Enchanted Evenings

Homeowners have long enjoyed the lure of a backyard picnic on a warm summer night. But now consumers are looking at their yards as an extension of their homes.

Designers now often talk about “outdoor rooms,” “outdoor living spaces” or “outdoor kitchens” to emphasize the importance many homeowners now place on their patios and yards.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes that outdoor living spaces are one of the top five trends in new homes. And those outdoor living spaces have evolved beyond the simple patio grill and lawn furniture to include kitchen setups and eating areas; fireplaces and fire pits; patio heaters; gas lights and tiki torches; and pools. A fully equipped outdoor living space not only expands useable home space but also increases home resale values, according to the NAHB.

For many homeowners, the backyard becomes an entertainment venue or a place for family gatherings. Outdoor living spaces offer an alternative to televisions and electronics, giving families a place to talk and interact and offering an ideal mingling spot for both formal and casual social events.

Many consumers find that natural gas is the ideal fuel for transforming a backyard into a personal resort. Along with comfort and convenience, natural gas is a versatile fuel source that can provide the energy needed for outdoor heating, cooking and lighting.

Natural gas is both affordable and environmentally friendly. Bottled propane can cost significantly more to supply outdoor appliances than a direct hook-up to natural gas. And, bottled propane emits around 15 percent more carbon dioxide than natural gas when burned on a grill.

Outdoor Cooking

Natural gas grills are often the centerpiece of outdoor living spaces. Grills can be small and freestanding or large, permanent structures with almost all the features of an indoor range.

Natural gas grills offer more precise temperature controls than charcoal grills, allowing for more consistent cooking results, and they extinguish immediately once turned off.

Gas grills ignite quickly without the long warm-up time required for charcoal grills, and the fuel supply is always available. Unlike propane grills, there’s no chance of a tank being low or running out during a cookout. Because natural gas grills connect directly to your home’s existing natural gas line, the fuel is always available and ready to go.

Natural gas cookouts cost about one-sixth the cost of cooking with charcoal and about one-third the cost of a propane cookout. And in the hottest days of summer, outdoor cooking can reduce home cooling costs by keeping the kitchen cooler.

For many homeowners, the grill becomes the centerpiece of an outdoor kitchen and a focal point for entertaining.

Lighting up the Night

The soft glow of natural gas lighting not only illuminates the night, but can help set the mood for entertaining guests or enjoying family. Plus, the soft glow doesn’t attract bugs like electric lighting.

Natural gas lighting fixtures can be mounted on a post, wall or overhang. Tiki torches offer a more casual lighting option.

Whether enclosed or with open flames, outdoor lighting fueled by natural gas is a reliable light source, even during a power outage.

Because natural gas lighting is not impacted by power outages, gas lighting can provide additional security during disruptions due to the weather.

This article, written by Tonya McMurray, first appeared in our 2015 Spring/Summer issue of Natural Living.