NOTE: Open faced fireplaces will suck all the heat out of a home so you want to get an insert with a gasketed door that locks ans you have an air control knob on it.
Give us a call at 508-336-2600 at the Fireplace Showcase in Seekonk, MA. Web Address: http://www.thefireplaceshowcase.com Someone will be able to walk you though some of the options available with wood-burning fireplace inserts for you home . It's always best to come into the store with some pictures and maybe even a rough diagram of the layout near where the insert will be installed. Also, the opening height, width and depth of the fireplace is key to sizing an insert so bring that along too. We always send someone out the the home before we install an insert to make sure everything is going to work.
I hope this helps to answer some of your questions.
Tell whom ever you speak to here that Ken recommended that you contact us.
Unless your home is very drafty and you want extra moisture, steer clear of ventless gas/propane.
If your home is airtight, consider a unit with its own source of makeup air.
However, I'd recommend buying the most efficient insert you can find. There's a list of EPA certified wood stoves. (Go to epa.gov and search) These will likely burn more efficiently and pollute less. Remember, burning anything - coal, wood, gas - leaves its mark on the planet. You'll want to keep your chimney clean, too, to avoid build up of creosote, and burn seasoned wood. Damp wood smokes more.
-Jodi Selene, LEED AP, Red Oak Realty, Berkeley CA
We had a pellet stove installed a few years ago and find it very efficient at heating our home and less mess than our former wood stove. Our oil use has gone WAY down too!
Royal Fireside in Mendon is a good resource to discuss the pros and cons of different stoves. They will take the time with you...
Ellen G. Friedman, Keller Williams Realty, firstname.lastname@example.org
Best of luck, Please consider using a licensed & bonded contractor for the work so you have some recourse if something should go wrong.