PATIO HEATERS

Remember when you were a kid and you went to a bonfire night party and you stood by the huge fire?   Remember how your front was always roasting and your back was freeeeeeeeezing? 

Patio heaters are even less efficient than that.  

My googling tells me they cost anything from about £100 to £570.  They heat the open air.  The open air is a very big space.  It boldly goes all the way to Alpha Centauri and beyond.  And when you’ve heated a bit of that air, you have to buy another gas bottle to heat more air.  

And yes, I know that there’s an atmosphere between us and the great emptiness of outer space, I’m just trying to highlight the sheer futility of heating the outdoors. Especially as spring is finally here and the urge to sit outside gets stronger and stronger, and you suddenly become aware of all kinds of garden gubbins filling the shops: gazebos, swing seats and all that kind of mullarkey.

Of course patio heaters come in all shapes and types.  There are wall mounted, ceiling mounted and freestanding heaters.  There are tabletop heaters, and halogen bulb electric heaters.  There are fire pits, chimineas and every kind of stylish wood burning brazier which even I will admit I find attractive.  It’s a deeply primaeval need that impels us to huddle around a fire with a bunch of mates clutching a beer and a burnt sausage. 


Some years ago, I gave the Beloved a Chimenea for his birthday in desperation because I couldn’t think of anything else.  We put it together and lit it for the friends who’d gathered for a few bevvies, and have never used it since.  Piper didn’t want to pose and I now realise the decking needs a good scrub.  

However, it should be emphasised that whilst it is not a great idea to heat the outdoors at all in an overheating world, the ones that do the real damage are the ones with the gas bottles because they have special horrid qualities all their own. 

Time to give a big shout out to…

Surprising eco heroes? I don’t have permission to post this logo, but I don’t think they’ll mind me praising them.

In 2008, Curry’s actually stopped selling patio heaters because of ecological concerns.  (If you’re reading this anywhere else in the world, Curry’s is a huge electrical retailer in the UK with 295 superstores and 73 high street shops.)  This was a highly significant move on their part.  If only all those pubs and restaurants with outside heaters would follow suit.  

Curry’s decision came after a report the previous year by the EST (Energy Saving Trust) who found that the average patio heater emits around 50kg (110lb) of carbon dioxide per year.  So it doesn’t just heat the air, it emits that horrible CO2 that does so much damage to our lovely world.

Just in case you want to dismiss the EST as a bunch of spoilsport eco extremists, it’s actually an independent, impartial not-for-profit organization funded by the UK government and the private sector.   Its purpose is to advise on ways to save energy.   When the Chief Executive announced the findings of their research, he said, ‘Why don’t people just wear a jumper?’  Bless him.  A man after my own heart.

Even better – find someone else in a jumper and cuddle up.  Photo by Tom The Photographer on Unsplash

Clothing and fabrics have come a long way.  If you can afford a patio heater, you can afford a decent fleece or a duvet coat.  There are intelligent fabrics around these days that ensure that we don’t need to be cold ever again. Well, not in the normal way of things;  I’m assuming you aren’t living in Trondheim or half-way up a Himalaya.   Textile manufacturers have studied the business of keeping warm and there have been astonishing innovations in materials that will make sure you don’t freeze.  (And no, I’m not going to get into the subject of polyester, etc., right now.)  Fabrics can breathe, they can let sweat out and keep warmth in.  You can even get clever gloves that allow you to play with your iPhone without taking the gloves off.  Like your mum said, wrap up warm and you’ll be ok. 

Why would you want to heat the air?  Why in the name of sanity would you want to sit outside when it’s too cold to sit outside without a patio heater? Why, in an overheated, still overheating world, would you want to heat the air? 

What you’ll save

Let’s just go for the top of the range, shall we?  The Stainless Steel Goliath gas flame heater is £570.  You can get cheaper, but surely you want the best? For £570, you get just one of these babies – the stainless steel one which, for no fathomable reason, is more expensive than the black or white version.  Oh, and just remember, the gas will need replacing.  I don’t know about you, but replacing gas bottles becomes an awful faff after a bit. 

But, hey, it is a stylish piece of design and will heat your front, your sides AND your back, so long as you keep rotating.   

Here is the Goliath in all its glory.  Please do click on the link if you wish to purchase.  I won’t receive any payment.  Even I can see it’s a nice piece of kit, especially if you’ve decided that being out of doors on a cold evening is better than going inside and getting warm. 

Another idea…

Let’s just imagine what you could buy with £570 instead – and never have to struggle with changing the gas…

How about this marvel for starters?

I love the design of this The North Face – Summit L3 Down Hoodie – Down jacket but the name’s a bit of a mouthful

Normally this retails for £296.95 but at the time of publishing, this is going cheap for a mere £193.02 including VAT from Alpine Trek. Buy now to avoid disappointment!

