I have a rather large decision in the horizon and I'm hoping for some advice from some folks who have been around the block a couple times. Three years ago I purchased two side by side solid brick home in Pittsburgh, PA. The houses have solid brick walls, inside and out, mostly 3 courses, and there is a 6 course wall between them. They are four stories off of street level in the front and only one above ground level in the back, because of the steepness of the hill half of the house is carved into bedroock, including hand dug bedrock floors on the first floor of each house. There are three stories of livable space, and are about 1000 sq ft per floor, leading to each house being just over 3000 sq ft. The houses are almost perfect copies of one another. The houses have never had proper heat, there is no ducting of any kind, and as far as I can tell there never has been. Eventually the majority of the wood in the houses will be replaced since the houses have been in disrepair for at least 20 years and most of the wood is beyond help. Right now I am in the beginning phases of rebuilding, and winter is coming fast.
I am trying to make an educated decision on what kind of heat would be appropriate for these places. I have read through the forum as deeply as the search will let me and haven't found anything particularly useful for my situation, but I'm eager for good information. As of right now there is no gas in one of the houses, so gas would not be a 100% solution, I'm open to the idea of not doing them identically though. I have an energy audit scheduled for next month, but other than that I just have a big brick shell with no insulation, and nothing really stopping me from doing anything. I have a massive woodburning stove in the basement of each house, it takes several large 22in logs when you really get it cranking, and it can heat the house comfortably if you are there to feed it, we've gone through about 3 cords of hardwood per house the last couple years, but sometimes it's nice to just be able to flip a switch. I'm pretty handy, and I'm open to any ideas, but especially less obvious ones (geothermal, passive solar, etc.).
I will try to check on the thread here daily, I really appreciate any and all input.
Thanks in advance,