A guy I work with pays alot less for pellets, but he burns more, so we're about even.
I love the fact that everyone around here bought pellet stoves when the price of oil went thru the roof--it was so predictable: most people around here are well-heeled, and of course, will buy a stove that only requires you to turn a dial. None of them have a clue what "work" actually is -- they pay people to do that for them. So when everyone and their sister went out and bought pellet stoves, and then ran out of pellets, I sat back and laughed, WARM!!
I'm just a blue-collar guy who enjoys seeing the wealthy is misery, `cause it doesn't happen that often!!
As far as the ashes go, I just dump them down a hill in the woods. Got quite the pile now, 2 1/2 tons of coal later! I would estimate the pile of ash is about 1/3 the amount of coal I burned -- so if you look at what you have for coal, picture 1/3 of it being ash.