Space Heater Guidelines

UVM is committed to providing safe facilities for working and learning while managing the environmental and economic costs for those facilities. UVM heats workspaces to at least 68°F during periods when they are occupied.

Due to the risk of fire and the adverse costs and effects of increased energy use, portable space heaters are strongly discouraged in UVM buildings. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters are associated with 21,800 fires and 300 deaths annually. 

Guidelines for Use of Space Heaters in UVM Buildings

Appropriate adjustment of the building heating system should always be the preferred option. If minimum workspace temperature is not being provided, please call Physical Plant SOS at (802) 656-2560 and press “1.”

Space heaters should only be used if target temperatures cannot be maintained, for specific health reasons, or other extenuating circumstances. Deans, Chairs, and Department Heads are responsible for ensuring that these guidelines are followed. 


The use of portable space heaters in residence halls is strictly prohibited. 

Safe Use of Space Heaters

  • Read and follow manufacturer's operating instructions, and ensure everyone who may operate it knows how to do so safely.
  • The heater must be electrically powered and designated as approved with a nationally recognized testing laboratory mark [common marks include Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or FM Global Technologies (FM)].
  • A number of space heaters have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to overheating, shorting, or other hazards that increases the risk of a fire. Check the CPSC webpage to ensure your space heater has not been recalled (
The use of any portable heater that is fueled by kerosene, propane, or that produces an open flame is strictly prohibited. 
  • The space heater must have a thermostat for heat regulation. Heaters without thermostats (e.g. simple "on/off" or "high/low" switches) are not permitted.
  • Space heaters must have a tip-over shutdown feature. If the heater is knocked over, the unit must automatically shut off.
  • Space heaters must have overheat protection, which will automatically shut the unit off if there is an overheat situation.
  • The heater may only be located on the floor. Heaters located on filing cabinets, tables, desks, or other surfaces are more susceptible to being knocked over, resulting in accidents or fires.
  • Heaters may only be placed on circuits capable of handling the amperage draw of the heater and other equipment on the circuit.
  • Heaters may not be used in areas where flammable liquids are in use or stored.
  • Keep the heater away from water and out of damp locations.
  • Maintain a minimum clearance of three (3) feet from any combustible materials including furniture, files, boxes, or clothing.
  • Inspect the heater for broken or damaged parts. Never operate a heater you suspect is damaged.
  • Heaters must be plugged directly into a wall receptacle (outlet). Use of extension cords or power strips is not allowed. Electric cords must be kept out of foot traffic paths to prevent tipping.
  • Never run the heater's cord under doors, rugs, or carpeting. This can damage the cord, causing it and nearby objects to burn.
The heater must be turned off and unplugged any time the room or area being heated is unoccupied, especially at the end of the workday. 

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