Want to keep the heat from your conventional wood stove in the house instead of watching it go out the chimney? Try adding a heater hat. In the same way that a hat keeps you warm by holding the heat in your head, a heater hat captures the heat that would normally escape out your chimney, and stores it in a few hundred pounds of masonry. After I built mine (in a 10×22 cabin in western Oregon) the wood that used to over-heat me, briefly, in the morning, kept me comfortably warm all day, and into the next morning (depending on how long I fired it and how cold it was). And, unlike most iron stoves, it no longer generates that fierce, dry heat that you can only moderate by burning wet wood, or by damping the fire down to a messy, smoldering smoke generator (both of which cause dangerous creosote buildups in your chimney — a major fire hazard).
Masonry heaters, as well as adaptations like this one, burn clean, and generate little creosote. A few minutes after lighting it (depending on the size and dryness of the wood), I had no visible smoke coming out of the chimney. In my under-insulated cabin, I typically burnt a fire for about an hour and had heat all day (western Oregon is rarely sub-zero), and the “hat” held heat until the next morning. Even during the hottest fires, surface temps of the heater itself were much lower than hot iron (except for the tile, which got hotter) — very huggable! And (if I started the fire early) I could bake breakfast potatoes in it….
I made the videos; my stove-building friend Erica Wisner (see http://www.ernieanderica.info) made the wonderful plans. Let us know how it goes!