This year has been insane for stoves shops just as it was back in 2005. Most shops report their next shipment is due in mid to late spring '09. What the HPBA is reminding everyone is to have their stoves professionally inspected and swept as needed. Even stoves sitting dormant can experience corrosion and other problems.
I'm always asked what is the best species of firewood. The answer is: "free!". You are doing a valuable service picking up storm damage or trees lying in forests where they would otherwise rot releasing the same CO2 back into the environment anyway. They key is to burn properly seasoned wood. You should use a simple pin type moisture meter and burn wood in the 12-20% m.c. range. Too green and you waste BTUs on drying the log, which leads to creosote formation, low heat output and increased fuel consumption. Too dry and your stove can backpuff or blow apart.
I use a pellet stove insert to supplement my heat. Due to my floor plan, it cannot evenly distribute the heat so I have to burn oil a few times a day. However, I replaced my old iron monster with a Buderus G-115 w/ Riello burner, Logamatic control with outdoor reset and an indirect tank. Have not been able to run out of potable hot water.
There are a lot of outdoor hydronic heaters on the market and some are quite refined. They do suffer from severe smoking driving the neighbors to get them outlawed as they have on Long Island and in NJ. There is a town just west of State College looking to do the same thing. The problem is, one resident tells the Township about his smokey neighbor then next thing you know, they are trying to ban ALL woodburning. They just did it in Calif. except for pellet stoves and EPA certified woodstoves above 4,000 ft. You will see air quality issues more and more with all these regional air quality districts. FYI Rich, you are in an EPA non-attainment zone for pm2.5 emmisions.
Burn small fires hot and clean!
Keep the fire in the fireplace.