Since we live in cold North, and have limited home heating funds, we have to be creative about how we heat our house. We had a new furnace and heat pump installed. The heat pump heats our house as long as it is above 20 degrees f. When it dips below that our furnace kicks in. However, if we heated our house with the furnace, our heat bill for the below 20 timeframe would be over $2000. That is a huge expense, so we also have a corn stove. Corn stoves are definately not for the mechanically challenged. It is important to clean them our really well and often. This requires taking a lot of it apart. However, our living room is now over 80 degrees, and the rest of the house is about 70 degrees, this room is 75. We have a Bixby corn stove and it is very efficient.
These "hockey pucks" are the result of about 3 bushels of corn that went through the stove. There are about 8 of them and they are 3/4" thick and about 4" in diameter.
The other chore with the stove is the lugging of corn into the house. We fill this sled almost once a day (a little less) and that is all the corn our stove requires for a 26 hour heating.
Unlike ethanol, corn grown for home heating does not take much land at all. We use 1 acre of corn each year. It is not the most idea of heating solutions (geothermal being our favorite choice) but you do what you can when you have an old house. My mother hates it. It is HOT in the living room, and it is NOISY. The heat is very dry and you can not put pots of water on it to increase the humidity because the outside does not get hot enough. But, it paid for itself the first winter. Before we had it, we had our old fuel oil furnace (they put out a lot more heat than propane ones but it is dirtier) and it cost us $500 a month. That was about 4 years ago. It has been a savior for our pocket book, seriously. I guess I should add that we get the corn for free, but even if we paid for it, $4 a bushel per day is a lot less than most people pay for heat here.
The other thing to consider about corn stoves is the smoke, it is not like a wood fire, it is not pleasant. I can not see ever having one if I had neighbors close by.