I bought a little bit (coal) for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I did'nt get too much because I had never used it before. The place I go to charges $100/ton. I told the guy I just wanted a small load so I went up to the bin and loaded some in the truck by hand and weighed out with close to 200lbs. and they charged me $19.50. It smokes pretty good at first but then once its hot there is no smoke at all. I agree with you though, I feel like I can better control the heat when using coal.
Do you have the hot-water coil installed by any chance? If so how does it tie into the domestic water system. I thought about buying and using it for suppling hot water for a water to air exchanger in the attached garage.
BTW, can't beat those gas bills!