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Alternate Method of Heating the Home

Using anthracite coal to heat the home has a number of benefits and drawbacks.  Many people find this energy source to be a concept that is totally foreign because they require stoves and boilers which are not readily accessible in the country.  Below are the pros and cons of using this source of energy to provide the home with heat:


It is less costly when compared with other conventional methods of heating.  In comparison to home heating oil, an entire ton of anthracite coal equals approximately 200 gallons of the heating oil.  Additionally, it is less costly when compared to propane and is equivalent to 310 pounds and a single ton of this coal is equivalent to 8200 kilowatt hours of electricity.

It does not spoil and can be stored just about anywhere.  Coal can be purchased in bulk or it can be bought in 40 and 50 pound bags.  It is important to note that bagged coal is more costly than bulk coal.

It burns clean and there is no smoke or odor.

When the coal is used in a boiler, it can heat the entire home as well as the water supply and this eliminates the requirement for hot water heaters.  Boiler heat is much more efficient because water is heated and not air.  Steam boilers or hydronics can easily heat a whole apartment complex and each unit will be able to use its own thermostat to control the heat. The water in the boiler will stay hot even when not in use and it is ready for laundry, cleaning, bathing and other uses for hot water.

The money that is invested in coal heating remains in the United States, instead of going outside of the country to support foreign nations.


Unavailability is the biggest con.  Anthracite is exclusively found in Pennsylvania, mainly in the North East Pennsylvania Coal Region and because of the costs associated with transportation, access may be restricted in certain areas.

Either a boiler, a furnace or a stove is required to burn this coal and it is more complex to operate in comparison to furnaces that are powered by electricity or natural gas.  A stoker is essentially a coal burning heater which requires periodic maintenance that includes supplying the heater with pieces of coal and removing of ash, which is a by-product of the burning coal. Ash has to be removed almost on a daily basis when coal is constantly burning during the months of winter and a minimum of once a week when times get warmer.  Every 50 pounds of burnt coal produces 5 to 10 pounds of ash and if it is left unattended, the pan containing the ash will overflow and result in a lot of dust.  In addition, the ash must be removed from any ventilating system in the chimney.

Using anthracite coal to provide the home with heat is a cost effective option.  However, in contrast to natural gas or electric heating, it could be challenging to empty the ash pan on a daily basis and in the winter, daily access to the burning system is required.

Article written by Dave Watson.