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Using Corn to Heat the Home Has North Americans Shucking

Freestanding stoves, fireplace inserts and furnaces provide a cost-effective way to burn with environmental benefits.

Hutchinson, Minn. - Since building his first corn-burning stove in 1984, Mike Haefner, founder of Countryside Corn Stoves in Hutchinson, Minnesota, has grown sales by more than 750 percent and cultivated national interest in burning corn as a home heating fuel.

Haefner 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."

This technology for utilizing biomass fuels, such as organically fertilized corn, is making renewable energy sources a very real option for consumers looking for an inexpensive alternative to fuel oil, coal, natural gas, or other fossil fuels.

Demand for corn stoves continues to grow in the U.S. and internationally. In 2001, sales of corn-burning appliances were up 500 percent. Last year, approximately 35 manufacturers introduced their own versions of the corn stove. The low cost of corn combined with volatile energy market drove early sales of the corn appliance, but recent interest has come from consumers looking for environmentally friendly ways to warm their homes with a low-cost, efficient renewable resource.

Corn stoves emit less than one gram of fine particulates per hour, well below the United States Environmental Protection Agency 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 released the carbon dioxide it previously absorbed.

"To heat with corn, you grow it, you clean in, you dry it, you burn it - no refining necessary as with other fuels," added Haefner. "Heating with corn also opens new markets to farmers."

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