A Burning Question
High natural gas prices drove Phill White to look for other ways to heat his Columbia auto repair business.
"Whenever I heard that the fuel and natural gas prices were supposed to go up like 50%, I went out and bought this furnace."
But, gas isn't driving these flames.
"We use waste oil that we drain out of people's cars," White explained. "The oil itself is virtually free to us, you know. It probably would have cost me $500-$600 to heat a building of this size."
But motor oil isn't the only waste that's keeping people warm this winter. Pellet stoves are hotter than ever, like the one Ida McViker has in her basement.
"It's quick and easy," she said. "No wood to haul in or get snowed in, because you're going to have it in the house already."
It's also clean. You just put pellets, made from trash lumber, in the hamper and the stove feeds itself. In fact, there's a shortage of pellets because the wood stove's so popular, although McViker has enough to last through this winter.
But don't worry, there's another alternative. At Bob's Furniture Store in Tipton, the heat isn't burning--it's popping. Bob Stonner uses a corn furnace in his store. He says he decided to sell the furnaces himself because they work so well.
"I could sell a hundred of them if I had them," Stonner added. "I have people calling me from all around the country."
And, he says, it's cheaper for the furnace to burn corn because of the low price per bushel.
"Right now, corn is at $1.45. And it burns more than just corn," Stonner elaborated. "We can burn corn, oats, barley, milo, wheat, cherry pits, olive pits, any biomass that you can auger through a two-inch tube."
Before the corn stove, Stonner couldn't afford to heat the back part of his store. Now, he says, the corn stove will pay for itself within three years.
So, thanks to affordable alternatives, Stonner and others like him aren't left out in the cold this winter.