pellet vs. wood vs. gas fireplace insert
I was just about to plunk down the bucks for a pellet burning fireplace insert when I panicked and realized I really hadn't researched this well enough. I'm hoping for some good guidance, here!
Here's the situation:
--Old drafty 3 story rowhome in Baltimore, with oil -fueled steam radiators. --I'm the only one in the house most of the time...and I'm there during the day only 3 days out of the week, plus all evenings and nights. I spend most of my time (when not sleeping or bathing) on the first floor, and prefer to sleep with it pretty cold.
-- Because the house is an interior row home, it doesn't seem to get REALLY cold (once when oil ran out one day, it never got below about 60 degrees, though the outside temp overnight was well below freezing.)
--There is an old masonry fireplace which is large enough (barely) for some but not all inserts. Enviro and Harman pellet inserts fit, for example. Still checking on some gas and wood ones.
--There is an old masonry chimney, with has been OK'd by installation folks for use to vent (with liner) an insert.
--Single middle aged lady who will buying whatever fuel is used...including firewood. Plenty of storage space in the basement, but I'll have to haul it upstairs.
What I'm looking for...not necessarily in this order:
--A source of heat for the first floor, when I'm there, so I don't need to needlessly heat two extra floors of space.
--The ambience and direct warmth of a fire.
--Not to do something incredibly stupid financially or something I'll regret in a year or two.
--A desire to be "green", but not so great a desire as to overwhelm common sense.
I'm told that:
-- Wood logs would have to be small to fit, and they might be hard to find, plus I've had a bad past experience with bringing some sort of wood eating insect into the house with firewood.
--Gas would clearly be easiest, but isn't green and the idea of using TWO fossil fuels seems ludicrous, even if the prices don't move in tandem. And considering the federal tax credit, it makes buying and installation of the gas insert as expensive or more expensive than a pellet stove.
--Pellet fires don't provide much ambience...even with the Harman log insert.
What to do, what to do?