Corn as an Alternative Home Heating Solution

by on March 17th, 2013
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If you’ve got a spare acre or two with nothing better to do with it than grow corn, it might surprise you to know that you can use that spare acreage to reduce your winter home heating costs and reduce your dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear energy, as well. At any rate, a few days’ worth of work could save you thousands of dollars through the winter on heating your home.

A corn furnace, sometimes called a biomass furnace, automatically feeds itself from a hopper. It’s primary benefit, aside from warming your home, is that unlike a wood burning stove, a corn furnace produces no creosote. Creosote, as you may know, is a highly flammable by-product created by woodworking stoves. It adheres to the inside surfaces of chimney flues, and can catch on fire with just a single spark. This lack of creosote has a safety benefit, but it also means that it’s better for the environment than a wood burning stove. In fact, corn burning furnaces qualify for energy saving tax credits, where many standard furnaces do not.

The green benefits of using a corn furnace do not stop with the immediate effects, though. They also help local farmers and the local economy, as well. If you don’t raise and dry your own corn, or live on a smaller lot where it isn’t possible to grow your own fuel, check with your local farmer’s market or feed store to find inexpensive seed corn that can be used in the furnace. As long as you purchase your burning stock from local sources, you can be sure that you’re helping your local economy and avoiding adding pollution to the air.

Corn furnaces don’t use the whole corn cob. Rather, they use the kernels after they have been dried out and removed from the cob. There are a range of sizes available, with outputs ranging from 100,000 BTU to 170,000 BTU. This compares equally to a standard home furnace which can produce approximately the same amount of heat, but at a greater cost when utilizing gas for fuel, or with greater ecological impact, such as is the case with coal or oil-fired furnaces.

While corn furnaces are still primarily a rural phenomenon, there’s a good chance that this alternative fuel source will find its way into quite a number of homes in the future, particularly those held by owners who want to get themselves as far “off the grid” as they possibly can.

Sources:
America’s Heat: Corn Furnaces, Corn Heating; www.americasheat.com


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