Many homes in the UK have a functioning open fire, that not only acts as a way to heat the home, but also makes a great central feature.
Traditionally both coal and firewood are used on an open fire, but there are many reasons why only firewood should be used.
Coal is a fossil fuel, meaning it is a limited resource and releases carbon dioxide when it is burned. Although wood also releases carbon dioxide, it is only releasing the carbon dioxide which the tree originally took from the environment, so it is not adding to the overall circulating levels. Burning coal releases carbon dioxide that was previously stored safely underground, which is why coal damages the environment so much more than wood.
Wood is a sustainable resource. Trees that are harvested for firewood are replaced and well managed woodlands not only provide a sustainable source of fuel, but also help to control the overall levels of carbon dioxide in the environment and help provide a home for a diverse number of native flora and fauna. Coal is a very limited resource, which can not be replaced.
It is possible and advisable to use locally sourced firewood. This way you know that it is ethically sourced and you are helping the local economy. This is not something that is possible with coal. Although there are a scattering of coal mines left open in the UK, more often than not coal is being imported from South Africa, China and Vietnam. There is no way of telling whether or not any coal you are buying has been mined ethically with well paid and safe workers.
If you buy good quality firewood that has been well seasoned from a reputable local supplier then you will be able to enjoy a roaring open fire that heats the room and does minimal environmental damage.