Under a bill sponsored by council member Antonio Reynoso, restaurants would be allowed to use propane heat lamps to warm their outdoor patrons, an update to current city rules that only allow use external natural gas radiators (which require numerous documents and plumbing work. to be connected to the gas pipes). This is an obvious solution to the problem that New York is cold in winter, even in this era of climate change.
But outdoor restaurant heating, once considered a national pride in France, is on track to spread across the country after several cities decided that heated restaurant terraces were too wasteful. A French engineer has determined that running multiple heaters for just five months uses nine times more electricity than the average household. And another study said that the average gas heater emits 3,300 kilograms of carbon dioxide per year. For comparison, a passenger car emits an average of 4,600 kilograms of carbon dioxide per year, according to the EPA.
Reynoso for his part, said he tries to help the restaurant industry with emergencies, and saw propane heaters as a temporary solution to what will hopefully be a temporary crisis.
“Continuing the outdoor dining program is a simple and effective way to continue supporting the industry during this difficult time, and the most effective way to continue the program during the colder months is to use heat lamps.” ”Said Reynoso. “However, I recognize the environmental impacts of this equipment and I would like to stress that their use is only an emergency interim measure.”
Environmental organizations also seem to recognize that outdoor heating will be a necessary evil to continue eating al fresco and have asked restaurants to choose less wasteful electric heaters (which emit around 500 kilograms of carbon dioxide on average).
“Reinventing our streetscape to put diners, bikers and pedestrians first will improve our public health, air quality and our economy,” said Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “Heat lamps would facilitate this alternative use of street space during the cold months. While we do not oppose the proposal to legalize propane heat lamps for outdoor dining, we are concerned about the climate impacts this fossil fuel would cause and we strongly encourage restaurants to use electric heat lamps when this happens. is possible.
Although France bans the heated patio, other cities in cold weather throw gas heaters into the mix for alfresco dining. In Edmonton, Canada, for example, restaurateurs keep outside diners warm with non-metallic furniture, blankets and, yes, gas or electric heaters.