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Do Patio Heaters Use A Lot of Electricity? (3-minute Read) – Houshia

Do Patio Heaters Use A Lot of Electricity? (3-minute Read)

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Homeowners with a great outdoor space want to use it. Using an outdoor patio doesn’t need to be limited to spring and summer as long as you find ways to maintain comfort for your family and guests.

One of those ways to keep everyone warm on cooler days and colder nights is with a patio heater.

There are three choices for patio heaters: natural gas, propane gas, and electric.

The one you choose depends largely on the rates of gas versus electrical in your area of the country along with the availability of both.However, most agree the gas versions are more expensive to use than their electric counterparts.

In this article we’re going to look specifically at the cost of running an electric patio heater and how much you can expect to spend keeping your patio heater running…

Do Patio Heaters Use a Lot of Electricty?

The answer is largely dependent on how much you use it. Those that put their patio heater in constant use are going to see a larger electric bill.

You are going to pay more if it is always powered on and kept running even when no one is on the patio.

A good thing about electric patio heaters is they are designed to offer directional heat. That means that heat is not lost.

There is also no upfront cost for fuel like there is for gas heaters, which must be filled with a five-gallon propane tank that would likely need to be refilled after every event.

Electric patio heaters just plug into a standard outlet.

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Patio Heater Per Hour?

Running the numbers, one 4KWH electric patio heater would cost around .44 cents an hour to run.

However, one patio heater probably isn’t going to be enough to keep an outdoor space warm. That is particularly true for larger spaces and colder climates.

It would take three such patio heaters, using 40,000 BTU, to provide directed heat to a mid-size to larger space.

That would mean your electric company would be charging around $1.316 an hour for the heaters, depending on where you live and the electric company providing service.

The monthly cost of running the heaters for your outdoor space would then depend on how much you use them.

Those who like to entertain and plan on using their space multiple times a month would need to calculate expected energy costs based on the number of hours they plan to use the heaters. 

Do All Electric Patio Heaters Cost the Same to Run?

Similarities exist among all electric patio heaters. The main similarity is the heat they generate.

Patio heaters don’t heat the air but rather provide heat for those seated nearby. They radiate heat, which heats objects or people directly.

Each patio heater can use different amounts of electricity depending on the model, other features like remote and thermostat control, and size.

Another difference will be in the type of heat generated. Infrared and halogen light will save in energy costs.

Differences in sizes

Larger electric patio heaters producing more heat that are more commercial grade will be more expensive to run.

Some tall, portable freestanding models fall into this category. Generally, a patio heater will warm a 20-foot diameter space in an uncovered area  

The smaller tabletop versions are going to be cheaper to run because they produce less heat. Tabletop heaters will generate between 10,000 and 11,000 BTUs.

There are also wall-mounted models and fixed overhead models that are permanently placed and use a considerable amount of electricity.

Those are hard-wired into your electrical system, so they would run similarly to the heater for your home.

Other factors to consider

Several factors come into play when trying to choose a patio heater. You need to consider the space size versus the maximum output of the heater.

You may want an easily portable patio heater or one that has a modern design over vintage looks.

Some of the most important factors when looking at patio heaters are function and versatility.

You will want to ask yourself how will it fit with the design of your veranda, screen porch, patio, or deck? How easy is it to operate?

The ultimate question is will the patio heater you are looking at purchasing make your family and guests more comfortable?

How Do I Reduce My Patio Bill?

Outdoor electric heating infrared lamps under umbrella in street cafe in cold season (winter, autumn or spring)

Everyone wants to reduce their electric bill and there are ways to cut the energy costs for an outdoor space?

Some of the suggestions are quick, simple solutions that anyone can implement. Four easy ways to reduce the electric bill for your patio include:

  • Calculate how much heat you need, and manage it.
  • Buy a patio heater with a thermostat
  • Buy a patio heater with a timer.
  • Turn it off when not in use.

It will take some math to calculate how many patio heaters you need to keep your family warm as they enjoy your outdoor space.

The calculation is to take the cubic footage of your space and multiply it by the difference in the actual temperature and your desired temperature.

For instance, the difference would be 20 if the temperature is 50 degrees and you want it to be 70 degrees.

The final number you get in this multiplication formula is the number of BTUs needed to heat the entire space.

Then, you buy the number of patio heaters required based on their BTU output. One of the best things you can do to save money is to buy a patio heater with a thermostat.

You can control the exact temperature with a remote, which will not only save money but keep comfort levels regulated.

Patio heaters also come with timers and that can be enormously helpful in controlling energy costs. A timer ensures the heat is managed for the time you want to pay for it.

It also eliminates the possibility of it remaining on should a family member forget to turn it off.

One of the simplest solutions to saving on electrical bills for your patio is just to turn off your patio heaters when not using the outdoor space.

That way heat and electricity aren’t wasted and you aren’t spending money unnecessarily.

A valuable tip to saving money on electricity used by patio heaters is to wait until the last minute to turn them on.

They heat the space quickly, so you don’t need to run them ahead of time.

How Environmentally Friendly Are Patio Heaters?

The environmental-friendliness of an electric patio heater depends on the model of the patio heater you purchase and how often you run it in your outdoor space.

They do produce some carbon dioxide, but most people don’t run them enough to have a significant impact on the environment.

Heaters with a halogen or infrared light are 90 percent more efficient than other types.

They are also more environmentally friendly when compared to propane or natural gas. 

When comparing electric patio heaters, look at the wattage they use as well as BTUs produced. Also, look for an energy-efficient label.

Other cost factors

Buying a patio heater doesn’t need to be expensive because there are plenty on the market that are well under a reasonable cost.

The most expensive will be the wall-mounted or fixed-ceiling models.

However, there are some other maintenance issues you will need to take care of to prevent heaters from needing repair.

It is best to store portable heaters in a dry space when not in use rather than leave them out in the weather.

Those left out on a patio throughout the year should be covered. Clean your patio heater at the beginning of every season to keep it running efficiently so your power bills remain as low as possible.

Advantages of Electric Patio Heaters

Electric patio heaters have some advantages over other types of outdoor heating, such as fire pits or outdoor fireplaces.

Many find the advantages are well worth the extra cost on their electric bill.


Outdoor patio heaters are safer to use than fire pits and fireplaces. Safety reigns when there is no fire.

Patio heaters also have safety mechanisms built in, so they will stop running if they begin to malfunction.

Another positive safety factor is no ventilation is required for electric heaters, so they can be used both inside and outside.

This makes them a great choice for a barn or event space. 

No Mess

Patio heaters require little ongoing maintenance compared to other options like fireplaces or fire pits.

You do not have to clean up every time you use a patio heater like you would the other options.

No smoke

Electric patio heaters produce no smoke, so there will never be a gray residue to clean up.


Electric patio heaters will raise your electric bill some, but not as much as you would think considering all the warmth they provide.

They are a solid, practical addition to residential outdoor spaces.

They are well worth the investment for those who want to use their outdoor space throughout the year to create wonderful memories for their family and friends.

Alright guys, that’s it for this article, if you are interesting in reading more about patio heaters, we have lots of cool articles related such as:

Can Patio Heaters be Used on a Deck (Read This First!)

Can Patio Heaters be Used on a Screened-in Porch? (Quick Facts)

Steve Foster

Suburbanite, tech geek, handy man, automation enthusiast who started blogging about the stuff I do around my home and found he had a knack for it.

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