back to article EU to ban the patio heaters that ate the planet. Not.

An overwhelming majority of EU MPs this week voted for a ban on patio heaters, calling on the European Commission to set a timetable for the withdrawal from the market of these and other "very energy-inefficient items of equipment." But despite what you might read in the popular prints, there are just a few obstacles standing in …

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Paris Hilton

Typical MP's

They busy setting stupid policys instead of cutting their own carbon emission? I see new government buildings going up all the time and old buildings being destroyed, because they are old)

All this on top of out of date street lamps, roads are full of traffic caused by electric traffic lights and poor design of traffic systems, when will they start practising what they are preaching!

Paris: cause she aint that stupid!

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Coat

The patois...

of hysteria. Typical, knee-jerk reaction from the biggest collection of jerks on the planet. If we could harness the pure hot air being generated by MEP's, I believe we could heat half of Europe for free.

It'd be (vaguely) interesting to know just what proportion of these numpties have said offending article(s) themselves!

I'll fetch my nice, warm, baby seal fur lined coat for the patio.

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Stats

Your dubiously useful stats at the end there are all well and good, but they are not very relevant. I realise they are to make a point, but the problem with patio heaters isn't that they are particularly energy inefficient (as the article points out, whether something is efficient depends on what it's purpose is), nor that they are particularly big carbon generators in the grand scale of things. It's that they are just so wasteful and pointless.

Sure, they are probably okay at heating patios, and that is their purpose, but the question we need to ask is should we be heating patios in the first place? I can't believe I am approving of a nanny state banning of an activity like this, but really, people are just bloody idiots for doing it. So they only account for ~0.1% of the UK's carbon output? So what, that's only because there are a limited number of idiots in the UK.

Cars get people from A to B, patio heaters blow hot air into space, so cars are worth the carbon output.

And besides, cars go faster than patio heaters

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Dead Vulture

Missing the point

Wow, what a bitter article!

Patio heaters *are* inefficient - because almost all of the heat they generate is wasted. A tiny fraction is used if there happens to be someone sitting near one. Comparing them to jumpers and electric lights is a bit silly - the former keeps you warm with no energy output, and the latter are increasingly designed to do their job with as little waste as possible.

The quantity of CO2 emissions may be comparatively small, but it's all about little steps - no one decision will eliminate pollution, it's more that we need to reduce our energy use overall. And yes, that includes motor vehicles too, as you quite rightly point out, they are a major contributor.

I wonder if infra-red radiation heaters may be better outside pubs than gas patio heaters; they are used in zoos to keep animals warm. They are more efficient (as I understand) because they only heat the surface of what is below them, not the air.

Or you could realise you live in the northern hemisphere (to be really picky; the north of the northern hemisphere, I'm sure the south of it is perfectly warm) and sit indoors. Our ancestors invented houses for a good reason!

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Happy

Join up the ends!

Why are these patio heaters used? To provide some shelter for people as a result of the smoking ban, as a utility for dog owners, who's pets are banned form the bar, as a facility to allow children to accompany their parents to a pub.

Perhaps MEPs and MPs need a lesson in cause and effect.

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I'm searching for a point here, but I can't find it

right, so its okay to heat a patio, as long as you can find a more inefficent way of doing it, but its not okay to warm your house, no matter how efficient, if you can put more clothes on.

If your cold, go inside people. Its not that hard.

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EU Fiddles While Rome Burns?

Or was it Robbie Burns?

Truth is, of course, that the Crusade Against Patio Heaters has nothing whatsoever to do with saving the planet - it's all about spiting smokers who dare to keep warm after being expelled from public buildings.

So long as toilet rolls are made from bleached virgin paper, bottles are recycled rather than being reused, and frequent fliers are taxed less than rail travellers, then 'saving the planet' is a talking shop, not a call to action.

And patio heaters should be round about 1,538 on any intelligent list of priorities.

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Patio heaters

If they hadn't banned smoking in pubs/restaurants etc and instead had legislated for separate, well ventilated areas for smokers then there wouldn't all be this stuff about banning patio heaters.

On the other hand, I've never before in my life seen so many places now putting a few tables and chairs or benches outside eating and drinking establishments. It used to be virtually impossible to enjoy café culture in boring old England, now every tin pot greasy spoon down our (low end) High Street has facilities, and the upmarket ones have heaters too.

