Well, I think the heating gas prices are finally gotten to us. This past month was one of the warmest on record here, yet our gas bill was 2nd highest we've ever paid (2nd only to the previous month). So, we're considering getting either a wood-burning stove or a wood-burning furnace, but we're not sure which route to go.
Our house is 126 years old and 2200 square feet, but the previous owners completely redid it, so it's pretty well insulated and energy-efficient. On the first floor, the kitchen, dining room, foyer, and stairwell are all open to one another, but the living room is closed off except for a small doorway. On the second floor, the bedrooms all open to the staircase landing via small doorways. So, the air flow from the first floor up to the second floor is good, but not necessarily *into* the bedrooms.
Ok, first option--wood stove. The only place this can go is into the corner of the dining room, and the stove pipe would go out the exterior wall and then up. It would be cheaper, fairly easy to install, and easily accessible. However, it would take up floor space, be a bit of an eyesore, and be a hazard for children and pets. However, it wouldn't be as efficient as a wood furnace that sends heat through the central heating/AC vents.
Second option--wood furnace. This would go in the basement next to the gas furnace. I am worried about safety, but my dad insists that as long as the furance (and water heater) don't have gas leaks, which he says we would KNOW, there is no danger. Currently, I believe that our metal fireplace flue and metal furnace flue both vent to the roof out the same chimney. At least I think that's how it's set up....whatever the setup is, the fireplace inspector says it's safe/to code/whatever. Maybe there is room in this chimney for a third flue? Otherwise, my dad insists that it's safe to use the same flue as the gas furnace b/c we would turn the furnace thermostat so low that it would never turn on. But, if we are able to find some kind of safe set-up, the wood furnace wouldn't take up space in the living area, would be out of site, and would be more efficient than the wood stove. However, it would be more expensive and less accessible than a wood stove right in the dining room.
All right, anyone have any insight? My dad is pretty old-school and has an ancient cast-iron wood stove, and I kind of question his idea of "safe." For BOTH a stove and furnace, I am a bit paranoid about creasote build-up and chimney fires, so I'm leaning towards a unit with a catalytic converter. I should also mention that the cost of the wood isn't an issue as my family has 100 acres from which they harvest firewood.