I am new to coal, this will be my first year so my answers are from reading, not experience. I did have a friend that burned coal years back so I've seen it does work.
My concerns are:
1. is using coal realy dirty; Bituminous, soft coal, is dirty, Anthracite, hard coal, what homes use, what we're talking when we talk burning coal...It depends on how careful you are. There is always some dust, but with care it can be fairly clean. I am getting a boiler with auger feed. My plan is to only handle coal one day each year. The ashes will be the only dust maker. A cover for the ash pan should get them out of the house without issue.
2. can it be stored outside; Yes. I do cover mine to keep animals out of it. If you will be using from an outside pile during the winter it can get wet and freeze into clumps. Best to cover it.
3. if its best inside, is there a way to keep the dust down; A fine mist of water keeps dust down. It doesn't even matter if it's damp when it burns.
4. How much coal would a home like mine need; a ton of coal ia about equal to 180 gallons of oil. How much oil do you (did you) use?
5. what is the going rate for coal. Today anywhere from $135 a ton to $365, depends on if it goes through a middle man or if you pick it up at the mine.
6. has the price for coal been cliaming as well reducing any benefits? Coal is going up Aug 1st by $20ish a ton. From all the numbers I've crunched it is THE cheapest way to heat, unless someone gave you a huge solar system. I'm in central Maine. I bought 24 ton and it was about $225 a ton delivered. That's a 5 year supply for me. Oil would have to drop to $1.07 to beat my price.
Do not look directly into the grin on my face!