P.

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Flame

If it really was all about efficiency

We would be forced to just ban the EU.

Get rid of all these MEPs and the EU carbon footprint would drop by a massive percentage.

So we are banning them next?

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Flame

Heating patios with no-one on them... smokers outsdie...

Considering most people drag their patio heater out only a dozen or so occasions throughout the year - I really think the notion that we are destroying our planet with these is rather silly....

I wonder how much gas is burned off on rigs / gas extraction - in comparison to that being used to keep me and my guests warm on a summer evening...?

Anyway - its pubs using 3 or 4 gas heaters outside their pub for smokers that annoys me. Not that I think smokers should be cold - but that the heaters seem to be on all night - regardless of whether or not any smokers are sat under them... surely this increases the cost of my pint? - let alone the damage that its causing....

Q.

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Flame

Yet another....

Yet another political white elephant.

We have over 650 "leaders" in Whitehall and the Commons, who seem to spend thier entire time thinking up little policies designed to make it look like they're ACTAULLY useful. Unfortunatly these normally involve banning things, and I've said, ban enough minority persuits and you'll end up with an angry majority.

I've never liked the current method of proportional representation. Oh I love the idea of a democracy, and a system that wouldn't allow for a dictatorship to form is of course needed. But do we really need to pay 650+ people a good full time salary for them to find even stranger ways to spend our money? Too many cooks anybody?

It's not like a MP REALLY represents the views of their constituency during the day to day dealings with the commons, when it boils down to it, its all about personality, and only a certain kind of person becomes an MP.

My point is, we've already got a load of overpaid politicians making stupid decisions, spending lots and lots of OUR money on daft idea's that the public never really hear about, all to justify their existance and move one step up on the ladder. We really do not need ANOTHER group of people even LESS in touch with the British public making decisions with the idea of personal career acceleration in mind, rather than making laws which will benefit the people, which in many cases means sitting the fuck still and doing NOTHING.

The EU and their stupid little laws can piss off, we've get plenty of idiots this side of the water doing things we don't want. I don't want the Euro. I don't want ID cards. I want to smoke (even if it's in the street). I want to stay out late drinking. I want a patio heater. I'm a fucking adult, treat me like one.

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Fools

I haven't understood this Daily Mail-esque campaign to ban patio heaters since it was first mooted. Never mind the wrong end of the wrong stick the MEPs have grasped as pointed out in the article, but what's to stop me - in light of not being able to purchase said patio heater - from just lighting a bonfire in my garden? I would imagine the pollution from a smokey fire would be worse than a gas heater and it wouldn't be nearly as efficient as I wouldn't be able to direct the heat to a specific area unless I built some kind of reflective hood to go over it.

These people need to start worrying about the real problems in this world - crime, wars, bigotry, poverty etc, not people who want to have a drink and a fag in their back garden on a chilly winter evening.

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Paris Hilton

Another reason for getting rid of patio heaters

Apparently small bitey insects are drawn to the Co2 that these things give off .

Getting rid of patio heaters may relieve us of mozzie bites while trying to eat a burger at a barbie.

(Paris as there's enough hot air about her already)

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Unhappy

Thin end of the wedge indeed

Well, we would go back inside, but it seems that a little legislative blip means that we can't do what ~ 30% of people want to do inside.

I mea it's not like we didn't have a full round of opinion polls and a referendum before this was imposed right...?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Missing the point

You're missing points here yourself. The intent of the Commission exercise, as I noted in my apparently bitter report, is to achieve energy savings by encouraging the use of more efficient appliances, and it is doing so via an 'action plan' that targets specific areas where significant gains can be readily achieved. This seems to me to be a relatively sane approach in that it's a matter of making stuff work better and doing stuff that will make a difference.

When it comes to patio heaters, the MEPs' report has two problems. First, they are making a moral judgement about the use of external heaters. Certainly heat from them not used to warm bodies could be termed 'wasted', but extra heat consumed indoors because you decline to wear two jumpers could also be termed wasted. There's a sliding scale from thoughtless or careless to wicked, if you want to get moral about it, and when legislators get into this territory they have to decide where they start and where they end when it comes to forbidding things.

That cuts against the Commission approach, and introduces counter-productive arguments. You won't get too many people arguing against just trying to make stuff work better, but you'll get big rows when you start to tell them what they ought or ought not to do, what is and is not 'bad'.

