Two years ago, we moved into our big house. It's almost 1900 sq ft and two stories. The den, where the fireplace is, is one of the coldest rooms because the heat goes straight upstairs via a lofted ceiling. This makes things cold downstairs. In our first year, I used the gas fireplace to heat the room without heating most of the rest of the house (the kitchen and front room are on a separate level). My husband speculated that our energy usage was high because of this. The second year, I kept the gas fireplace off and only used the house heater. At the end of it all I asked my husband if we were able to save any money. He stated it was a wash.
So, this year I rubbed my hands with glee at the thought of turning on the gas fireplace. However, I didn't know how to get the pilot light lit. I plugged everything in and fiddled with the nobs. I used the striker a lot and still it would not turn on. I read blog posts and how to manuals with no luck. I gave up in order to think about the problem.
At the beginning of this week I checked the fireplace remote. In my mind, it was something of a convenience rather than an essential part of getting the fireplace to work (sort of like the TV remote). The batteries were out and I knew it wouldn't control anything that way. Today, I plugged everything back in and set all the switches. Then, I made sure the remote had fresh batteries and was set to On. As soon as I tried the striker, the pilot light lit. Ah ha! The remote! It was important!
Lesson: make sure all components are there and turned on, no matter if you think they are important or not.