says, it's folks in larger, older houses who notice the biggest savings.
"If you put it into a home that's 3,000 square feet, moderately insulated, you'll pay for the unit in one year," explains Haefner.
Haefner says corn stoves or furnaces require work that gas furnaces don't. They need to be filled with corn every day and they need a weekly cleaning. But he says his customers don't seem to mind the extra work when they see the financial savings.
In addition to corn kernels, Haefner's stoves can burn cherry pits, olive pits, wood pellets, wheat, oats, barley, rye, waste paper, and waste diapers. That would be the waste from a diaper manufacturer, not used diapers.
By Ken Speake KARE 11 News.