When comparing outdoor heating products it’s important to get the facts straight. “Energy efficiency” are the buzz words of the moment and there are many different products on the market promising big things in this department. The official government website gives some help but what does energy efficiency actually mean and how can it be accurately measured?
When it comes to efficiency in the outdoor heating market there is generally two important factors to consider. Firstly, the amount of energy a heater consumes and secondly, the way this relates to how much money it costs to run.
Energy consumption can usually be found in a product’s specifications and is measure of the amount of electricity it requires to run over a certain time. This rating is generally expressed in kilowatts per hour (kW/h), however heaters that use gas are commonly rated using megajoules per hour (MJ/h).
Obviously you have to pay for the energy you consume and a heaters cost to run is often a determining factor when buying a heater. Energy costs in Australia (and around the world) are rising, but local rates can differ, so it’s important to research your local energy costs when determining a product’s exact energy efficiency.
Let’s consider the following case study for example:
A venue with a large outdoor dining area owned 3 fixed heaters running natural gas at 50 MJ/h and 5 patio heaters running on LPG bottles. For the calculations, I’ve used the current natural gas rate in Australia of approx 1.6 cents per MJ. I’ve also figured on LPG bottles costing $30 each and lasting for 8 hours (or roughly a day).
Therefore, each fixed heater running for 8 hours a day would cost $45 per week and each patio heater would cost $210 per week to run. The total cost per week then was $1185 plus tax – which is very surprising when you add it all up.
The venue decided their heating situation needed to be refreshed and were advised that 3 new ceiling mounted heaters with a rating of 42 MJ/h could provide the same level of heat coverage that they currently had. The calculated running cost of these units’ results in an outlay of $37.50 per unit each week with the total cost being only $112.50 per week – over 90% less than what the venue was paying before!
With energy efficiency we all want to be doing the right thing and reducing the size of the energy footprint we make. But at the same time, any venue which doesn’t do their homework and look at the calculations may find itself losing both energy – and money.