This topic of wood heating sparks my interest. I am convinced that wood heating could be the best method available to us. The only problem is that we don't tend to apply the same principles of efficiency toward wood heat that we do toward more expensive sources of energy like gas, electricity, or oil. Although that seems to be on the change. And then there is the problem that you have to keep adding wood to your wood burner... But you know what, the solution to both of these problems was, at least in part, found hundreds of years ago. I suggest you all look into masonry wood ovens, particularly the south-germanic variation of the Kacheloffen. The principle here is that you have a masonry firebox which can withstand tremendous heat -as wood burns, it releases a bunch of volatile compounds as smoke -these include tars, methane, hydrogen, and CO. In a steel firebox, these will go up in smoke (quite literally!). However, in a masonry oven you can get the fire hot enough that these compounds will also ignite. This means your wood is burned much much more efficiently. The key is to have a fire over I believe it is 1400 degrees F. This heat would destroy the integrity of steel.
Then the oven is built in such a way that the fire's heat is absorbed and slowly released into the room. You can have 1 or 2 hot fires in a day, no need for a constant burn. The outside surface of such a stove is generally only warm to the touch, with temperatures not above 130 degrees. It is common in the south for benches to be built on the side of these and used for tables in the winter time. And last, the exhaust snakes around through a maze of masonry, where almost all of its heat is absorbed to be diffused into the house. The exhaust out of the chimney is only slightly warm, consisting mostly of condensed steam. These factors put together make these things tremendously efficient and incredibly safe. The only way one could start a house fire off of one of these is out of sheer stupidity (the firebox is completely enclosed and sealed)
I like to live a life where I know I can feed and shelter myself if I have to. I prefer to use methods that don't require this ridiculous infrastructure to use. I look at our country right now, and realize that this luxury we have been afforded can't last much longer. That's the number one reason why here lately I have spent all of my money acquiring a diverse collection of hand tools. My table saw hardly gets used any more.