“Coal!?” you say. “Blech! Dirty, polluting, nasty stuff. People stopped using it on the 1950’s for a reason.”
Well, stereo-types die hard. What’s different in today’s world? A few things:
- Oil prices – at $3.70+ per gallon of home heating oil you GOTTA look for an alternative.
- Efficient stoves – today’s stoves are much better than the stoves of old. They produce fewer emissions and generate more heat on less fuel.
- Hard coal – it’s what you burn in your home, not the soft, more dirty coal that’s burned in power plants to generate electricity.
There are upsides to using coal as compared to other sources of fuel:
- Compared to wood, you don’t have to fill the stove repeatedly. You start the fire at the beginning of the year and it never goes out. A stove will typically burn for 12 hours without re-fueling.
- Compared to wood the heat is more consistent, less “holy crap, open the windows” followed by “close the windows now, it’s getting cool.”
- Compared to oil and natural gas, coal is “Made in the U.S.A.”
- Unlike natural gas you can stockpile coal, like wood.
The United States has the largest reserves of coal in the world, some 27% of the world’s total reserves! Talk about energy independence and kicking the oil addiction.
“Anthracite” is the hard coal best suited for home heating. It’s found largely in Pennsylvania. It has the highest carbon content and the lowest ash content. It also burns slow. Other coal mining states include Montana, Illinois, Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Colorado, Texas, and Indiana.
Here are a few interesting links:
New York Times article on researchers developing a super-clean burning furnace that can heat an entire home using pulverized coal – right here.
Mother Earth News “Wood and Coal Stove Advisory“.
Hearth.com, “Central Heat from Wood, Pellets, Corn or Coal“.
When (or if) we do battle with Iran, you’ll be glad you’ve dropped heating oil. Then again, maybe I’m speaking to a limited audience. New England homes are heavily reliant on home heating oil.
– Ranger Man