chimley wrote:What I would like is to establish ONE source of heat that I can rely on to heat my entire house. I have been considering a 60,000 BTU pellet insert for my fireplace. I am also considering a coal-hot air...such as leisure line Hyfire....but I don't want to go dumping cash into heat systems that may not work. Wondering what experiences any of you may have with heating a split level home.
You will most likely need to do some renovation and replacement if you really want to use ONE source of heat for the whole house. As your experiment told you, you cant heat the entire house with just an insert in the den; propane or pellet. Keeping the oil side of the house at 64 means that when you woke up, it was unsurprisingly at 64.
Either you install electric baseboard in all rooms or extend the ducting to all rooms from the hot air system. I'm personally a fan of hot water circulating in radiators and can't stand forced hot air nor do I like the running expense of electric heat.
A friend of mine has a split level home with a wood burning fireplace (with a strange air blower system, a quasi insert) in a den on the lowest level of the floor and an oil boiler with hot water radiators in every room. He keeps the fireplace going constantly all winter and tries to use oil as little as possible. The heat from the fireplace makes the den a little too warm for me but the heat undoubtedly drifts up the stairs and heats the living room and kitchen to a modest degree. He still uses oil to heat the rest of the house including bedrooms above the garage. He once ran out of oil and couldn't get any for a few days. He tried to use the fireplace as much as possible but the top level of the house was still cold and the bedrooms were almost unbearable.
Try to look at better insulation if you can which should be cheaper than overhauling a heating system and also running it constantly. My friend with the split got new garage doors with insulation in them and used spray foam and blow insulation to make the house warmer. The garage undoubtedly was the biggest source of coldness in the winter and having the bedrooms right above them didn't help. Seal some windows, get news ones if needed and try to shore up the house first before investing in new heating. it may make more of a difference than you think and you should burn less fuel.