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But access to accurate information on the heat values of wheat, rye, and corn is not

easy to come by.

Most grain stove websites parrot the figure of 500,000 Btu's per bushel of grain when

in fact it's actually 15 - 20% less depending on the grain.

A better source for agricultural information is your local university cooperative

extension. The following bushel weight and heat value measurements for rye, wheat,

and corn are from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

**Rye** 56 lbs/bu 7,212 Btu/lb 413,881 Btu/bu (British thermal units per bushel)

**Wheat ** 60 lbs/bu 7,160 Btu/lb 429,600 Btu/bu

**Corn** 56 lbs/bu 6,970 Btu/lb 390,320 Btu/bu

A quick glance shows the heat value for each grain is quite a bit lower than the

500,000 Btu per bushel frequently cited as the norm.

Using wheat as an example, let's compare the cost to heat a home using the 500,000

Btu rating versus the more accurate 429,600 Btu heat value.

According to Al Heath, an energy consultant in Maine, the "average" home in Maine

consumes around 150 million Btu's during the heating season.

This works out to 300 bushels of wheat per season at 500,000 Btu's vs. 349 bushels

at 429,600 Btu's - or a whopping 49 bushels difference!

At $5.22 a bushel you would have underestimated your heating budget by 16%, or

$256, by using the higher 500,000 Btu/bu figure.

Overestimating the heat value of any fuel will result in underestimating the amount of

fuel needed for the heating season and the corresponding cost. Winter temperatures

are unpredictable as it is without having to face a potential fuel shortage that could

otherwise have been avoided.

If you're interested in tracking the daily cash price for wheat and corn, check out the

Chicago Mercantile Exchange home page.

Rye is another story. Rye is such a thinly traded commodity it's difficult to get a timely

fix on the price. However, I did locate a Canadian rye farmer with a substantial supply

selling for $9 - $10 a bushel depending on the quantity.

If you're considering a grain boiler to augment or replace your current oil system,

here's an easy way to estimate how many bushels of grain you'll need.

Let's say you burned 1,000 gallons of fuel oil last heating season. Each gallon of

heating oil produces 139,000 Btu's, so multiply 1,000 x 139,000 to arrive at the

number of Btu's required per heating season. In this case the answer is 139,000,000.

Now divide 139,000,000 by the number of Btu's per bushel of grain. If you're going to

burn wheat, divide 139,000,000 by 429,600 for a total of 324 bushels. In other words,

it takes 324 bushels of wheat to equal the heat value of 1,000 gallons of fuel oil.

By the way, you can find the Btu value per unit for various fuels in the second column

of the Fuel Comparison Chart.

easy to come by.

Most grain stove websites parrot the figure of 500,000 Btu's per bushel of grain when

in fact it's actually 15 - 20% less depending on the grain.

A better source for agricultural information is your local university cooperative

extension. The following bushel weight and heat value measurements for rye, wheat,

and corn are from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

A quick glance shows the heat value for each grain is quite a bit lower than the

500,000 Btu per bushel frequently cited as the norm.

Using wheat as an example, let's compare the cost to heat a home using the 500,000

Btu rating versus the more accurate 429,600 Btu heat value.

According to Al Heath, an energy consultant in Maine, the "average" home in Maine

consumes around 150 million Btu's during the heating season.

This works out to 300 bushels of wheat per season at 500,000 Btu's vs. 349 bushels

at 429,600 Btu's - or a whopping 49 bushels difference!

At $5.22 a bushel you would have underestimated your heating budget by 16%, or

$256, by using the higher 500,000 Btu/bu figure.

Overestimating the heat value of any fuel will result in underestimating the amount of

fuel needed for the heating season and the corresponding cost. Winter temperatures

are unpredictable as it is without having to face a potential fuel shortage that could

otherwise have been avoided.

If you're interested in tracking the daily cash price for wheat and corn, check out the

Chicago Mercantile Exchange home page.

Rye is another story. Rye is such a thinly traded commodity it's difficult to get a timely

fix on the price. However, I did locate a Canadian rye farmer with a substantial supply

selling for $9 - $10 a bushel depending on the quantity.

If you're considering a grain boiler to augment or replace your current oil system,

here's an easy way to estimate how many bushels of grain you'll need.

Let's say you burned 1,000 gallons of fuel oil last heating season. Each gallon of

heating oil produces 139,000 Btu's, so multiply 1,000 x 139,000 to arrive at the

number of Btu's required per heating season. In this case the answer is 139,000,000.

Now divide 139,000,000 by the number of Btu's per bushel of grain. If you're going to

burn wheat, divide 139,000,000 by 429,600 for a total of 324 bushels. In other words,

it takes 324 bushels of wheat to equal the heat value of 1,000 gallons of fuel oil.

By the way, you can find the Btu value per unit for various fuels in the second column

of the Fuel Comparison Chart.

fuel stoves as they're

sometimes called, have been

available for decades. But

recent fuel price volatility has

renewed interest among

homeowners looking for ways

to control heating costs.

The three types of grain

commonly used as fuel in grain

stoves are corn, wheat, and

rye. Of the three, corn is by far

the most widely consumed

because it is also the most

widely available.

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