I have spent hours now reading the forum here and have gathered a lot great information
But I still have questions
, here is some back ground first though...
First we live in Indiana near places like Coalmont, and Coalcity; and our white vehicles are usually black from coal mine debris on the roads, so coal is available. Our home is on a concrete slab about 2600sq ft and currently we heat with propane. The propane bill is eating us alive so to speak and we are looking at other methods to heat for next season. We had started looking at a OWB and have heard some people rave about theirs, however I am not real keen on spending my ever waking hour cutting, splitting, toting, stacking and feeding wood into an inefficient OWB. The layout of our home will not allow for much change in heating methods without major renovation unless we go with a an outside boiler set up. If we go with a coal boiler that could be placed in a shed, it would also allow us to possibly heat the garage/shop, and small green house and connected outbuilding. I have been a hobby blacksmith now for about 20 years and use a coal fire to heat my iron, so I have a little experience with coal and know it to be a fantastic fuel, but the coal I purchase for smithing isn't cheap as I need low trace mineral coal "smithy coal". The coal I buy is pre bagged stuff and is always expensive. I typically only buy every other year so I can buy in enough bulk to afford it. I would guess my experience in burning small amounts of coal at a time will lend itself to larger volumes as well.
So my questions
What companies should I go to for reputable and knowledgeable assistance in this quest? I don't need just a salesman looking for a quick buck from a greenhorn.
With the use of a shed facilities for the boiler room, any thoughts on keeping costs down in construction?
Would it be wise to dig a "basement" to sit the boiler into so we would not have to find a way to hike the coal?
How much fluctuation can one expect in coal prices? How volatile is the market?
What questions should I be asking? (ya don't know what ya don't know)
Any other advice that could be offered is more than appreciated.
Thank you for your time and knowledge