A new barbecue season -- Think Natural Gas?

The doorbell rings. Your guests have arrived and their stomachs are empty. It's time to fire up the grill.

Coming off an unusually long winter—the coldest in 35 years—Ontarians everywhere will be looking to take advantage of great weather with family and friends. And with outdoor temperatures on the rise, so too is the sweet smell of the backyard barbecue.

Whether you're completely new to the barbecue scene and in search of the right equipment, or a veteran pit-master looking for a shiny new addition to your lineup, the age-old debate of natural gas barbecues vs. their charcoal and propane counterparts will likely play out. Purists for charcoal may cite the smoky flavor that comes from that style of cooking, but what's more often the case is that dinner guests aren't able to discern a difference, especially if rubs and marinades are used to impart flavor. Propane models, meanwhile, also come with the inconvenience of needing to refill their tanks.

According to the Ontario Natural Gas Alliance, natural gas barbecues are better sellers, for a myriad of reasons. Here are ONGA's top considerations when it comes to getting the barbecue started this year:

From zero to hot in no time

Natural gas barbecues take virtually no time to heat up vs. charcoal. In as little as 15-20 minutes, including the time it takes to bring the grill to temperature, you can be enjoying fine grilled fare with friends. Less time to cook also allows you to be more spontaneous with your get-togethers. An impromptu moonlit barbeque? Bring it on.

Control is key

The precision with which you can cook on a natural gas grill is not unlike cooking on the stovetop inside. Easily turn the dial up for more heat, down for less, and a thermometer often comes standard to gauge exact cooking temperatures. For true barbecue aficionados, precision is key.

Affordability tastes great

For Ontarians who don't already have a backyard natural gas coupling, the cost of installing one will likely run approximately $350 for each 10-foot extension from the main line. That cost, however, pays off quite steadily over time in the amount saved vs. propane, which will cost up to three times more, not including the time spent running back and forth to the gas station or a retailer for refills. Charcoal and propane (the latter of which faced reliability issues this past winter) are also comparatively more expensive, costing as much as $5 per cookout vs. less than $1 in fuel for natural gas. And a reliable fuel source is something all backyard barbecue enthusiasts can well appreciate.

For more information visit www.cleanandaffordable.ca



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