About a year ago, I moved into the bottom floor of a duplex apartment (basically a converted 1930s home). There's always been a big fireplace in the front bedroom, which is connected to the living room with large double-doors. Both rooms have about a 12 foot ceiling to them. Anyway, the fireplace was boarded up, and we asked the landlord about it. He had a company inspect the chimney ("OK"), and installed some glass doors and a screen for the front.
Previous to this, I've only used a freestanding wood stove. It had a blower, it had a compartment you could pour water into to help with the dry air, and it heated the house very well. But this... is a big empty column, leading up to the sky. There's no damper, no fans, no nothing! It seems as if any heat I generate in this fireplace is going to go straight up in the air.
The landlord doesn't seem to want to put any more money into it, which leads me to my big question -- what can I do to ensure we're getting the most out of this? If I have to spend to save, I'm not beyond that, as long as it's not too much, haha. The only two rooms we're really concerned about are the bedroom and living room. The whole house is currently heated by a natural gas furnace, and while it works well, I'm not particularly wanting $300/month gas bills again this year, especially when half the house is empty at night when it's coldest!
So... any advice here? Do I need to buy a blower? Should I use regular firewood, or some sort of sawdust-waste type things?