Use of portable heaters

The use of portable heaters at UOW

A range of factors affect what individuals feel as a comfortable office temperature and include things like the air temperature, air movement, amount of sun penetration into the building, the clothing that is worn and the amount of physical activity conducted.
Air-conditioned buildings at the Wollongong Campus are set to 24°C during summer and 21°C during winter according to the Air-conditioning Design Standards. These set points are considered within the range that is optimal for office work (refer to the Thermal Comfort Guidelines).  In buildings without air-conditioning the use of portable heaters is permitted in office areas. All portable heaters used at UOW must be:

  • safe to use,
  • kept in safe working order,
  • used in a safe manner,
  • energy efficient, and
  • used in manner to reduce unnecessary energy use.

Portable heaters should not be used in air-conditioned areas as their use interferes with the operation of the air-conditioning and can impact on others within the work area. If due to the nature of your workspace it is considered you require a heater (and you are in an air-conditioned building) it is essential this is properly assessed to ensure that the use of the heater will not impact on others (refer to How to order a heater section below for more information).

Safe and efficient heater use

There are a number of different types of heaters with some being considered safer than others and some being more energy efficient than others. For example a radiant bar heater is a high safety risk and a high energy consumer. Radiant bar heaters are not permitted to be used at UOW due to the safety risk they present. Fan heaters and oil filled column heaters are high energy consumers (consuming between 1.2 and 2.4 kilowatts per hour) whereas the panel heaters (consuming between 0.16 and 0.75 kilowatts per hour) are the most energy efficient option available.

Safety Tips for using a heater at UOW

  • Do not use radiant heaters. They are not permitted at UOW due to the fire safety risk they present.
  • Heaters that are bought in from home must comply with the UOW Safe@Work Electrical Safety Guidelines and must be tested to ensure it is safe to use in the workplace and the appropriate risk assessments need to be conducted. They should also be checked on a regular basis.
  • Heaters that are purchased and supplied via the Facilities Management Division should be inspected by the user on a regular basis to confirm they are in good working order.
  • Heaters must not be used in work environments that contain flammable gases or other flammable materials or in areas where they are likely to come into contact with water.
  • Paper, plastics, clothes, linen and other combustibles must be kept at least one (1) metre away from all heaters.
  • Ensure the heater is placed so that there is space between portable heater and the wall.
  • Ensure the electrical cords are not crossing the front of the heater and are not run where they create a trip hazard or under carpets or rugs.
  • Never leave heaters operating when unattended.

For further advice on the safe use of heaters, and seek assistance and advice to comply with the UOW Electrical Safety Guidelines please contact the UOW Workplace Health and Safety Unit.

What to do with an unsafe heater at UOW

If your heater is inspected and is found to be unsafe you should cease operating it immediately and dispose of the heater. Panel and fan heaters can be disposed via the UOW electronic waste collections . For disposal of oil filled column heaters please contact the Facilities Management Service Centre ( These heaters cannot be disposed and recycled via the ewaste collections due to the oil they contain.

Energy efficiency tips for using a portable heater at UOW

To minimise the use of your heater and to ensure that it is used energy efficiently:

  • Please ensure that you dress appropriately according to the season and the weather.
  • Keep doors and windows closed to keep the hot air in.
  • Close window blinds overnight to reduce heat loss in the office.
  • Get up from your desk occasionally and move around.
  • Be conscious of how long you have the heater operational during the day.
  • Ensure that the heater is not left ON overnight or unattended.

To assist you to remember to turn off your heater:

  • Create a reminder in your outlook calendar to remind you to check and switch off your heater before you leave every day.
  • Download and put up a reminder poster in your office area.  Heater reminder poster.pdf


How to order a heater for your office at UOW Wollongong campus

The standard portable heater that is currently issued for workplace areas at UOW are energy efficient panel heaters. To order a heater for an office space in buildings without air-conditioning please contact the Facilities Management Service Centre (email: and provide an appropriate cost centre with your request.

Portable heaters should not be used in air-conditioned areas as their use interferes with the operation of the air-conditioning. For example using the heater in your area may cause the air-conditioning temperatures for the rest of your work area to be colder and this will affect your colleagues. However, some individual work spaces in air-conditioned areas may not achieve the suitable office work area temperature ranges (due to the individual nature of that particular work space) and the use of portable heaters in these areas may be necessary. If, due to the nature of your work space, it is considered that you require a heater (and you are located in an air-conditioned building) it is essential that this is properly assessed to ensure that the use of a heater in his space is as efficient as possible and will not impact on others.
Please discuss this with your Supervisors, Workplace Health and Safety Officers and the Facilities Management Service Centre so that your individual situation and potential impacts on others can be reviewed and an appropriate strategy to address the issues can be determined. If an adjustment to your workplace or working conditions is required due to a medical condition please refer to Workplace adjustment procedures for more information.

Last reviewed: 20 July, 2017