If you live somewhere cold, the heating of your patio and your deck becomes a big concern. After all, you don’t want to only be able to spend time on your patio during the summer months.What are your options for heating your patio, especially if you’re energy conscious?==> The Old OptionsIn the past, most people opted to heat their patios using traditional gas or propane heaters.While these heaters were relatively inexpensive up front – about $200 each – their costs can add up very, very quickly.The real cost of propane heaters is the propane. You can expect to pay $5 to $8 in propane for every hour that you’re using a propane heater to warm your patio.If you enjoy spending time on your patio, that cost can rapidly add up to a staggering sum.In addition, propane isn’t sustainable. Propane is a natural gas and every dollar you spend on propane is another dollar that goes towards drilling, refineries and factories.==> What Other Options Are There?One of the best options available today is the installation of an electric heater. These heaters are both energy and cost efficient. Instead of spending a lot of money on propane, you only spend a little bit on electricity.There are many different kinds of heaters you can choose from. You can choose from both radiant heaters and directional heaters. You can choose heaters that are designed to heat a large area, or a smaller heater just meant for one or two people.For safety reasons, these heaters must be installed seven feet above the patio floor. Make sure you factor that into consideration when you’re designing and building your patio.The downside of these heaters is the high installation and unit cost. An electric heater is considerably more complex than a propane heater, which just has to pipe gas. As a result, electric heaters can be a bit more costly.Furthermore, electric heaters need to be installed by a professional. There are strict safety standards that need to be adhered to. It’s not as simple as plugging the heater into a socket.At the end of the day, the cost effectiveness really comes down to how often you use your patio. If you only use your patio once in a blue moon, it may be cheaper and even more environmentally conscious to just use a propane heater.On the other hand, if you like to use your patio more than once a week, then it’ll be far, far cheaper for you to get an electric heater installed. Sure it costs more up front, but in the long run you’ll save a lot of money. You’ll also use far less natural resources by going electric.