The benefits of heating with a coal-fired furnace include the low cost of coal and the fact that anthracite coal burns cleanly without producing strong odor or smoke. Coal does not spoil, and it is possible to store the fuel indefinitely. Since coal is produced domestically, people who purchase coal directly support the national economy.
In the United States, coal was the most-popular fuel source from roughly 1850 to 1925. During this era, coal was not only used for heating purposes but for the majority of industrial processes. During the 1930s, fuel oil burners became practical and safe for the first time. By the early Postwar Era, heating with coal was widely perceived as backwards or old-fashioned.
Coal use for residential purposes reached a historic low in 2006. However, residential coal consumption
rose 19 percent over the course of the next two years. Nevertheless, residential consumption only accounts for a fraction of U.S. coal use. Economically speaking, residential coal heating makes the most sense in places close to where coal is mined. In these areas, the cost of coal heating is relatively stable, particularly when comparing with heating oil and natural gas. Residential coal burning is controversial, and some air quality experts worry about the fine particles produced during this process.