Coal for Home Heating – Made in the U.S.A.

“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:
  1. Oil prices – at $3.70+ per gallon of home heating oil  you GOTTA look for an alternative.
  2. Efficient stoves – today’s stoves are much better than the stoves of old. They produce fewer emissions and generate more heat on less fuel.
  3. 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:
  1. 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.
  2. Compared to wood the heat is more consistent, less “holy crap, open the windows” followed by “close the windows now, it’s getting cool.”
  3. Compared to oil and natural gas, coal is “Made in the U.S.A.”
  4. 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“., “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 BTW: Have the presidential candidates got you down? This just in – Mike Gravel is running for President as a Libertarian. He was running for President previously . . . in the Democratic primary. Here is yesterday’s CNN interview with Gravel, this news is fresh! Back on coal, though, think we’ll see posters like this when the Iran War begins? History repeats itself.


8 comments… add one
  • Chris in Ky March 31, 2008, 7:15 am

    Compared to oil and natural gas, coal is “Made in the U.S.A.”

    We have a bunch of natural gas here as well.

    The big push on gas prices are all the new natural gas generators that the electric companies are putting on line.

    It would help if the government would allow some new coal burners, but, with the economy who would want to take the risk.

  • March 31, 2008, 9:01 am

    I agree somewhat Rangerman, though there is a price to fossil fuels (any fuel, actually) that the world pays over and above the sticker price. The real price we pay is much much higher than people may think.

    For example, see

    Yeah I know, those crazy assed environmentalists. Why think about protecting the earth we need in order to survive? Its here for our exploitation, domination, and destruction. Well, as long as you don’t do it my backyard.

    In the long run the best course of action is wisely using our energy resources rather than waste them on heating and cooling massive homes, driving huge vehicles, taking 30-minute showers, etc. Otherwise the law of supply and demand will continue to force prices up.

    Some people get the message already but the diehards will wait until the price of energy forces them into conservation, which is starting to happen now.

  • Harmony Hermit March 31, 2008, 9:31 am

    The only type of coal suitable for home heating is Anthracite. It is found only in NE PA and the fields have been heavily worked over. The only coal left is in deep mines, the easily mined surface veins have been depleted. Anthracite burns hot and relatively clean with little pollution and mess. Do a Google search for “Phoebe Snow” (Not the singer) for an interesting historical sidelight.

    Most of the remaining coal is Bituminous and Lignite, which burns dirty and requires technology to reduce acid rain and pollutants. Good for power plants, not so good for homes.

    Most ‘mericans are not ready to haul coal and ashes and light off fires. And modern coal mining is heavily mechanized, requiring lots of juice and diesel locomotives to move it.

    There are no easy alternatives to our oil based economy. The party is over and the police are on their way .

  • ryan March 31, 2008, 12:06 pm

    For a survivalist perspective coal is better then oil but less good then wood. It heats better and more even, no argument there. I grew up heating with a wood stove and know the “stove roaring and door open” situation all too well. With coal it is practical to store a lot of it but not to get more in an independent manner. It is not possible or at least not practical to take a shovel and go dig some coal as can be done with an ax and wood.

  • the texan March 31, 2008, 2:21 pm

    Like H. H. said most of the easy coal is gone. The mines are getting deeper and deeper and some are already being closed because they are so deep the pressure is too great and they are dangerous.

  • noisynick April 1, 2008, 6:00 am

    Once again I have to think that renewable resources with a conservative plan will be the only answer………………
    There is the possibility that some totally new energy source could be developed it happened with Oil 150 years ago. It could happen again with perhaps hydrogen but it will be techonlogy that comes to the rescue and not raw materail I think this time.

  • Jack May 30, 2008, 7:27 pm

    What we need to do, is solve the energy crisis now. Oil prices as well. Have you seen what oil users have been going through? Some are even going as far as stealing oil supplies. Working for NORA, I fully support greener alternatives. But you know, oil users can just use a B5 blend of oil and help conserve 400 MILLION gallons of oil. Plus, it produces NO greenhouse gases, reduces emissions, and can be made with many veggies. LoL. Grab some info from this site:

  • MACD August 3, 2017, 8:30 pm

    But a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding design .


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