Compost might not be the greatest of home heat sources. While compost piles produce a good amount of heat, they’re not quite efficient enough to provide a reliable source of power. A study of whether compost could be used to heat a greenhouse concluded that compost heat could only be used as a heat suppliment, and that gases produced through decomposition posed problems.
The methane and other gases that are produced by decomposition of organic substances are emitted at high temperatures and can be utilized to heat, for example, a pipe full of water running through the compost heap. The compost does need to have a sufficiently large volume, and must be well-constructed so as to prevent any heat from escaping. The link goes to an experiment of water heating using compost; look through it, their results are pleasing.
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