How Much Does It Cost to Run a Patio Heater?

The winter weather or a cold summer night might give us an excuse to not spend our time on the beautiful patio. You will always want a warm and cozy environment to dine in and have a nice time with friends. This is why both commercial and domestic properties employ the use of outdoor patio heaters. They help provide a warm temperature when it is too cold. 

However, many people are put off by the operating costs of an outdoor patio heater. You will see hotel and pub owners trying to protect the business’s profit margin by switching off the heater units in times of need. Homeowners are also careful not to skyrocket the utility bill because of heating the patio.

The good side is that you can have a warm party on the patio and chill without suffering heavy bills. How much exactly will it cost to run my outdoor patio heater? Are outdoor patio heaters expensive to run? Let us find out then.

Running Costs for an Outdoor Patio Heater

It is tough to come up with the exact digit for the cost of running an outdoor patio heater. This depends on factors like the power of the heater unit and the electricity cost of your area. Also, if a homeowner leaves an outdoor patio heater running for long, the running costs increase. 

For instance, you are using the 40,000 BTU outdoor patio heater using natural gas, it will cost you around $0.5 per hour to run it. A 40,000 BTU propane patio heater will cost $1.70 per hour in running costs. Such values come as a result of the cost of fuels; natural gas and propane.

A 4,000-watt electric heater is the equivalent of a 40,000 BTU gas heater. To run such a heater, you will need around $1.4 per hour. The electric outdoor patio heaters have better efficient in that there is no heat loss because of being directional. Also, there are no upfront costs because of fuel.

How to Save Money When Using Outdoor Patio Heaters

Outdoor patio heaters have proved to be cheaper and better than the other heaters in the market today. However, there are ways you can save much more money and still enjoy the comfort of your patio. Here are some tips;

  • Turn off the outdoor patio heaters when not using them to avoid extra costs.
  • Try insulating your patio during the cold seasons to reduce the amount of heat escaping.
  • You should consider having a push-button for your heater so that it is conveniently turned off when not using it.
  • A thermostat is a great option to have. It helps adjust the temperature of the patio according to weather conditions at the time. It also prevents wasting unnecessary energy.
  • For a commercial building, you should consider installing motion sensors so that the heater unit is turned off when there is no one around.

Examples of Plug-in Heaters That Are Cheap to Run

The electricity is bill is calculated depending on how many units are used per hour. It is for this reason that the patio heaters industry came up with several electric heaters. This provides you with an option of choosing which best suits your budget. Here are some of the convenient heaters to run;

  1. Fan Models

These electric heaters have low operating costs but are not as effective. They emit heat in terms of air and if the patio is draft-proof, you will lose a lot of heat. So, you may be forced to keep turning them on for the hot air to evenly flow. 

On the other side, they are directional and easy to operate. Just make sure you are using it in an enclosed room or a covered patio to reduce heat loss. The approximate running cost is $0.17 per hour.

  1. Oil-Filled Heaters

The heater uses a radiator-style casing that is filled with oil. When plugged in, electricity causes the oil to expand, giving off heat that is felt on the heater’s surface. In this case, there will be low space heating compared to the fan models. 

Since this model depends on convection like the fan models, keep the room draft-proof. Otherwise, you will spend a fortune on your electricity bills. A fully functional oil-filled heater will cost you around $0.13 per hour in running costs.

  1. Halogen Heater

This is a typical outdoor patio heater that relies on radiation to keep the place warm. They heat you directly without warming the air thus reducing heat loss. For such heaters, it is okay to leave windows and doors open. It will cost you approximately $0.10 per hour to run it.

  1. Convector

A convector heater takes up cold air and heats it before releasing it. This is why a convector will not be a good idea when trying to heat an outdoor space. The approximate running cost of this heater is $0.18 per hour. 

Why Outdoor Patio Heaters and not Traditional Fire Pits

Fireplaces and fire pits are still relevant to some homeowners and restaurant places, but they are not the best. Yes, the fire adds ambiance but there are more negatives. The fire creates smoke which is annoying to have on your patio and may release harmful gases into the environment. 

Outdoor patio heaters have real and adjustable flames that also come in different designs. You will not have to worry about smoke and harmful gases on your patio. These two factors are the main propulsions of customers towards the outdoor patio heaters;

  1. No Mess Available

The fireplaces and firepits require high levels of maintenance and frequent cleaning. On the other hand, if you have an outdoor patio heater, you will not worry about ashes, wood, and other mess. 

  1. Contained Heater

Generally, the outdoor patio heaters are safer and easier to control. You will have fewer worries about your members getting hurt due to fire. You can also easily turn them off when done using them compared to the fire pits and fireplaces.


As seen from the above article, outdoor patio heaters are not too expensive to run as many had feared. However, you can always do better to save on the running costs. Just follow all the tips we have discussed above and enjoy a nice time on your patio. Also, remember to choose a patio heater that suits your needs to avoid additional costs.