info/advice on wood furnace as primary heat source?
We're thinking about buying a 1967 house in NH that comes with a 1967 hot water furnace. The oil usage for the past three years for the current owners was 1200 gal/yr. It's a 2700 sq ft cape, but even so that seems like a lot of oil to go through. Especially at $4/gal. Or at whatever the price of oil will be next year (my guess is more than $4/gal).
If we buy the house we would want to upgrade the furnace, among other energy saving modifications (insulating the basement and attic, mainly). A wood furnace seems appealing to me, although I don't know that much about them, and I'm hoping to get some advice on them.
I know many people who have wood as their primary heat and they like it. Of these people, one also has a 600 gallon water tank that gets heated up by the furnace and acts as a "buffer" for the heat that gets produced. I think this would be desirable, since wood fires to burn at maximum efficiency have to be going at a good clip- you can't cycle a wood fire on and off like you can with a gas or oil furnace, based on the temperature of the rooms and the thermostat setting.
I would want an oil or propane backup furnace so the house doesn't freeze up if we're not around to feed the furnace with wood. Possibly, we'd just get a wood furnace and keep the old oil furnace as the back up (of course that means we'd need a second chimney, but maybe it's worth it anyway).
I'm looking for peoples' experience with wood furnaces with and without the thermal storage tank.
One more piece of information that may or may not be important- there is a fireplace in the living room. We would want to convert that to a stove insert for supplemental heat. Not sure if that makes a difference for this discussion.
Thanks in advance.