Electric Blanket Buying Guide: What You Need to Know
The coldest weeks are yet to come, and a small investment now can help keep you warm and save money until spring. But don’t buy an electric blanket until you read our guide. We have tips and tricks to help you avoid wasting money on the wrong choice.
What type of electric blanket to buy?
There are two main types of electric blankets.
The first, more common in the UK, is essentially under the covers. It is designed to be used in bed to help you get a better night’s sleep in a cold room. It is placed on top of your mattress or mattress topper and you sleep on it. Inside the blanket are wires that radiate heat.
You will be able to feel the wires underneath you, but not to the point where it interferes with your sleep. These blankets are usually made from a fleecy fabric that is warm and cushioning.
The second type is a blanket that you can pull over yourself when you are relaxing on a sofa, in an armchair or on a bed. They tend to look a lot like any sofa you would get for a sofa – tactile and fuzzy. The only difference is that there is a matrix of wires everywhere.
Both blanket types are controlled by a control panel halfway down the cable. They usually have different heat settings and a timer function so they turn off automatically when you fall asleep.
Lewis Artist / Foundry
Both types of duvets are machine washable.
What you need to know before you buy an electric blanket
For more product details, check out our Cosi Home electric blanket and Silentnight Comfort Control electric blanket reviews. But from our testing, you should pay attention to the following features:
Controllers and dual controllers: If you’re shopping for an electric blanket for a double bed, dual controls are ideal so you and your partner can individually select the perfect heating temperature for your side. Dual controllers is a feature only available on more expensive duvets.
How does it attach to your bed: Some electric blankets have a strap that you attach directly under the mattress, others have elastic corner straps. The latter greatly facilitate the attachment and removal for washing.
Settings: Indeed, the more options for setting the temperature, the better. This will allow you to find the sweet spot between not making any difference and roasting you like a turkey.
Timer: Most duvets have a timer that will allow you to set it so that the duvet turns off after a certain number of hours. This is a useful feature and you should make sure whoever you buy has it.
The size: When we looked at electric blankets, the same problem came up repeatedly. The electric blankets do not cover the entire bed. They are essentially heating pads that simply cover the area where you lie. But our reviewers found that this created two problems: the discomfort of cold heads and toes, and the fact that the blanket’s hard plastic connector was in the sleeping area and was clearly uncomfortable to lie on.
Henry Burrell / Foundry
Here we must warn you that your electric blanket must not hang over the edge of your bed: it must lie flat, otherwise the wires inside may be damaged. But if you measure the size of your mattress and the size of your desired comforter, you may find that you can safely go up the size.
Connector size and location: Your electric blanket will be connected to a cable with a plug on the end. But as we mentioned above, the connector can be in your sleeping area, so the best electric blanket for sleeping will have the connector flat and close to the edge of the blanket.
Security Features: The key safety feature you need is overheating protection. If the blanket gets too hot, it will turn itself off. Most electric blankets offer this feature and you should make sure the one you buy has it.
Temperature sensor: Some more expensive electric blankets may have a room temperature sensor that allows it to automatically adjust the heating settings.
What to look for before buying a blanket
Buying an electric cast is a much simpler and less technical proposition. In addition to measuring its size and considering how durable the fabric is, the key things to look out for are:
- Heating parameters
- overheat protection
Emma Rowley / Foundry
You can read our review of the Glamhaus Warm Throw, which is a cozy, effective, and budget-friendly option.
Are electric blankets safe?
A few years ago, electric blankets had a bad reputation for safety. But this is no longer the case. As we already mentioned, you should keep an eye on the overheating protection. But as long as you buy your electric blanket from a reputable store and follow the care instructions, it’s completely safe to use.
When using a blanket, make sure it is flat and the wires inside are not tangled or pinched together. Do not cover the electric blanket when it is in use.
Most electric blankets are safe to machine wash on a cold wash. Very few of them can be tumble dried and we would not recommend doing so. Hang or lay it flat to dry, but if you’re tying it to a line, make sure you don’t pinch any wires inside. Never turn it on to dry faster and don’t use it until it’s completely dry.
When you put away the blanket, roll it up so the wires don’t get wrinkled.
Make sure you check it regularly for wear or any signs of damage.
How much money can an electric blanket save?
If you’re trying to keep your energy bill down, an electric blanket is the cheapest way to keep warm. Even after factoring in the cost of buying one, you can still save money by running a blanket instead of central heating or a plug-in heater.
An average electric blanket costs about 3d an hour. An average plug-in heater costs about 51 pence an hour. And your gas central heating will cost between £1.36 and £4.41 an hour, depending on whether your home is a small apartment or a large house.
You can check for yourself. If you want to know how much it costs to run a heated blanket or any connected device, we have an explanation to guide you step by step. But as a quick guide, here’s what to do.
- Find out the power of the blanket.
- Find an online calculator like this one from Sust-It, enter the wattage of the blanket and set the use time to 60 minutes. If you know your rate, add it or select one of the options from the drop-down menu.
- Or you can calculate manually, in which case multiply the consumption by kWh and then multiply that by the tariff per unit of electricity. To get the figure in kWh: watts x consumption / 1000. Then: kWh x tariff per unit.
For example, a plug-in heater will likely be around 1000-2000 watts. So, if you used a 1500 watt heater for an hour and your unit rate is 34p (which is now the UK average), then the heater will cost you 51p an hour to work.
How much does an electric blanket cost?
Electric blankets typically cost £40 and up. For this price you get a single bed sheet with simple controls and basic functions. For around £100 you can get a dual control duvet.
Throws start at £50 and up, and there’s a wide range of fleeces and velvety textures to choose from.
If you need more warmth than an electric blanket can provide, take a look at our roundup of the best plug-in and portable heaters.
And if you want to know when it’s cheaper to use a plug-in heater or when to turn on your central heating, check out our gas or plug-in heater explanation to help you figure it out.