Using Temporary Heating to Boost Productivity Throughout the Winter

Don’t let the winter chill slowdown crews working in unfinished structures

As temperatures drop, so can workers' productivity on a construction site, even those working within a building shell.

The colder the temperature, the greater the decrease. According to one study, worker efficiency (measured by work output) starts to drop slightly when temperatures sink below approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit and drops by about half when the mercury hits Zero (and goes down from there).

Creating a comfortable working environment via temporary heating can help keep workers moving freely and projects on schedule. United Rentals carries a range of portable heaters to warm up cold crews and temper spaces to maintain construction schedules.

“We help our customers continue to perform their required work safely, efficiently and effectively,” said Eric Jarvis, regional product development manager of United Rentals’ Power and HVAC group.

Choosing the right temporary heater

Ventilation, safety and space are three important considerations when choosing a temporary heat solution.

Make-Up Air Heaters

  • Are ideal for any size space heating the air with relatively low fuel consumption
  • Pressurizes the space, evenly distributing heat while maintaining fresh air changes
  • Can be powered by Natural Gas or Propane
  • Can be placed inside or outside so long as fresh air enters unit
  • Large selection of Heaters based on BTUs: 80k to 4.5M

Indirect Fired Heaters

  • Are similar to your home’s furnace – requires exhaust ventilation to outside air
  • Are powered by Diesel Fuel, Natural Gas or Propane
  • Provides 100% clean, dry air – there is no combustion by-products, moisture or other impurities released into the air
  • No open flame – air entering space never comes in direct contact with flame

Electric Heaters

  • Used when absolutely no-flame is permitted
  • Used when power is easily and readily available – 120V to 480V
  • Are used when a building is mostly closed in — no ventilation is required
  • Provide safe, clean and combustion-free heat

Direct Fired Heaters

  • Are a simple and economical solution
  • Are powered by Natural Gas or Propane
  • Should be used where there is plenty of ventilation, such as an office building with no windows installed
  • Have an exposed flame, and thereforeshould not be used in any area where there are combustible products

Using temporary heating once a building is mostly closed in has an additional advantage: It preserves the warranty time on the building’s heating system. “A temporary heating solution allows the owner to reserve the warranty time for when the building is operational,” said Jarvis.

Size it right

Temporary heating units differ in the amount of heat they generate and the amount of space they can warm. To get the most benefit, work with your temporary equipment provider to choose the right heater size.

“Sizing is a function of the volume of the building, the temperature differential — what the temperature is outside versus the temperature you want — the tightness of the building and the indoor activity, or how much heat is being generated by what’s being done inside,” said Jarvis.

Anticipate changing the type of temporary heating you’re using during the course of a construction project. If you start with a direct fired heater, for example, you may want to switch to a make-up air heater or an electric heater as the building gets closed in and the amount of natural ventilation decreases.

Whatever your temporary heating needs, United Rentals can assist you in tailoring a solution to meet them. Explore the heaters United Rentals offers or give our team a call at 833.426.1188.

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