Heater use in office areas

A range of factors affect what individuals feel as a comfortable office temperature, including:

  • air temperature
  • air movement
  • amount of sun penetration into the building
  • the clothing that is worn
  • 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, considered to be within the range that is optimal for office work. Refer to the Air-conditioning Design Standards and 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
  • used in manner to reduce unnecessary energy use.

The use of portable heaters in air-conditioned areas can interfere with the operation of the air-conditioning.  This can impact on the air-conditioning temperatures for others within the work area.  For this reason the use of portable heaters in air-conditioned areas needs to be properly assessed to ensure that the use of the heater will not impact others.

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).  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 must comply with the 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. Refer to the Electrical Safety for details on how to get items tagged and tested.
  • All heaters should be checked 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.  They also should not be used 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 unattended.

For further advice on the safe use of heaters, 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 theFacilities Management Service Centre. These heaters cannot be disposed and recycled via the electronic waste 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.
  • Put up a reminder poster (PDF) in your office area.

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

To order a heater  please contact the Facilities Management Division Service Centre and provide an appropriate cost centre with your request.  Portable heaters will only be provided if your building is not air-conditioned.

Portable heaters should not be used in air-conditioned areas as it may impact on others in your area. 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 work spaces in air-conditioned areas may not achieve the suitable office work area temperature ranges (due to the nature of that particular work space).  The use of portable heaters in these areas may be necessary but it it is essential that this is properly assessed.  This will be done to ensure that the use of a heater in his space is as efficient as possible and will not impact on others.

If you are in an air-conditioned area but you feel that you need a portable heater due to the nature of your work area please discuss this with your Supervisors, Workplace Health and Safety Officers and the Facilities Management Service Centre.  Your individual situation and potential impacts on others can be reviewed and an appropriate approach 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.

Hand in your heater

If you are located in an air-conditioned building and you have a portable heater please:

  • take it home if it is your personal heater or 
  • give it back to the Facilities Management Division for reallocation

If you think you still need a personal heater due to your work environment please arrange to get your work space assessed.  This will ensure efficient use and that the heater will not impact on others.  Contact the Facilities Management Division to arrange this assessment.