# What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

### What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

I just went through my first coal heating season and am wondering how is the best way to calculate how much money burning coal saved me. Do I get my oil bill for the last 2 seasons then average them & subtract out how much I spent on coal this year? Since I have at least 1 to 2 tons leftover for next year I was going to subtract that out. Next should I include the cost of the stoker & the price of spare parts to get it up & running. I think I am looking at a lot of the different variables & making this harder then I should but I'm really curious.

Thank you everyone.
Joeski

Stove/Furnace Model: Susquehanna

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

I would compare fuel to fuel, leaving equipment costs out of the equation.

For me, I used to annually use between 26,000 and 30,000 KWH of electricity. Now I use about 7,000 KWH of electricity, and I also use about 5.25 tons of anthracite.

28,000 KWH - 7,000 KWH = 21,000 KWH of electricity no longer used annually (on average).

If 5.25 tons of anthracite costs less than 21,000 KWH of electricity, I win. If not, I lose.

Believe it or not, with electricity down to only 6 cents per KWH around here (plus distribution charges), I'm currently on the losing side by burning coal. I expected electricity to top 12 cents per KWH by now, but then along came fracking. \$240 per ton for delivered anthracite is my break even point now. It doesn't look like I can approach that when purchasing only 5 to 6 bulk tons annually.
lsayre

Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

I found the Fuel Comparison Calculator provided by this forum, link at the top of the page, very helpful. For me it's when propane hits .75 cents a gallon. It's a break even point for coal. The last time I paid 1.30 a gallon, so im still saving money burning coal. Although this is the cheapest I've paid for propane since I've moved here 12 years ago.
Penn507

Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520
Coal Size/Type: Rice

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

The main problem I see with calculators is getting the efficiencies right. I feel that many over-assume the real world efficiency of their coal burning appliances, and also fail to consider that propane, NG, and even oil appliances are now available in the 94%+ efficiency range. Electricity is essentially 100% efficient.

My real world efficiency is overall somewhere close to 65% for coal. My boiler may well measure at levels approaching to topping 80% when firing, but that level of efficiency comes only when its firing.
lsayre

Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

lsayre wrote:I would compare fuel to fuel, leaving equipment costs out of the equation.

For me, I used to annually use between 26,000 and 30,000 KWH of electricity. Now I use about 7,000 KWH of electricity, and I also use about 5.25 tons of anthracite.

28,000 KWH - 7,000 KWH = 21,000 KWH of electricity no longer used annually (on average).

If 5.25 tons of anthracite costs less than 21,000 KWH of electricity, I win. If not, I lose.

Believe it or not, with electricity down to only 6 cents per KWH around here (plus distribution charges), I'm currently on the losing side by burning coal. I expected electricity to top 12 cents per KWH by now, but then along came fracking. \$240 per ton for delivered anthracite is my break even point now. It doesn't look like I can approach that when purchasing only 5 to 6 bulk tons annually.

I was just going to answer his request by saying "You call lsayre and ask him to figure it out"
dcrane

Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

lsayre wrote:The main problem I see with calculators is getting the efficiencies right. I feel that many over-assume the real world efficiency of their coal burning appliances, and also fail to consider that propane, NG, and even oil appliances are now available in the 94%+ efficiency range. Electricity is essentially 100% efficient.

My real world efficiency is overall somewhere close to 65% for coal. My boiler may well measure at levels approaching to topping 80% when firing, but that level of efficiency comes only when its firing.

You seem to have the efficiency figured out, what's the problem ?
Penn507

Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520
Coal Size/Type: Rice

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

joeski, your method will give you the figures you are looking for--repairs & replacement parts are null & void as far as usage comparison my friend.
freetown fred

Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

lsayre wrote:If 5.25 tons of anthracite costs less than 21,000 KWH of electricity, I win. If not, I lose.

