Low-wattage heater options for personal comfort
Published: February 1, 2015
What do you do when you feel cold in your work space? During the cooler part of year, most campus spaces are heated to 70°F during building-occupied hours. However, because spaces at MSU vary greatly in age, construction and function, exceptions will occur. If your space is consistently below 70°F, your first step is to call MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities at (517) 353-1760 to determine the source of the problem.
What if your work space temperature is adequate but you're still feeling cold? Comfortable work conditions are important but so is energy efficiency and safety. A 1500-watt portable space heater is usually not an option because MSU policy limits their use to approved spaces.
What comfort alternatives are available to you?
A low-wattage heater could be the perfect solution. These units, which use under 200 watts, are great for safely heating the area immediately around you. By focusing heat where it is needed you're kept warm while people nearby, who may prefer it cooler, remain unaffected. Additionally, low-wattage options rarely impact thermostat settings, run silently and provide almost instantaneous relief.
Low-wattage heaters come in several varieties including flat panel, footrest and seat warmer.
Panel models are designed to be mounted to a wall or used with a stand. Some are small enough to be placed under your desk to keep you warm while you work. Others can be used on or next to your desk to warm your hands or upper body. This is great if you have circulatory issues.
Footrest types provide gentle, radiant heat where it does the most good--at your feet. This helps keep the rest of your body warm.
Specialized seat warmers have built-in electromagnetic filters and overheating controls. They provide cushioning, use minimal energy (15 watts) and are one of the most popular low-wattage devices we recommend.
Most low-wattage heaters work by radiating heat directly to your body. The transfer of radiant heat is an important factor in how people feel in a space. Who hasn't sat beside a cold window and felt a chill, even though the thermostat indicated an air temperature of 72°F or more? Consider how comfortable you feel near a campfire even though the air surrounding you might be 0°F. Low-wattage heaters are effective for improving personal comfort because they heat people and objects, not the air. This is similar to how the sun heats the earth.
The best part of low-wattage heaters is that they use 90% less energy than a 1500-watt portable space heater to do the same job--or better. These devices are also far safer, eliminating tripped circuits and reducing fire hazards.