The second problem is that the impact of these devices is negligible. And personally I don't much hold with the 'every little helps' approach. Time spent worrying away at little things that aren't going to make a lot of difference could far more usefully be spent on things that will make a more substantial difference. They're a waste of energy, right? So what's the carbon footprint of that?

BTW, for the contributor who mentioned flaring in the energy industry, the DEFRA figure for this in 2006 was 3.8 million tonnes, 0.7 per cent of total emissions.

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Heating?

I use mine as a barbecue, it's wood/charcoal burning and very good it is too, it's one of those big clay things that looks like a bottle kiln and stays warm for hours even after you've finished the barbeque. Mind you, we get so few warm sunny evenings nowadays I never get chance to use it.

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Flame

The key is in the objectives

"improvements in insulation, energy use management and the efficiency of energy-using devices".

Whilst the heaters themselves may be comparatively energy efficient the key issue is that they are trying to heat the entire atmosphere. I am sure that big oil loves this idea, cut out the middle man (cars) and just heat the planet up directly, using more of their product.

If you consider the other two parts, insulation and energy use management the patio heater, as hinted by the name, is not going to score too well. I don't need a job at the Building Research Institute to work out that a patio is not very well insulated and therefore the management of energy use in heating it is poor. Of course, what we really need is some sort of insulating structure to contain the heat from these heaters, that the smokers could sit or stand in.

Unfortunately our shiny new laws that prevent you smoking in an area where people are employed to work prevent this, whilst failing to address the real issues in an enclosed space of people farting (thus the icon) and eating garlic. Perhaps what the pubs need is a portakabin with a Roomba to keep it clean instead, until the EU vote on robot rights anyway....

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Re: Missing the point

Patio heaters actually operate mostly based on IR and the efficiency of the good ones is much higher than one would expect. None of them heats "the air over patio". They cannot because the hot air will be carried away by convection in a matter of seconds. They heat objects the reflector points at.

And reading the comments - it is quite obvious that the science education in British schools has hit rock bottom. The readers of a renowned IT rag being as scientifically ignorant as the bunch of morons in Brussels... No wonder "green" IT policy in the UK is such a load of bull...

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Silver badge

Turn out the lights!

Back in the olden days when I was a lad, street lights were turned off somewhere around midnight. Nowadays they are never turned off even in the tiny urbanisations on a small island like Ibiza where I now live. Even if the reason for this is security against mugging or burglars etc, surely it is possible to reduce the level of light used after a certain time?

I have flown over a fair number of different parts of the world at night and noticed that almost the entire planet is lit at night, does anyone know how much this costs and what the carbon footprint for all night lighting adds up to?

Perhaps it would be better if we turned off all the streetlights at night and bought ourselves LED torches and a magnum revolver, much more eco-friendly with the added benifit of reducing the worlds crim' population!

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RE: Turn out the lights!

Completely off the subject, but good point! To get around the the problems of muggings or burglaries, why not (retro)fit motion sensors on them, so between the hours of midnight and 5am, they are motion-sensitive?

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Carbon footprint of an MEP?

Seriously - if you factor in the typical day-to-day routine, add in travel, and then assign a share of the utilities, food deliveries, etc. of the buildings to the MEP, where do they rate compared the average citizen from their home country?

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Let's improve the MEP heating arrangements

My suggestion is to heat the patio with the far more energy efficient microwave-oven-with-the interlocks-removed. I've done some tests that suggest that a single 1.2kW magnetron from a microwave oven (mounted of course at a safe distance) can heat an entire patio at a duty ratio of 15% ... a few simple modifications and you can even control the output via a web-enabled phone.

I'd be happy to demonstrate this to the MEP's by fitting the entire chamber with a (suitably scaled) 275kW magnetron (cheaply and easily available from many Eastern European Army and Navy stores) ... we could set up a simple web access and allow the general public to adjust the output ... now that's democracy in action.

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Re: Turn out the lights!

Your post reminded my of an excellent phenomenon here in Glasgow. Here we have a whole street of street lights, just south of the river, that are controlled by light sensors. Unfortunately it's set up in such a way that when the lights are on, it's light enough that they switch off. When they're off, it's dark enough that they come on again. For several hours a night, maybe all night as far as I know, these lights cycle on and off about once every five or ten seconds.

