Nanoscale heating production using nanowires has been shown to be particularly attractive for a number of applications including nanostructure growth, localized doping, transparent heating and sensing. However, all proof-of-concept devices proposed so far relied on the use of highly conductive nanomaterials, typically metals or highly doped semiconductors. In this article, we demonstrate a novel nanoheater architecture based on a single semiconductor nanowire field-effect transistor (NW-FET). Nominally undoped ZnO nanowires were incorporated into three-terminal devices whereby control of the nanowire temperature at a given source–drain bias was achieved by additional charge carriers capacitatively induced via the third gate electrode. Joule-heating selective ablation of poly(methyl methacrylate) deposited on ZnO nanowires was shown, demonstrating the ability of the proposed NW-FET configuration to enhance by more than one order of magnitude the temperature of a ZnO nanowire, compared to traditional two-terminal configurations. These findings demonstrate the potential of field-effect architectures to improve Joule heating power in nanowires, thus vastly expanding the range of suitable materials and applications for nanowire-based nanoheaters.