Just as flex-fuel cars can switch between different fuels, flex-fuel or multi-fuel heating stoves and fireplace inserts can swap between wood pellets, corn and other biomass fuels, allowing cabin owners to choose the fuel to heat their homes based on the best price and availability.
First developed in response to the alternative energy movement, flex-fuel stoves caught on when a popular alternative fuel source – wood pellets made from recycled sawdust – was in short supply and prices skyrocketed.
Wood pellet prices and supplies have since stabilized, but flex-fuel stoves still make sense for some cabin owners, especially those near rural farming communities who have access to inexpensive bulk quantities of corn, wheat, cherry pits, nut shells, sunflower seed hulls or other plant-based wastes. With the flex option, if one fuel source becomes costly or unavailable, cabin owners can always switch to another, seizing the opportunity to save money on heating costs.
Of course, there are environmental advantages to burning a recycled, renewable resource rather than a fossil fuel. Additionally, flex-fuel stoves and fireplace inserts are designed to burn cleanly and efficiently, meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current stringent emissions guidelines.
The downside: These stoves and inserts require a little extra effort and maintenance. But for some, the cost savings on fuel are worth it.