We’ve been on a journey. A journey to reduce our heating bill. You maybe remember a couple of previous posts discussing our desire to buy a corn stove? To quickly fill you in, we live in Minnesota, also known as the frozen tundra. Our two story house sits on top of a hill that seems to beckon the north wind to whistle through our house. Last year alone, we spent $2,000 on fuel. That doesn’t include any other utilities. Given that most of that was used within 5 months, I know we’re spending between $350-$400/month on heat. Ouch.
Our decision to get a corn stove actually started the way most major decisions start; the influence of friends. A couple years ago, some good frugal friends of ours got a corn stove, and we watched with amazement as they avoided running their furnace most of the entire year.
Each time we were invited over, the conversation would drift to their corn stove. We asked so many questions. “Does it heat your whole house?” “Is it a lot of work?” “How much corn do you have to add each day?” “How do you circulate the heat throughout the house?” “How much have you saved?” And on, and on our questions went. They were so patient to share their experience with us.
After receiving the appropriate amount of reassurance and encouragement, we stepped out to explore our options. We knew we would purchase our appliance from American Energy Systems, whose headquarters and manufacturing plant resides in our town! Plus, we know Mike invented the corn stove and well, our friends pictured above, already had a great experience.
Our next task was to ask lots more questions, this time of American Energy Systems. They were so patient with us, and spoke in terms we could understand. Not only are cost savings important to us, so are safety (we have young kids) and practicality (we live on the frozen tundra remember). I decided to take a little trip down to the showroom, and loved every minute of exploring the options I had already memorized online.
Our friends have a Baby Countryside that works great for them. However, they live in town and have a rambler. We needed something a little bigger, and if there’s anything I’ve learned from this process, every family, home, and heating need is different. I can’t stress enough for you to ask plenty of questions when you start down this path. We ultimately chose the Countryside, in plain black with a pedestal. Since much of our home decor is Asian inspired, with world travel accents, we needed a stove that would fit in with our unique style.
Having grown up on a farm, I could feel my excitement grow as I looked forward to being able to burn corn, wheat, or wood pellets in my stove. I was also told that the latest in technology is already in my existing stove purchase, and it will be able to burn so many more biomass options in the near future!
Here’s a picture of just a few “fuels of the future” coming our way. One of the selling points on this stove is its ability to burn a combination of fuels, based on availability and lowest price. Since I live in the heart of corn country, my guess is that corn will be our fuel of choice.
Home Owners Insurance
Next, I made a quick call to our insurance company to inform them of our purchase. I really expected to have to explain what we were doing, but I found the phone call quick and easy. There is a simple $50 fee that will be added to our policy, and as long as installation is according to regulation, there is no problem. I guess they actually add quite a few alternative heating appliances to policies. Our current furnace needs to remain in place according to law; even if we don’t use it.
One obstacle I didn’t anticipate was flooring. Obviously, the stove can’t be installed on carpet or any flammable surface, so we needed to choose between a fire proof pad or more permanent flooring options. Initially, I wanted to just go with a pad (lazy, practical, and cheap Mom-Choice), but my husband convinced me to go with tile. Since I usually do the projects in the house (that’s a whole other blog post folks), I started to dread the choice of tile. I knew that ceramic tile wouldn’t hold up as well as porcelain. I also knew that cutting porcelain tile wouldn’t be easy. As it turns out, we made the decision to spend a little more on SnapStone tiles. Since they don’t require a sub-flooring (sub-floor is built-in) and we only had a small space to do, it actually wasn’t too expensive. The whole project was easy enough for a WAHM mom to install with a toddler’s “help”.
Our stove arrived so quick, that we had to wait until the grout cured before we could set it in place. The kids were very excited to watch the process unfold, and I was happy there were enough guys to do all the lifting. In no time it was set in place and ready for installation, which required a few more decisions. Did we want the venting to go up and out or did we want the venting to go straight out of the house? Both had their advantages, but we decided on straight out of the house. That way we wouldn’t see the venting at all.
American Energy Systems arranged for B&C Plumbing to do the installation. They are certified and know the laws and specifications, so I didn’t have to worry about anything.They were very polite and cleaned up every spec of dust before leaving.
A WAHM’s (work at home mom’s) dream team!
A Brand New Toy
We brought our first bag of corn into the house, and it was like a brand new toy. Everyone wanted to explore and touch the corn. I did too. I still go over and dig my hand in. It’s like being back on the farm, and I love it.
And then it happened…When I was pouring the second bag of corn into the wicker storage basket, the unthinkable happened. We had a monumental fuel spill. Unlike the horrible aftermath in the Gulf, our fuel spill was easy to clean up. No animals died and the environment was untouched. At that profound moment, I knew we were making a good choice for our home, the Earth, our family, and our savings account. Our Magnum Countryside stove is ready to go, and wouldn’t you know that there’s 80 degree days in our forecast? Every Minnesotan knows THAT won’t last!
Waiting for Tax Time
For the first time ever, I am looking forward to tax time. Our stove qualifies for the $1,500 Energy Tax Credit, which is definitely an added bonus!