Home Heating Options

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I’ve a wood burning fireplace in my own home. I also own a free-standing cast iron stove as a backup system should I ever need it. There are different kinds of home stoves for heating. Some of the most popular options for alternative heating are:


Corn burners

The upside to a corn burning stove is that the fuel is readily available. This time of year you can buy big bags of corn at the grocery store, or the big box store. It’s primarily used to attract and feed deer but it’s affordable at around $5-6 per 50lb bag and therefore a cheap alternative heat source.
You can’t really burn corn in a regular stove or fireplace. You need a corn burning stove to do that. Some folks call these pellet stoves and some pellet stoves can also burn corn.

Which leads us to:

Pellet Stoves

Pellet stoves burn wood pellets, although there are some models that will also burn corn kernels. Pellet stoves don’t burn traditional wood but instead utilize wood pellets. Those pellets are typically made from recycled wood shavings and/or sawdust.

The pellets can be found at farm & garden stores as well as farm stores with the prices for the bags similar to corn, around $5-6 per 40-50lb bag.
Pellet stoves offer a high combustion efficiency but can be troublesome to keep filled and to repair when/if a problem arises. They do require electricity to operate as the thermostat and automatic ignition require power to run. They’re clean burners and most meet the EPA emissions standards across the US.

Kerosene Heaters

Most folks that use a kerosene heater use one in their barn, garage or other outbuilding. Kerosene heaters are smaller than pellet stoves and more affordable. They work well in extreme cold yet they aren’t the prettiest thing, and require you to store kerosene. Kerosene too is hard to locate. You used to be able to purchase kerosene at the local gas station. Today, you might find a station that still carries it, otherwise, you’ll have to buy gallon jugs of it at the hardware store.

Propane & Gas Stoves

My grandparents had a big old propane stove in their living room and I grew up in a house with small little propane heaters in each room. These days, most homes have a natural gas line and typically use a whole house gas system. Country folk, like me, have to rely on other means. You’ll find lots of propane tanks in the country because, unless they’re total electric, or heat with wood, you can bet that rural folks use propane.
Propane has a low flammability point too making it a safer choice over gas.

There are some alternative heating methods as well. These range from passive solar gain to geothermal.

In my own home, which is total electric, I have the mentioned wood-burning fireplace, a backup cast iron wood-burning stove and a water-source geothermal heat pump. My home is also an earth-shelter which gives us great thermal mass which insulates the house from extreme heat and cold. We use the heating system less often because the house holds thermal mass. We rarely use any heat before the holidays and then sparingly.

Do your homework to decide what kind of heat is best for you and your situation.