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How to entertain naturally this summer

There’s nothing like entertaining on a hot summer night – the kids dip in and out of the pool in the twilight hours while succulent meat sizzles on the barbecue. If you’re planning to host events at home, not just in summer, but into the cooler months, it’s worth ensuring that your outdoor area is set to shine.

Fire up with natural gas

Whether you’re designing an alfresco entertaining area from scratch or you simply want to boost your backyard party potential, consider appliances that use natural gas. When the barbecue, pool and outdoor heaters are all working simultaneously, you’ll want to ensure you’re limiting the impact you have on the environment.

Choosing natural gas has extra benefits, too. Firstly, it’s more affordable than the electric alternatives. According to Craig Yelland, sales manager at Energy Hothouse SA, choosing natural gas will generate significant savings in the long run. For example, if you choose a natural gas heater, ‘It will cost about 25-50 cents to run per hour. The electric equivalent costs about $1.20 per hour,’ he says.

Costs can spike when you leave outdoor equipment running, but that’s less likely when you’re using gas. Electric products produce what he calls ‘black heat’, which means it’s easy to forget they’re on and leave them running after your gathering’s over. In the case of gas, ‘there’s a visual to them – they glow red or you see a flame,’ he explains. This means you’re unlikely to leave them on at the end of the night.

Winning warmers

A barbecue is a must for outdoor entertaining. Yelland suggests buying a natural gas barbecue if you want to serve up an impressive spread. ‘Natural gas is great fuel for a barbecue as you don’t have the hassle of swapping bottles or getting half way through cooking and finding out you have run out of gas,’ he says. His tip is to choose a barbeque with stainless steel or machined burners. ‘Machined burners are much more efficient and therefore require less gas to produce heat,’ he adds. If you currently have an LPG barbeque and want to switch to natural gas, consider talking to your gasfitter to see if it can be converted.

A natural gas heater is also an excellent addition if you want to entertain, regardless of the season’s conditions. Outdoor heaters not only keep the temperature comfortable when hot nights turn cool, they can warm up spaces well into winter.

When it comes to choosing the right heater, Yelland says the first consideration will be how open your environment is. If it’s not enclosed, you’ll need radiant heat. The alternative is a product that operates using convection heat, which blows around and escapes spaces. ‘Radiant heat is like sunlight, it warms the walls, table and people. The heat hangs around much longer,’ he explains.

Setting the scene

Once you know what kind of heat you need, the choice comes down to price and the aesthetic style you prefer. Yelland says you can chose from wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, free standing patio-style, outdoor fireplaces and ‘fire tables’ which create an open fire look. Heating can be a big investment. Some products are more affordable, starting at a few hundred dollars, while others can cost more than $3000, but Yelland says, ‘If you’re spending a lot on your outdoor entertaining area, consider the potential for ambience.’

When all of the big decisions have been made, all you’ll need to do is add the trimmings: outdoor cushions, a wireless speaker for your party playlist and perhaps a set of fairy lights. Your events will be the envy of the neighborhood.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Regency Fireplace Products

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