Awesome. Just, awesome. It's been like that for months.

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Why? Why? Why?

I wasn't going to get dragged into commenting, but due to the immensely annoying comments here, which are thought about as much as 'oh it's a green issue, I'll comment because I recycle my organic water bottles'.

Well done Anton Ivanov, finally something intelligent to say.

They push smokers outside for clean air, now they want the smokers to be cold. When urban 4x4's are banned maybe they can come and talk to me about a poxy patio heater.

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Jesuitical?

Jesuitical? What? Someone gone mad with the synonym button?

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Anonymous Coward

Why buy an inefficient fridge?

I don't see the problem with this, we shouldn't be selling C rated fridges in this day and age, or C rated washing machines, or C rated patio heaters for that matter.

(An efficient patio heater converts energy to infra red which travels in a straight line and warms people up, with minimum convected hot air which just goes straight up and is wasted.)

It's in your interests that things you buy use the minimum of energy to do the job. For some reason this story was being hijacked into 'wacky MEPs ban patio heaters'. But that looks like someone with an agenda did that. There's nothing particularly bad or unusual in MEPs voting to ban inefficient kit.

Remember when they first brought out energy marks, fridges were C or D or even E rated. Now they're A, A+, A++ rated. That energy mark probably saves you 100-200 quid a year in electricity costs.

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Coat

Ban 'em

Hmm.. put on a jumper or put on a outside heater..put on a jumper or put on a heater..put on a jumper or put on a outside heater..put on a jumper or put on a heater..put on a jumper or put on a outside heater..put on a jumper or put on a heater.. urrghhh! I can't make the decision..... regulate it!

Seriously though, we don't need 'em anyway (jumpers I mean)....

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Re: Why? Why? Why?

I figured a great way to cut out urban 4x4s: make the full cost of any accident involving a 4x4 in a city be met by the insurers of the 4x4 (unless two 4x4s are involved, in which case normal rules apply). Insurance costs instantly go to the point where only the stupidly rich can afford the damn things, and even they probably can't drive anywhere with all the crooks driving cars into the side of them for the insurance.

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WTF

has it got to do with a bunch of idiotic bureaucrats what I choose to use to keep myself (or my customers) warm.

Their f&*$ked up rules and regulations and butting into everyones business is what has made people use these things anyway.

Let us get on with our lives and stop interfering into mine - bunch of useless tossers.

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Boffin

To Chris G:

I *luuuuurve* that you're concerned about the environment, and that this concern came about having "flown over a fair number of different parts of the world". Brilliant!

Also, a huge project to arm everyone would reduce the criminal and non-criminal population alike.

In a legalistic sense, you can't define whether patio heaters are efficient or not (except comparing between different types). But to me they scream an arrogance wastefulness that means I wouldn't mourn their passing...

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Reality

It's a pity that European MPs aren't made to take a test on "reality" after being elected to office. They seem to be a bunch of mostly uneducated dolts who will gladly jump on the first bandwagon that comes along their way. All without doing the basic research that a journalist like Lettice can do.

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Flame

What *is* a patio heater?

So, how exactly do they plan to define patio heaters, compared to,say, indoor space heaters (that one could take outside)? This is a bit like the plan to ban incandescent lightbulbs. How are they going to stop me filling my house with 60W radiant heaters purchased on the web from, say, Poland?

At the end of the day it's just another civil-service plan whose sole object is to create work for civil servants, and so justify hiring even more timewasting jobsworths at our expense. The (dis)United States of Europe, run by unelected bureaucrats. Even Sir Humphrey would be impressed. I'm not.

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No, EU good

People have to be encouraged to give up their unnecessary and wasteful habits because I'm sorry to say Joe Public is not going to do it voluntarily. If the carrot isn't working then its time for the stick. I think any action, no matter how small, that will improve the energy-wasteful culture we in the UK and Europe seem to live in then good for the EU. I don't think the majority of people give two hoots about patio-heaters, or whether they are banned or not. If smokers have to get a bit chilly standing outside then maybe it's time to quit?

To be perfectly honest I think El Reg has picked up on one small part of an important piece of legislation and decided to target it for a vitriolic rant in a moment of uncharacteristic nationalism.

