So, my friend the vennmaster does this great thing called "nice, sweet, lame." I was inspired by this idea, but had more ideas than just 3 - so this is more of a continuum of awesomeness, starting at most awesome and working the way down from there...
AWESOME: wood burning fire.
It's nice and warm, it heats your house, it smells fabulous, and makes a great, soothing sound. There are downsides, however. Lugging in wood was always a really annoying task in the winter, but isn't nearly as annoying as cleaning up ashes
LESS AWESOME: Fire Pit
Granted, they are very very fun - the only light you see while you sit around it, usually drinking beer, roasting marshmallows, the smell of these fires is delicious and delightful. Plus there's none of that cleaning up ashes crap. The problems are all related to that you're outside. Bugs. Sitting on the ground. your back is freezing and your face is burning. Plus there's always the chance that you'll start a raging forest fire.
ACCEPTABLE: gas fire - not so fun to watch, or smell, but puts of heat in a direct fashion, and looks kind of like the real thing. Plus the switch on the side to "on" is much easier than lugging wood. Also the odds of the fire spreading are pretty slim. But look at it! It's just so - sterile!
STILL PRETTY NICE: Radiator. The kind you find in the old houses and apartments. I used to have one in an old apartment and it was so nice and toasty. If you're ever cold, you can just saddle up to it and rest your toes on it/ sit on it/ lean against it / leave your towel on it to get warm while you take a shower. I was really missing one of these today. No clean up, no mess, no risk of fire. Only problem is that you don't always have control of it.
OK: Space heater. One of those little guys that sits on the floor and makes lots of noise, puts out lots of heat, but is somehow never hot enough at the same time. Plus the heat it puts out is SO DRY it sucks the moisture out of the air all around it. Also i understand they have a fire risk as well. but what doesn't anymore.
PITIFUL: Heating Pad. If you have to resort to using a heating pad in your own house it's time to either put on more clothes, turn up your heat, add more insulation to your windows, or install one of these other systems of heating. The direct heat is really nice though.
LAME: Video of a fire. I can't believe they even make these. Granted there's no setup, no cleanup, no chance of fire spreading. But no smell, no real sound, and most importantly - NO HEAT. really what's the point? to be festive while you are doing other things i guess? I love how it's like "Over 2 hours!" Like you couldn't just start it over again.