Chairs and benches that warm up when they come into contact with a human bottom could save the hospitality trade thousands of pounds each year.
That’s the view of Love Energy Savings, which is encouraging people in the hospitality industry to warm to a solution that’s kinder to the environment and their bottom line.
Dutch company Sit & Heat manufacture cushions for terraces and bars, football stadiums and even churches.
The system is already proving hugely popular among landlords and restauranteurs in the Netherlands.
Prices start from €109 per chair – around £95.
The cushions were invented primarily to tackle the high cost of patio heaters in outdoor seating areas.
Founder Jorg Rijkschroeff revealed the idea first came to him following the introduction of laws banning smoking from venues over a decade ago.
Rijkschroeff, who studied industrial design, said: “The Dutch government tried to prohibit all the (outdoor) heaters – right after the smokers ban.
“People were sitting outside more, and bar and restaurant owners were using many outdoor heaters to keep their customers warm. This was an expensive and very environmentally unfriendly ‘answer’.
“So the government tried to prohibit the heaters. I thought there must be an alternative, because they can’t ban the heaters – people would freeze!”
Rijkschroeff, who was just 20 at the time, sent his proposal to the government and was invited to present his idea to the Environment Ministry.
They were impressed and he was awarded a small grant to start making prototypes.
He added: “The unique thing about the Sit & Heat range is the combination of energy saving and more comfort. It’s direct heating so you won’t lose any energy to the open air.
“You heat the people directly from the cushion and we only use 30 or 40 watts per seat. And it only heats when you sit on it.
“An electric heater uses 2,000 watts. A propane gas heater uses anywhere between 6,000 to 12,000 watts. You’re not heating the open air anymore.
“Energy is no longer lost as users isolate heat as soon as they sit down on the cushion. It means you don’t only save energy but also create comfort at the same time.”
There are currently two types of modules available: fixed seating, charged by plugging in, and battery seating. A battery charge lasts between three to five hours.
With 150 catering companies already onboard in the Netherlands, the idea is starting to take off in the UK.
Southsea Beach Cafe in Portsmouth already has the heated seats, as does the Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell, Republic of Ireland.
The innovative product has struck a chord with Bolton-based firm Love Energy Savings, which specialises in finding businesses the cheapest energy deals.
CEO Phil Foster said: “Heated seats on terraces mean that people in the UK can enjoy the al-fresco experience all year round, without shivering under energy-wasting heaters that see most of the warmth escape.
“The Sit & Heat cushions are an excellent idea, they are energy efficient and could save hospitality businesses a lot of money, which is key for their survival.”