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Pirate

Stuff 'em

I've had to put up with breathing other people's smoke and going home stinking of their foul habit when I've fancied a pint or a night out for years. The extra washing this has resulted in due to my clothes being unwearable the next day has likely increased the electricity use in my house and the detergents being ejected into the water.

Stuff 'em. They've affected my life for the worse for around 18 years. Let the bastards suffer in the cold for a ciggie. If it bothers them, then bloody give up. It's a stupid habit anyway.

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Re: To Chris G:

“Also, a huge project to arm everyone would reduce the criminal and non-criminal population alike.”

Well, that's one way to reduce our carbon footprint…

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Stop

Pedant

The article states :

"They're not exactly complicated constructions, and they do pretty much what it says on the tin - they heat patios, pretty effectively. You could certainly argue that it's profligate and wasteful to be heating patios on a cold February night when we should all be snug in our heavily-insulated eco-friendly homes, but it's surely unreasonable to claim they're "energy-inefficient" - if heating patios is what you want to do, they're a pretty damned efficient way to do it."

1. They don't heat patios - they aim to heat the people standing or sitting on patios

2. They are particularly inefficient at heating the patios - at best they increase the temperature by a degree or so and if you measured the increase in temperature of the patio slab in comparison to the energy use (Q=mct) then you would find they are very poor. Even if you tried to measure the temperature increase of the real objective - i.e. heating the people there, you'd find there were inefficient

Now, the main point is should they be banned ? I say no, increase the tax on the fuel (patio heater gas) to the same level as that in cars first - if you can still legally drive an inefficient Porsche Cayenne Turbo then you should be able to waste money heating up the atmosphere. Or, better still, ban both and (as someone else has pointed out) all appliances rated C efficiency or below.

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@Ian Purdie

Allowing separate, ventilated smoking rooms would have solved all of your problems- but of course this would not have satisfied your desire for spiteful retribution against all those smokers, having the sheer audacity to make a choice different to yours, all whilst paying (collectively) many billions of pounds in tax.

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Alert

You've got to start here

It's not about how small the CO emissions of patio heaters are, it's about changing our attitudes. If we think it's ok to burn fossil fuels outside, then there's no hope when it comes down to making the more signinifcant changes necessary.

I do regret the further tormenting of smokers, but we really have got to ban these things. Free extra jumper for smokers?

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Get a Jumper

Patio Heaters only ever burn the top of your

head while you get cold feet anyhow.

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Stop

Re: Pedant

"...if you can still legally drive an inefficient Porsche Cayenne Turbo then you should be able to waste money heating up the atmosphere. Or, better still, ban both..."

Inefficient compared to what exactly??

And I don't really understand what you're saying, but I gather you want us to just ban everything that brings pleasure to our lives? Brilliant!

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Heart

Why not

vented patios - heat rises after all. Outside a pub you could use a heated vent system that would make the air rise and also take smoke with it.. maybe using hot air from dryer exhausts or MEP's buried below it.

One could also fuel it with bigots or other people who believe that the UK reducing their carbon footprint to zero will make any difference to the overall figure.

I'm glad I live in a small hamlet where nobody is kicked outside a pub for anything, let alone smoking (ventilated btw) and god forbid an MEP should come in and make a fuss, they'd end up in a pig feeder the next day.

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Pirate

@ Reality

Actually, shouldn't they take the test before they are allowed to stand for election?

Natural selection would then cut down the number of planks who would be eligable to stand for election. Come to think of it, that would be a good thing to enforce in this country (UK) too.

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Coat

Strasbourg

I'm surprised no-one has yet mentioned the huge waste of time, energy and money created by the MEPs and all their hangers-on regularly decamping to Strasbourg to hold parliamentary sessions there. I am sure that having the Parliament always sit in Brussels would do more for the planet - and our wallets - than banning patio heaters.

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Flame

It's about smoking. Period.

Living in the former colony of the United States, I've personally been assaulted by the anti-smoking Nazis complaining about my "polluting" their air at 30 meters. Over here, some municipalities are banning smoking on patios, sidewalks, parking lots, in autos - anywhere that one single sensitive child might be exposed to instant death from tobacco. Forcing people outside to smoke - with no possible option for voluntary membership in a smoking-only club or area - was supposed to be an inconvenience to stop smoking.