Just in case you’re like me and always cold, why not add a fleece underlayer? This vibrant Arc’teryx garment is known as a Covert Cardigan. Yes, like a secret cardigan for rugged types, because as we all know, cardies can be a bit ageing. Not this splendid article though! This will set you back £140 at the Arc’teryx shop (ooh, doncha love that super-kool apostrophe!) in London where it is currently available in Kingfisher blue. Just click on the link to order it.

Arc’teryx get fabulous reviews on websites like switchbacktravel.com

You will have plenty left over to purchase these amazing electric gloves. So whether you’re guzzling frankfurters in a chilly back garden, hunting moose in Alaska, or simply suffering from arthritis, your hands never need be cold again! Worth every penny at £119.99 from Amazon.

Rechargeable batteries too!

Total spend so far – £453.01. And all of these items so much more portable than a patio heater!

You still have financial room to purchase a full set of thermals from Blacks, the excellent camping and leisure shops.  You’ll want two sets – one in the wash and one on the body – so that’ll set you back £30 (£15 each).

I’ve got a set of these – fan-bloody-tastic

To be honest, I’m finding it difficult to spend the full £570 – so far, the total spend is £483.01 so you’ve still got £86.99 left… How about 84 bars of delicious Kendal Mint Cake, a very popular choice amongst climbers for restoring energy in adverse weather?

You can order just 42 bars for £18 but I’ve taken advantage of the offer of free postage for orders over £20.

Now add this beautiful paisley scarf from John Henric of Sweden, a snip at £45 (currently reduced from £89 – don’t say I don’t find you bargains!)

Pity about the tie – it would be equally fab on a woman.

Trigger warning

Pictures of meat coming up. Both cooked and uncooked. I thought it best to mention.

So you are finally left with the princely sum of £5.99 which is just enough for two packs of Black Farmer Sausages which are my absolute favourites and which have the added bonus of being gluten free!

If you haven’t tried them, you haven’t lived. (With apologies to vegetarians and vegans who obvs have lived and do continue to live happily and healthily.)

Other things you can do

Does your local pub/café/restaurant have patio heaters?   Perhaps you might instigate a gentle and polite chat with the publican/owner/restaurateur and encourage them to either turn them off completely or at least use them a great deal less.  If it turns out that they have them on to keep smokers warm, perhaps you could point out that smokers might smoke a bit less if they think they’re going to freeze to death before lung disease carts them off to Paradise.  Thus, you will be contributing positively to the health of local smokers.  There you are, you see – two good deeds in one! 

What should I do with my old patio heater?

The gas cylinder can be taken back by the company you got it from.  The rest of the heater needs to be taken apart, and probably by someone who knows how to do it.  The stainless steel/cast iron/aluminium parts can be recycled as scrap, other components can’t be recycled and its ultimate destination is landfill, I’m sorry to say.  Yep, it’s yet another bloody potential pollutant.  So if you’ve got one, just leave it on the patio till someone invents a way of disposing of the whole thing. 

A final question…

Should we give up barbecuing?

Blimey, what a thought. 

Imagine the cultural impact on Australia and South Africa if barbies and braais were banned!!!  Whole nations would be in crisis!  I don’t want to be responsible for national trauma, thank you. 

Seriously, “I don’t know” is my straight answer, but my feeling is that barbies are probably less damaging given that we use our barbecues for a far shorter time than we use the patio heater.  Once the chicken legs or veggie brochettes are on the plate, the fire dies down or the gas is turned off… but then we stay out all evening under that bloody patio heater, emitting CO2 like lunatics…  it’s not really in the same league, is it?

And besides, the Beloved likes nothing better than transforming a humble chop into pure anthracite and wrapping his gob round it moments later.  There’s no way I’d be able to make him relinquish his role as The Great Blackener of Meat.  One has to accept one can only do so much.

Meals of pure charcoal are an inevitable part of my summer.  Particularly when it’s beginning to rain.  Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash

A word from Miss Pips

Here is a picture of Piper in the snow, wearing nothing but her Christmas Kerchief.  She doesn’t know why we don’t grow lovely thick coats like she’s got.

27 thoughts on “PATIO HEATERS

  1. Well said! Those patio heaters are toxic. I also bought a chimenea a few years ago and used it once. It smoked so badly that it set off smoke alarms ten metres away inside the house!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Definite Like. Patio heaters are ideal for those forced to smoke outside of pubs and restaurants and so they should be discouraged. Also like the care you’ve given to the pictures. In particular, that Arc’teryx aka the covert cardigan. I could actually see our Prime Minister in that.

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  3. So well said and succinct Dillie, what the hell has it come to when people feel the need to heat the outside – utter madness!

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  4. In total agreement about patio heaters, but I couldn’t disagree more about Down-filled jackets, there are wonderful ones filled with a synthetic mixture which are made without sacrificing any poor birds for their feathers.

