The Heat Goes On
Since building his first corn burning stove in 1984, Mike Haefner, founder of American Energy Systems in Hutchinson, Minnesota, has seen sales grow by more than 750% and cultivated national interest in burning corn as a home heating fuel.
Hefner says the reason that people are interested in heating with corn is because it is an environmentally sensitive and renewable fuel. "People are fascinated with the concept of burning corn, especially when they learn it helps their local farmer," said Haefner. "The environmental benefits are undeniable, but perhaps best of all, it's pocketbook friendly." You can often recoup your investment in one heating season.
You'll typically go through three-quarters of a bushel of corn a day, or less than $1.50 per day to heat a 2,000 sq ft home. Compare that to your heating bills.
Corn stoves emit less than one gram of fine particles per hour, well below the EPA's limit of 7.5 grams per hour. In contrast to fossil fuels that release large amounts of carbon dioxide when burned, corn absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows and in the burning process only releases the carbon dioxide it previously absorbed.
"To heat with corn, you grow it, you clean it, you dry it, you burn it - no refining necessary as with other fuels. You can buy bulk corn, even have it delivered and put in specialized containers. The hoppers are easy to fill. You don't have to put up a big expensive chimney because they only require a dryer-style vent.
Corn stoves and furnaces are becoming such a hot item - pardon the pun - some companies are on backorder. They're efficient and low maintenance.