Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Today we bought a corn stove!

A corn stove is a type of pellet stove, which is a type of biofuel stove. “Biofuel” is any fuel that is derived from biomass — recently living organisms or their metabolic byproducts, such as manure from cows. It is a renewable energy source, unlike other natural resources such as petroleum, coal, and nuclear fuels.

The shelled dry kernel of corn, also called a corn pellet, creates as much heat as a wood pellet but generates more ash. Corn pellet stoves and wood pellet stoves look the same from the outside. In fact, the brand we bought, Pelpro, burns both corn and wood pellets. Since these stoves are highly efficient, they don't need a chimney; instead they can be vented outdoors by a four-inch pipe through an outside wall and so can be located in any room in the home. You can see a photo of the one we bought here:


I know, I know, more than you ever wanted to know about corn stoves! I am very pleased to get away from or at least greatly reduce our personal reliance on propane. We filled our 500 gallon propane tank at the beginning of December for $730 and now the gauge reads 10% only six weeks later. And to date this has been an unseasonably warm Minnesota winter! One ton of dried corn pellets, bought in bulk from the local feed mill, costs $142. There are about 30 bushels in a ton and we will use about one bushel a day to heat the house. Yeah, I already like those numbers!

We’ll need to shuffle things around in the living room area (like the bed, dresser and couch) to accommodate the stove, but we’re happy to do that. We’ve wanted a corn stove since we learned about them shortly after we bought the farm. We had to special order the 4-inch vent pipe, which will be ready for pick up tomorrow, and then Ian will install the stove. We’ll get a pick-up load of corn from the feed mill tomorrow too, so we should be up and running tomorrow afternoon. It will be nice to turn the propane thermostat down. We cannot be completely propane free as we will use it for cooking in the new kitchen and it heats our water heater, but we can reduce how much we use.


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