Nova Scotia

Falmouth's Peter Maxner uses rye grain to heat his house

Many of us have turned to rye to warm ourselves on a cold winter evening, but a Nova Scotian man relies on it for all of his heat.

Just make sure you have room to store 12 tonnes of grain near your house

Falmouth, N.S., man has been heating his home with grain since 2005. 1:46

Many of us have turned to rye to warm ourselves on a cold winter evening, but a Nova Scotian man relies on it for all of his heat.

Peter Maxner of Falmouth gets the heat not from whiskey, but by burning the grain.

"I wanted to go to something that was a little more environmentally friendly and I also wanted something that was a lot less labour for me personally," he says.

"I have burned wood and I like wood but there's a lot of physical labour involved into it."

Peter Maxner says other rural residents should follow his lead. (CBC)

He’s used rye to heat his family home since 2005. He figures he’ll go through 12 tonnes of grain this year at a cost of about $2,000. That keeps his two-storey home warm.

He bought the grain from a Kings County farmer and he burns it in a specialized furnace made in the U.S.

"You don't get the same amount of BTUs out of rye that you do out of corn. But you just burn a little bit more to get the same sort of heat that you need," Maxner says.

Before ditching your regular furnace, make sure you have room for a 12-tonne grain bin, pipes from the furnace shed to your house, and the time needed to check on the grain supply and clean ashes from the burner.  

Maxner doesn’t mind, as he’s often outside visiting his two Clydesdale horses, Abbie and Maggie. He urges other rural people to follow his path.

"I think it's an exceptionally good thing because if you have the land base, you can actually grow the crop. The straw you can sell or use as mulch back into things on your property and then you've got your grain to use as heat for the winter time,” he said.

Here's the furnace Maxner uses to burn the rye grain. (CBC)

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