Home & Garden Expert Offers Tips to Maximize Outdoor Spaces Year-Round


Washington, DC (September 21, 2006) – In survey results forecasting the next trend in outdoor design – the year-round outdoor room – about half of respondents say it is very important to be able to spend more time outside.  The research, commissioned by the Propane Education & Research Council, reflects the growing popularity of the $35 million outdoor heating market in the United States.

Innovations in portable, outdoor heaters are now allowing homeowners greater flexibility and extended use of backyard patios.  Responding to demands for year-round comfort, manufacturers are rolling out outdoor heating designs that are both functional and aesthetic.  Recent product launches include head-to-toe portable propane patio heaters, wind-resistant gaslights, permanent fire pits, and bar-height tables with built-in heaters.  Radiant heating installed under decks and concrete patios add constant warmth to indoor-outdoor rooms. 

Katherine Whiteside, a home and garden expert and PERC consultant, built her outdoor room specifically to use for fall harvests and gatherings.  “Nowadays, outdoor rooms possess a certain level of sophistication,” says Whiteside.  “No matter what the season, an outdoor living space gives you freedom to entertain with two kitchens and two fabulous gathering spots.”

Whiteside offers her top four tips for extending the use of outdoor rooms through cooler seasons:

•Homeowners must protect themselves and their guests from the elements, especially the cold.  Consider a propane tabletop heater, which is only two feet tall but heats five feet in diameter.  That’s enough to comfortably warm a dinner table seating four to six people.  A propane patio heater by the grill keeps cooks warm on chilly nights.  Installing radiant heat on a converted patio affords cozy warmth and smooth transitions from indoors to outdoors.
•Think of outdoor rooms as an extension of indoor kitchens.  Today’s propane grills come with a wide range of accessories such as woks and rotisseries that make creating appetizers and main courses a snap.
•Well-placed lighting offsets shorter days and darker nights while newer gas lamps add ambiance and visual effect.  Uplighting a tree or using gas post lights to show off plantings creates a background focal point.
•Consider installing a 250-gallon underground propane tank to provide a constant – and hidden – source of fuel for multiple appliances. Compared to a traditional 20-pound propane cylinder that burns for about 15 hours on maximum capacity, a 250-gallon underground propane tank can supply energy to various outdoor appliances for about 750 hours.

In other PERC survey findings, outdoor rooms ranked greatest in popularity in the Northeast, with 43 percent of survey respondents noting they had an outdoor room, followed by the West and Midwest regions (34 percent) and Southern regions of the country (32 percent).  Further, homeowners age 45 and above (42 percent) were far more likely to have an outdoor room than their younger counterparts (24 percent).

The industry’s top-selling appliances in the outdoor living category mirror the preferences of survey respondents.  After outdoor lighting (94 percent), other propane appliances dominate the list of must-have accessories: 86 percent of those surveyed said gas grills and mosquito eliminators were a necessity, followed by outdoor fireplaces (67 percent) and patio heaters (53 percent).

About the Survey
Knowledge Networks conducted a web-based survey for the Propane Education & Research Council in April 2005.  A nationally representative sample of 1,010 homeowners participated in the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

For additional information about outdoor rooms and appliance options, please visit http://www.usepropane.com/. Images available upon request.