We bought this little fire place and did some tiling on the floor, Dave put some reproduction pressed tin on the back wall, added a safety guard, and we lit her up! This heats half of the house where we do pretty much all of our living and it takes the edge off the rest of the house. We did get this in the middle of a very cold winter for us so Dave has had to work hard at keeping up with the wood collecting and chopping but we figure that for next winter we will be all prepared and if it is something that you work on all year it will never be a massive job. To buy fire wood is really expensive so we have done this with the vision of not having to purchase any. We live in an area where people are often removing trees and limbs and so if you put the word out everyone is happy for you to take the wood off their hands if they don't need it. We have a few large and dangerous trees that need removing so that will give us a few years burning and with Dave working on building sites he makes sure that no timber goes to the dump for landfill. If we just keep our eyes out around here and take advantage of any opportunity for free firewood then we should be ok.
This winter has been a particularly long and cold one for us but we have been quite comfortable. We can also dampen the fire down so that it burns all night. This is a great feature and means that you have a warm house to wake up to and that in the morning you can easily crank it up again without having to start it from scratch. The fan that you can see will be replaced with one that we will mount on the wall above the fire to push the warm air further around the room. You can get fires with this fan as part of the system but ours didn't come with one.
Using a fire for all of your heat is a little work but it is something that I enjoy and there is just something extra nice about sitting around a wood burning fire on a cold evening isn't there? And...we recently got our first gas/electricity bill and it was $150 cheaper than the month before! We are saving $150-$200 every month that we would have used the ducted heating so this fire will pay itself off in a few years. I loved getting that bill and it had motivated us for adding as many self-sustainable features into our new extension that has started. We are looking into hydronic heating that will run off this wood fire, solar hot water, solar electricity panels, water tanks to supply the house and garden and double glazing. . . . but more on all of this later down the track!