I love heat pumps, but Laurel Fork may be too far north to get the best from them. My home in Manassas had heat pumps and it got too cold too often to best take advantage of that system. When it dips below 40 (which happened often in Manassas!), you're using some other form of backup heat (in my case electric) to warm the home, and that can get pricey.
The best, most efficient and cheapest means of heating a home is a geo-thermal system that draws heat in the winter and cold in the summer from the earth. You're only changing the temperature of the air a few degrees since the temperature 15 feet down is always 55 degrees. The only question is cost of installation, which is usually more than a regular system, but it pays for itself quickly.
The next best bet, in my opinion, is a wood pellet system that has auto-feed. You get a delivery of pellets once or twice a year and the system uses a vacuum to draw them into the furnace as needed. Pretty inexpensive relative to gas or oil.
Don't chince on the initial installation...you're going to pay one way or the other, so pay up front, get a good system that will cost less to run in the long-term.
And DON'T call an HVAC person...they're going to sell you what is best for them, not best for YOU. Do your homework up front, then go to the HVAC people to discuss installation of the system you have already selected.
Best of luck with your farmhouse...sounds charming!... more