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    • It’s a vexed question, isn’t it – I can’t quarrel with your reasoning except to say the synthetic ones end up in landfill and the fibres are found in the stomachs of seabirds etc… I don’t know how we square that circle, I’ll be honest. Thanks for your honest response – even when we disagree, we’re coming at our decisions with some thought and care.

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  5. Particularly interesting to me as we spend so much of our lives out of doors down here in Cornwall. We have a fire pit, made by a friend who is a steel worker, but the winds are a problem so you can’t count on it as a warming device. We lost a patio heater in the winds recently so rather than replace it, your article has made me look a little closer into our options.

    Job well done.

    L xxx

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    • Thanks so much. If enough people change their habits just a bit, I believe we can make a difference. I’ve been going on hunches with the subject matter, tbh, but when I research (which I do very deeply) I find my hunches are horribly borne out and the effect is worse than I thought.

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  6. Dear Dillie,

    Great appreciation for your take on these consumer bads. Keep it up!

    Please consider investigating the panopy of laundry soaps and fabric softeners. So much of this crap is formaldehyde based and actually bad for us and the environment. The issue of indoor air quality is vitally important. We seem to be transfixed with the notion that something which smells like ‘perfume’ is somehow fresh when precisely the opposite is true.

    Here in Canada the further north you travel the larger the air-freshener section of the grocery stores become. We need to change the air not the flavour or smell of the air. This does not mean that houses are too tightly constructed. Indeed, there is no such thing as a house that is too tight only houses that are under ventilated. Given your personal popularity and bully pulpit these are issues you can highlight with humour and reach many people of influence to change behaviour. Good on you for making the effort.

    Warm Regards, Oliver Drerup

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    • Thanks so much for your deeply considered comment. I’ve got all these subjects in preparation, but I want to vary the tone so that it isn’t all domestic stuff. Delighted you like it, anyhow. I was particularly struck by the sentence – We need to change the air, not the flavour or smell of the air – I wish I’d written that! Best wishes, Dillie

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  7. Fabulous blog ! Enjoyable, educational and shopping all in one .. what more is there in life? I will now go forward this to everyone I know here and down under (Australia.. not the other one!) 😉

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    • Thanks SO much! I sit in my office wondering whether I’m mad and whether I’m just talking to myself, so messages like this really cheer me up!

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  8. How many bottles of Pol Roger could you buy for £570? 19 or 20 perhaps. They’d keep you warm for a long time…….

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  9. Very glad that I am allowed to keep the dog grate and can continue to burn wood from the garden. Corned beef legs, a frozen bum and only go indoors when the frost starts to settle on you. So long as there’s fizz (glass bottle, also okay) that passes for a good evening round here.

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  10. Hi Dillie

    You are not alone, there’s a small (large?) army of us right here with you.

    I must, however, take issue with the “buy a fleece” option – manmade fibres washing into the oceans ending up back in our food. Buy a wool sweater!

    Otherwise, totally on board with the not-heating-outer-space.

    Kate x

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    • Ha! I get where you’re coming from – but it’s all so complicated… I had another comment from a reader gently objecting to the down jacket, on account of the down being from feathers… I suppose the point I was trying to make was not so much that you SHOULD spend all that money on a rather ridiculous array of warm outerwear of whatever make, but that you could spend the money a great deal more wisely – or not at all!

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  11. Hmmm, heating the atmosphere in order to warm up 20% of one’s own body surface area. Somewhere back in the depths of time, mankind discovered that fire was a more efficient means of staying warm when enclosed by something looking a bit like a house. One couldn’t even give the moniker “back to our caveman roots” to patio heaters, because even cavemen understood the importance of shelter!

    We should, of course, spare a thought for the originators of all this crap; product developers and marketing consultants who hoodwink us into believing we desperately need something that we don’t. Douglas Adams was on the right track with his Golgafrincham “B” Ark. Tell them that the planet is doomed(not so far from the truth), pack them all into a spaceship, crash it into another planet and get on with our lives!

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  12. Dear Dilly,

    Here is another example of attempting to space condition the exterior ambient air, sort of the reverse of the patio heater discussion.

    It might surprise some to learn that the American Air Force ‘Stealth” bombers stationed in South Dakota are kept outside in enormous depressions on the asphalt airfield in order to facilitate air conditioning of the exterior ambient air around them during scorching mid-western summers. In theory, the heavier cool air settles around the airplane. Cold air generated by stand alone air-conditioners keep the airplanes cool enough for optimum performance at high altitude. Allowing them to over heat could compromise operating systems.

    Speaking of shit we don’t need…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • How interesting. I remember doing an experiment when I was about ten which proved that cold water was heavier than hot water. The same would be true of air.

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  13. Mine’s got to go! Actually, I think we’ve spent more time trying to get the bloody thing to ignite rather than enjoying any heat it throws out before it shoots up to Alpha Centauri. More shit I don’t need. Loving your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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