CPA Public Affairs
November 2020

Propane vs electric outdoor heaters: the CPA responds

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Low-emission propane is providing an important source of energy that allows restaurants to survive and stay open during the pandemic as many turn to outdoor propane heaters to keep patrons warm outside. It is unfortunate that the CBC recently ran an online story, "What the widespread use of outdoor heaters means for Toronto’s carbon footprint this winter," that favoured electric over propane heaters.

The CPA quickly responded to the CBC article, stating that “low-emission propane is far from the fuel that is described in the story. The article mentions that electricity is a cleaner alternative to propane. That is true when the source of the electricity is hydro or nuclear. However, when the source is coal or oil as it is in several provinces, that same electric heater is emitting about 38 per cent more GHGs than low-emission propane...Propane also burns hotter and gives off more heat than electricity, which is why it is often the fuel of choice for outdoor heaters.

While the CBC did not publish the CPA’s response – there’s little opportunity for responses as they no longer have a letter to the editor section – the CPA responded on social media with positive messaging about propane heaters.

In addition, the CPA has worked with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority as well as Technical Safety BC on developing and promoting safety guidelines for the use of propane heaters. The CPA also has its own guidelines for members to provide to customers – Safety Tips: Patio Heater Safety Guidelines.

We have created a sample letter template for you to send to your local media as well as a few social media posts for you to post that provide positive messaging about propane heaters and promote their use. 


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