The house: A 1907 Arts and Crafts home, American foursquare style. There are two main floors that are a total of 2100 square feet along with a finished attic and unfinished basement. The walls are not insulated (that was covered in a previous questions
). The house is currently heated with radiant heat by an old (about 50 years old) furnace in the basement. The gas bills in winter run between $300-$400, up from $25 in the summer.
Considering that we haven't found a happy insulation solution yet, we were hoping to take a little edge off by getting our fireplace up and running. However it turns out our fireplace with it's 8" flue was never meant to burn wood.
The chimney guy mentioned heating the whole house with a wood burning stove insert. My wife grew up in a large wood heated house and is excited about this idea, but I'm doubtful. Unlike her old house, ours doesn't have any air ducts forcing air or even vents between floors. My fear is that even a good, strong wood burner would heat the bottom floor but leave the second floor freezing and even if it did get upstairs we'd have to leave the doors open to let the air flow in.
So would a wood burner be doable? If so, would we need to add ventilation to the upstairs and if so how much? (My wife freaks out whenever I mention the possibility of doing certain things to the house, like ripping out the walls to put in insulation.) We have access to a good supply of wood and what chimney there is is well suited to holding a wood burning insert.
Feel free to challenge my assumptions as per usual I don't know what the hell I'm doing or what I'm talking about.