15 May 2024 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Supplied
Embrace the warmth of safety: Stay cozy with approved quartz heaters such as the Goldair GHQ-100G, keeping our campus secure and snug.

As winter approaches, the University of the Free State (UFS) is expecting increased heater usage. The Department of University Estates is proactively addressing this surge in energy demand caused by colder weather to safeguard our campuses and help mitigate the risk of loadshedding, ensuring uninterrupted operations for our staff and students.

By addressing the surge in energy demand caused by colder weather and promoting energy-efficient practices, UFS aims to play its part in alleviating the strain on the power system and contributing to national efforts to mitigate loadshedding.

With South Africa enjoying a recent break from loadshedding, Nicolaas Esterhuysen, Director of Engineering Services, stresses the importance of wise electricity usage to prevent outages and maintain safety. “During this uninterrupted power supply, it’s crucial to be mindful of our electricity usage, especially regarding heating in winter,” Esterhuysen emphasises. “By adopting energy-efficient practices, we contribute to the university’s energy-efficiency goals and create a safer environment."

In line with promoting energy efficiency, the Office for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is rolling out a comprehensive campaign to remove unauthorised heaters, minimising fire risks in residential and office areas.

Thato Block, Deputy Director of OHS, explains: “With the structural fire season approaching, UFS is prioritising campus safety. As colder weather looms, heaters and other warming devices will be in high demand, prompting preemptive action. OHS and the Electrical workshop will commence removing unauthorised heaters from residences and offices starting May 2024.”

Guidelines for heater usage

To ensure compliance and safety, UFS has established specific guidelines for electrical heater usage on its premises. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) outlines permissible and prohibited heater types, along with safety measures.

According to the SOP, only quartz heaters meeting specific criteria, such as the Goldair GHQ-100G model, are permitted on campus. These heaters are designated for offices without air conditioning, prioritising energy efficiency and safety. Furthermore, heaters are not permitted in residences due to the presence of centralised heating systems.

Prohibited models like bar, fan and oil heaters are strictly banned due to their high energy consumption and fire risks. Any unauthorised heaters found on campus will be confiscated to prevent electrical circuit overload and ensure emergency power system reliability.

In addition to regulating heater types, the UFS has implemented a stringent purchasing procedure overseen by the Department of University Estates Electrical Engineers. Approval is required before requisitioning heaters, with only quartz heaters meeting purchase criteria. This proactive approach aims to effectively manage electricity consumption, especially during peak demand periods in winter.

Safety precautions

The UFS community is reminded to exercise caution when using heaters, including maintaining a clutter-free environment around the device, and avoiding covering it. It’s also important to ensure adequate distance between the heater and flammable materials, switch off heaters when unattended, and disconnect them from power sources during prolonged periods of non-use.

Commitment to campus safety

The UFS remains committed to prioritising the safety and well-being of its community. Through proactive measures and fostering safety awareness, the university aims to create a secure environment conducive to teaching and learning throughout the year.

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