Thus far, if I were to answer the OPs original question, I'd say yes. There are alternatives.
Were I to be asked if the alternatives are viable I'd say no, for all the reasons posted earlier in this topic.
Any alternative that relies on electrical power will require a supply back up. There are 1000s of homes in BG without power at this moment in time due to the recent snow falls. They've been without power for days. Factor that into the equation when considering alternatives, i.e. the back up system needed.
For a wood/multi fuel powered fire the only back up power needed is that required to run the central heating pump, typically 60 watts of power. A medium sized vehicle battery and UPS will keep a central heating pump going for many hours, ours, on test, ran for almost a full day of constant running (thermostat turned to lowest setting). We have 3 vehicles and therefore have the choice of 4 batteries (yes 4 cos we bought one specifically for the UPS).
We've just been to town and back, that's charged one of the batteries up should we need it.
Our house already had a central heating system when we bought it.
I said earlier in this topic, a friend has installed a ground source heat pump system with underfloor heating. It's a new build so he wasn't replacing/modifying something that was already there. His heat pump works a treat and keeps the house lovely and warm, score that one as a success.
However, he's installed two wood burners as well, with all the associated chimney work etc. that's needed. Why? In case of power failures. By the way, he also has a reasonably large capacity diesel generator too but it's too expensive to run to back up the house power for any period of time.
The energy savings trust say that cost effectiveness of air source heat pumps depends on what they're replacing. Mind you, they've gone to great lengths to remain non-committal as everything is 'could', 'may', 'can if'.
If you need a dependable, affordable back up to cater for power outages, then you ain't replacing anything, your adding to what's there.
They also say that "During the winter they may need to be on constantly to heat your home efficiently".
Taking Karen's situation and a 33KW fire. Using a 3:1 ratio ASHP, to maintain a constant 33KW output during winter (BG is normally much colder than GB during the longer winter), you'l use 11KW of power, constantly. That's worst case. The reality is probably, like ours, Karen's 33KW fire is kicking out an average of about 15KW constant heat. Again, using the 3:1 ratio at max efficiency for ASHPs, that's a 5KW constant demand on the electricity supply.
EON charge 0.089l/KWh - day and 0.03l/KWh. Crunch the numbers folks and for one day that works out to 8.3 l/day (ish), or 249 l/month (30 day month) solely for heating. That's at the lower figure of 5KW.
So far this winter (late Oct to date) we've used an absolute max of 4 cubic of wood at 50 lev/cube.
Dontcha just lurrrve numbers?