Wow I guess you guys don't have all the extra transmission charges we have here. Our electric rate is 8 cents per kWh ... but after the customer charge, distribution charge for the first xxx kWh's, transition charge, transmission charge, energy efficiency charge, renewable energy charge, your \$40 electric bill becomes \$83 and change. Oil would need to hit \$6.00 a gallon & Coal would have to be \$550 a ton out here to equal electric heat.
SMITTY

Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - custom built by Jim Dorsey
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (not currently in use)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

lsayre wrote:Believe it or not, with electricity down to only 6 cents per KWH around here (plus distribution charges), I'm currently on the losing side by burning coal. I expected electricity to top 12 cents per KWH by now, but then along came fracking. \$240 per ton for delivered anthracite is my break even point now. It doesn't look like I can approach that when purchasing only 5 to 6 bulk tons annually.

Yeah I agree with Smitty.. 6 cents per KW doesn't seem right.. Sure mine is 6 cents per KW + 4 cents per KW supplier fee + 2 or 3 cents whatever plus a charge just to have it on.. So my TRUE cost per KW is like 12.5-14.5 cents per KW depending on the variable supplier fee. I think you might need to take another look at that Divide the total dollars by your total KW usage for the month to get your real cost per KW. I think you will find that your break even point is much higher...
Lightning

Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut Size / White Ash

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

Double post
Lightning

Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut Size / White Ash

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

lsayre wrote:The main problem I see with calculators is getting the efficiencies right.

The efficiencies are adjustable in mine and so are the BTU's where appropriate. One of the things on the to do list is to add options for the wood BTU's. Those vary widely but the issue becomes what is it really? Even if you have the the right maximum BTU you still can't account for other things like moisture.

In any event if I was going to tackle this I'd first calculate how much product I consumed annually over the last few years, if you're on electric or are still partially using another fuel like have oil hot water heater this won't work.

Input your variables into the calculator for both the cost per ton for the coal last year and what it would of cost you for the oil per gallon.

If your average consumption was for example 1000 gallons multiply that by the cost of the oil. If it was \$3.50 then the total is \$3500. In the second part of the calculator input that figure and make sure oil is selected. Hit the recalculate button.

If the total cost of the coal is close to what you actually paid for coal last last year there's your difference and the calculator is accurate.
Richard S.

Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

freetown fred wrote:joeski, your method will give you the figures you are looking for--repairs & replacement parts are null & void as far as usage comparison my friend.

Not when you're comparing fuel costs but if you want an overall cost those have to be considered. The boiler in this house is in it's second home and is older than a few people on this forum, how do you calculate that? LOL
Richard S.

Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

Richard S. wrote:
freetown fred wrote:joeski, your method will give you the figures you are looking for--repairs & replacement parts are null & void as far as usage comparison my friend.

Not when you're comparing fuel costs but if you want an overall cost those have to be considered. The boiler in this house is in it's second home and is older than a few people on this forum, how do you calculate that? LOL

double post^^^ someone infract him!
dcrane

Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

Lightning wrote:Yeah I agree with Smitty.. 6 cents per KW doesn't seem right.. Sure mine is 6 cents per KW + 4 cents per KW supplier fee + 2 or 3 cents whatever plus a charge just to have it on.. So my TRUE cost per KW is like 12.5-14.5 cents per KW depending on the variable supplier fee. I think you might need to take another look at that Divide the total dollars by your total KW usage for the month to get your real cost per KW. I think you will find that your break even point is much higher...

OK, here is where I made my MAJOR mistake. I assumed that our electricity "service and distribution fees" were fixed cost items and then the KWH's of electricity were added on top of that at only 6 cents per KWH. Boy was I wrong. As it turns out, the various service and distribution fees are keyed to the KWH's consumed by a multiplicative factor, so the various service and distribution fees are linearly variable (as opposed to fixed).

For me it appears that on average 2.06 x cost of KWH's consumed = Total Electricity Bill
Therefore: service and distribution fees alone = 1.06 x actual cost of KWH's consumed (at 6 cents per KWH in my case)

Adding it all together, my "effective" cost per KWH is therefore 12.36 cents, and this changes everything. Coal for me is suddenly very cost effective again. My break even point for anthracite cost equality to electricity is actually about \$494 per ton. My savings are in the neighborhood of \$1,200 per year.
lsayre

Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

### Re: What's the best way to calculate how much \$\$\$ coal saves?

"keyed to the KWH's consumed by a multiplicative factor, so the various service and distribution fees are linearly variable "
Last edited by Richard S. on Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.