I have experienced coal heat, first as a child, then as a mother and wife, both many years ago. I can hear you; you're going "So?" So... I remember it as being stinky and dirty. Coal dust is black and fine, so imagine trying to clean it up day after day. Coal doesn't smell pleasant like wood smoke (at least to me) and it doesn't stack or give you crispy days in the sun with the zing and zap of a buzz saw or the exercise of carrying in an evening's supply one armload at a time.
So... you can see where my sentiments lie. However, I will give coal a few high fives. New coal stoves burn cleaner with much less mess and less fussing over the fuel itself so there's less coal dust to deal with. It's an inexpensive way to heat a home, either with a basement coal furnace or a coal burning stove.Coal heats very well! No wood fire can put out the amount of heat safely that a coal fire can and the heat lasts a very long time. You don't have to add coal to the stove nearly as often as you do wood. An entire night's worth of heat can be carried in one bucketful or one big chunk. Even in a conventional (I guess they call them old fashioned now) coal stove, it burns cleaner than wood so you don't see as much smoke (although you will see cinders on the ground if you look carefully). While you may have to shake the "clunkers" down through the grates, you won't have nearly as many ashes to remove than a wood fire leaves.
You will need a coal shed or some place to put it away from the lawn and gardens because it's toxic to the soil. Coal and wood sheds used to be built with an exterior half door high up (think top half of a wide door) so that the fuel could be unloaded from wagons or trucks easily. If you have loose coal delivery, you'll need something similar or a dedicated area where it can be dumped on the ground. Unlike wood, coal will burn even if you dig it out of a snowdrift because it doesn't absorb water. However, a tarp or cover will make it more convenient. Bagged coal can be stored in a garden shed or wherever you have room.
Because coal doesn't burn as easily as wood, you'll need a little wood anyway to start a small fire to get a coal fire going. Once you have a fire going, it's easy keep it that way because hot coals will last a long time, even covered with ash. Just expose them to air, add some coal and you'll soon have a healthy fire again.
Since the main concept of this site is to save you money, don't take my word for it, but take a peek at
Could a Coal Stove Save You Money?