Can't decide what to put in the fireplace
Hello, I am new here. This past February we moved to New England and have a fireplace in our 1968 square foot house. Two weeks ago we got the pamphlet from our oil supplier and the cost of a season's oil is over $4000! So we are seriously considering adding an insert to our fireplace. I've read the thread on wood burning versus pellet but still have questions. We visited a retailer today who gave us a hard sell on pellet inserts. Maybe it is just me but I have an aversion to logs in the fireplace that are just "for show" and do not really burn. It all seems so fake -- BUT! I am willing to get over that pet peeve if a pellet stove is truly worth it.
Our fireplace is large enough but has the problem of having wood only 7" from the opening. The retailer said if we used a woodburning insert we'd need to have big [ugly] black iron deflectors placed around the insert to keep it from singeing (sp?) the surrounding pine mantel. We cannot have those things up because we aren't the most graceful folks in the world and I have no doubt we'd bash arms, legs, hips and whatnot into them. Plus our two-year-old kid could put an eye out on one of those corners. The hearth is flush with the floor and does not extend out very far, so a freestanding wood stove probably isn't an option (correct me if I'm wrong, of course!).
The retailer we visited was very hard-nosed about recommending Quadra-Fire inserts. They are OK but not all that attractive. I like Vermont Castings better, to be honest. Also the prices were high, like $3900 for the entire thing for the Quadra-Fire Castile Pellet Insert, installation and all.
My husband mentioned the integrity of the bottom-feeding pellet stove versus the top-feeder, he got a line of bull about how you can't trust what you read on the internet. To which I replied, "Oh really, gosh I own and administer three forums of my own" which I do, actually. He was sort of taken aback by that, hehehehe
Sorry for rambling.. anyway the bottom line question is: will having an insert in the house really save us that much money? And if so, should it be pellet or woodburning? Will we really need ugly deflectors? Are there any New Englanders who can give us a rough estimate of how many bags of pellets/cords of wood they use per season? It all seems like such a hassle and expense that we're waffling on whether it is worth it. Certainly we won't go back to the hardcases at that retail place, LOL!
Thanks for any help you can provide.