Home Heating with Anthracite Coal: Pros and Cons

A boiler.

Home heating with anthracite coal has benefits and drawbacks. For many, using an energy source is totally a foreign concept because they require boilers and stoves which are not readily available throughout the country. Boilers can be purchased and installed to provide heat. Here are both the pros and cons for using Anthracite coal to heat your home.

Pros

It’s less expensive than other conventional heating methods. Compared to home heating oil, a ton of anthracite coal can equal almost 200 gallons of home heating oil. It also is less expensive than propane equaling 310 pounds and one ton of Anthracite coal equals 8,200 kilowatt hours of electricity.

Anthracite coal also burns clean with no odor or smoke.

It can be stored anywhere and does not spoil. Coal is delivered in bulk or can be purchased in 40 to 50 pound bags. However, bagged coal is more expensive than loose, or bulk, coal.

When used in a boiler, anthracite coal can heat your home as well as your entire water supply eliminating the need for a hot water heater. Boiler heat is more efficient because it heats water, not air. Hydronic, or steam boilers, can easily heat an entire apartment complex where each unit can control the heat with its own thermostat. Water in the boiler remains hot even when no heat is required and is ready for bathing, cleaning, laundry, and other hot water uses.

Money invested in coal heating stays in the U.S., as opposed to traveling out of the country, supporting a foreign nation.

Cons

The largest negative is availability. Anthracite is found exclusively in Pennsylvania, mostly in the NEPA region (North East Pennsylvania Coal Region), and due to transportation costs, your area may have limited access.

Burning anthracite coal requires either a stove, furnace, or a boiler that is more complicated to operate than electric or natural gas-powered furnaces. A stoker is a coal-burning heater that needs periodic maintenance, supplying it with coal pieces and removal of ash – a byproduct of burning coal.

Ash needs to be removed almost daily when constantly burning coal during cold weather months and at least once per week during warmer times. Five to 10 pounds of ash are produced per every 50 pounds of coal burned. If left unattended, the ash pan will overflow, creating a good deal of dust. Additionally, ash needs to be cleaned from any chimney ventilating system.

Dust is problematic when burning coal.

Like all fossil fuels, burning anthracite coal emits deadly carbon monoxide so a good chimney is a necessity.

Overall

Burning anthracite coal to heat a home can be a cost-effective option to heat your home. Unlike electric or natural gas heating, it can be a challenge to empty an ash pan every day and requires daily access to the burning system in the winter.