A campaign has been launched to ban outdoor patio heaters in the UK because of the environmental damage they are causing.

But are they really having a major effect on our carbon emissions – or is everyone just jumping aboard the latest green bandwagon?

According to Friends of the Earth, which is supporting an EU ban on the heaters,
patio heaters “waste energy and inflict unnecessary damage on the environment.”

Some major retailers such as B&Q have already said that when stocks run out they will no longer be selling the heaters which have taken off in a big way over the past two or three years.

It is thought that around 1.2 million domestic patio heaters are currently in use in the UK – although MTP (which provides data for the government) puts the figure at a more conservative 630,000.

Following the UK smoking ban last summer, pubs and restaurants all over the country invested in outdoor heaters and industry experts claim that if the heaters are banned, the sector could lose millions of pounds because fewer people will eat and drink there in cold weather.

So, how bad are patio heaters in terms of environmental damage? Do they actually emit more C02 than many household appliances currently in use based on the relatively small number of annual hours they are in use?

I decided a little investigation was called for – and, sure enough, the figures just don’t seem to stack up.

According to Calor Gas, a typical patio heater emits 35kg of C02 per year. The Energy Saving Trust puts it at 50kg per year – but either of these figures is a drop in the ocean compared with a whole host of household appliances.

Proponents of the ban say it makes no sense to try to heat the great outdoors – but what right have they to ban people from enjoying their garden on a cold night?

I don’t have a patio heater (not at the moment anyway) but from these figures, it looks like people will be causing less environmental damage sitting outside with a patio heater than those indoors.

There’s Joe Bloggs sipping a glass of wine and listening to the wind in the trees (with his patio heater emitting just 35kg of C02 PER YEAR) while millions more are sitting indoors in t-shirts with the heating turned up full blast watching their energy-guzzling plasma TVs.

In 2006, scientists warned that if half of British homes buy a plasma-screen TV, two nuclear power stations would be needed to meet the extra energy demand. But when did you last hear someone talk about banning plasma TVs … or washer/dryers or airline flights taken simply for pleasure? Maybe we should ban outdoor lights. What a waste of time trying to light the great outdoors at night 

And don’t forget, if the millions sitting indoors at night all turned down their heating thermostat by just half a degree, they’d each save 907kg of C02 per year.

What’s next? People reporting their neighbours for not hanging out their washing, meaning they are using an electric dryer which emits 635kg of C02 every year?

Compared with our other extravagances, patio heaters are among the least of our worries – and mountains and molehills definitely spring to mind.

We don’t need legislation against patio heaters – we need a well thought-out campaign to educate the public about their lifestyles as a whole and how they can save energy and reduce CO2.

If you have the time – it’s a long video – check out this guy’s calculations.

In a nutshell, he says that if one patio heater warms ten people (who would otherwise be at home using ten households full of electrical appliances) then a million heaters should prevent 10 million households from wasting energy.

Finally, since experts reckon that planting a native tree can save masses of CO2, why not just ask pubs to plant a tree outside. As well as offsetting the CO2 from their patio heater in winter, it will provide drinkers with some welcome shade during the summer.




  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: