According the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 2 percent of U.S. households reported that they heated their homes with wood, solar energy or other fuels in 2000. Of course, anyone who has tried to live by the heat of a wood stove knows that there's more to it than lighting a fire.
The Wood Heat Organization, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people safely heat their homes with wood, recommends using stoves and installers certified under National Fireplace Institute training programs. The organization also recommends woodstoves as the cheapest and most efficient way to heat a home with wood.
As far as the type of wood goes, avoid any variety with the word "poison" in its name (this is probably a given), and make sure the wood is good and dry to keep the smoke down.
To ensure your family's safety, make sure that the stove itself is certified, the chimney is correct for the appliance and the roofline, and you've either gotten good advice on installation from someone reliable or had the system professionally installed. Also, don't forget to bury the ashes once they've cooled.