Patio heaters have suddenly become a "hot" item here, as most pubs with a patio have added them for the comfort of their smoking patrons. Now the same people that banned all forms of indoor smoking are banning outdoor heating under the guise of "saving the planet" - as this reads better than bluntly stating that they are making it as uncomfortable as possible for smokers.

John has gotten this article correct on all counts: leave moral judgment out of the equation and target a problem to solve, and do so in ways that will make a real difference.

But, once again, the issue isn't about stealing sawdust: it's still stealing wheelbarrows. Government and business want people to stop smoking so they don't have to raise taxes or increase health benefits to pay for any problems. They also don't want the market driving up prices for resources and utilities - like electricity, water, gas, fuel - so they restrict the uses of the general population to allow them to continue to consume.

The day that I see government offices - the REAL offices, where governors, senators, congress-critters, etc. work - without incandescent lights, lower (or higher) temperatures and COMPLETELY without smoking areas (indoor ones at that) THEN I'll start taking this seriously. Until then, fookem.

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Flame

Ladies, ladies, ladies...

A quick look with an infrared camera will show a "typical" (sorry for the unqualified generalisation) gas patio heater heating Very efficiently - so long as you are in an expanding amorphous cone suspended above the patio heater. Below, you get warm, but not in any way efficiently.

I know there is this Luddites versus Libertarians argument going on, with El Reg fighting the noble fight for our right to convenient comfort at any expense, but you do have to say enough waste is, well, enough... somewhere.. somehow.. and unfortunately all legislators can do is legislate, so they legislate and thus, the law.

Whether that is effective against the average man's determination to exercise his god given right to sit comfortably in the beer garden of his local boozer wearing n'owt but his bloomers while glaciers advance and polar bears flee the bitter arctic winds... well I doubt it..

I know this sounds mean spirited and, well, Radiohead'ish, but grow some balls people. Yes, you too, ladies. Put on your thick socks, pull on a cardie, wear a beanie and quaff your ale. Earne your right to laugh mockingly at the ladymen huddled by the hearth in the main bar - cringing meekly from the elements that you, so imperiously, embrace as kin. The wind, the rain and the snow that carved your visage from the British bedrock leaves lesser men hiding with the womenfolk and singing raucous ballads by the player piano in a vain attempt to conceal their shame. They are chalk to your granite. Clay to your rough-hewn bluestone.

Just dont go around expecting someone to furnish a balmy summers day everywhere you decide to plant your arse and get off your face. That is just wasteful and stupid...

...Just because you were too gutless to move to Australia when your friends did. Maybe a few more joules will burn away the stinging memory of their smug postcards..

Crank up the burner, barkeep!

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Pirate

It's YOUR fault!

I'll stop using outdoor heaters when we can have a ban on anti-smokers ......... yes Iain Purdie, I mean jackasses such as yourself!

You wanted us banned from smoking indoors - you got your wish, now you're bitching because we dare to keep ourselves warm outdoors? (alas I don't think my reply to that would get past the El Reg filters). Here's an idea for you - you see a smoker on the same side of the road as yourself, cross over the damn thing or quit bitching.

This whole patio heater ban, as has been pointed out, is about smokers, nothing more, nothing less (there are far more wasteful things than a damn heater!).

.... dammit, I need a smoke now!

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Pirate

Coldest Winter /Summer in last 50 years ....

It has already been documented by Meteorologists and Geographers that 2007 and beginning of 2008 has been the Coldest winter and Heaviest precipitation in the Northern and Southern hemispheres this year, than in the last 50 years!

Go tell Al Gore, your MP's and all the members of the Church of the Global Warming to shove their Folly up where the sun don't shine (and we're not talking about the arctic in the winter either).

It's time to stop all this contrived bullshit to wreck the iindustrial advanced western civilizations by the3rd worlds socialists and the ones in America and Europe.

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Anonymous Coward

lol

Well it's good to see that the guys in Europe have plenty to do.

Re the "debate" it's a ----ing heater - people like heat - it accounts for ---- all stop driving you hapless ----wits. Seriously.

Just drive less you ----s

JUST DRIVE LESS

However it's all meaningless as most energy use is done by industry and basically what people are saying is "stop your economic growth!" But that wont be hard, soon nobody will have a manufacturing job - and all our IT and call centres will be offshored - enviromentalists must have loved the closure of all those car manufacturing plants! Just imagine how much energy that saved.

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