Living in a cold climate where there is snow on the ground for about five months of the year, heating is an important factor to be able to control. When I bought and moved into my house in the middle of January, the heating system that was installed was an oil furnace. It didn't take long to realize that with rising oil prices (at the time), I didn't want to keep paying large sums of money to fill up the tank a few times a year. So before the next winter came along, I had a wood stove put in. That was six years ago.
The cost involved is not insignificant when you factor in that I had to also purchase two stories worth of stainless steel stove pipe since I couldn't hook it into my existing chimney. A little more money and I could have replaced the furnace to a more efficient one that ran on natural gas, or added a heat pump. But I would still have been dependent on electricity to run those machines, and that would have defeated the whole point.
I went with the Osburne model that you see above (purchased at a discount because it was a floor model). It looks great with the glass door, but the most important part is that it is a fairly efficient model, rated at 75% optimum efficiency. It's important to get a wood stove with the highest possible rating. It's more expensive up front but it saves in the long run by not having to burn as much wood. It saves you work as well because you don't need to carry as many logs around either.
As it turns out, my power went out for fours this morning, and it was -4 degrees F (-20C) outside. (Power Outage) My wife hadn't had her morning tea yet so I put a pot of water on the stove (which was still hot from the night before) and with just a few minutes longer than it would have taken with a kettle, I had her tea ready and some oatmeal prepared.
Just a note, modern wood stoves are not designed to be used for cooking. For example, no matter how high I crank up my stove, I can barely get water to boil if I put a pot on the top of it. That's because there are various levels of metal to help radiate the heat more evenly. However in this model, I can remove that top section and get direct access to the fire box level, and then I have no problem to get water to boil. It's just one of those things that's hard to know ahead of time unless you experienced it.
It's nice, especially with two young children, knowing that I can keep them safe in the middle of winter regardless of how cold it gets outside. I usually buy about six (face) cords of wood at that lasts me all winter using the regular oil furnace pretty much only in the morning to reheat the house after the fire has died down overnight.
Although there lot's more that can be said about using wood to heat and to be able to cook with, this post wasn't meant to be a wood stove break down. It's a fairly simple piece of equipment although somewhat costly. But in my northern climate it is a necessary prep that needs to be had.