Study of Electric Space Heater Usage Reveals Building Performance Improvement and Program Opportunities
The Plug Load Equipment Inventory conducted in summer 2014 revealed a total of 955 electric space heaters on campus that are estimated to account for $144,728 in operating costs per year. Before designing a program to minimize space heater use, Office of Sustainability worked with Facilities Energy Management and Zone Management to understand if macro-level heating issues in particular buildings could easily be addressed to encourage space heater use to subside naturally. Zone engineers surveyed rooms with space heaters in 17 buildings and were able to make 57 adjustments to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, remove 48 space heaters, and ascertain valuable information from occupants on space heater usage patterns and preferences.
One key outcome of the study was the identification of trends in space heater use, such as greater use in older buildings (many of which are scheduled for HVAC retrofits in coming years) and in shared offices, where occupants often have different temperature preferences. The study also revealed that more education should be available to building occupants regarding how to adjust the temperature in their space without using space heaters. Finally, the study was able to shed light on space heater usage patterns across campus, revealing that the majority of occupants use their space heaters conservatively, such as only running them for one to two hours on cold mornings or evenings in the winter. Only 6% seem to use their space heaters frequently, while another 6% report using them rarely or never. Ultimately, this study will inform future programming regarding efficient space heating.