Electric blanket buying guide: what you need to know
The coldest weeks are still ahead of us and a little investment now could help you stay warm and save money well into spring. But don’t buy an electric blanket before reading our guide. We have tips and advice that will ensure you don’t waste money on the wrong one.
What type of electric blanket should you buy?
There are two main types of electric blanket.
The first – which is more common in the UK – is essentially under-hedging. It is to be used in bed to help you sleep better in a cold room. It is placed on your mattress or your mattress topper and you sleep on it. Inside the blanket are wires that give off heat.
You may feel the threads under you, but not to the point of disturbing your sleep. These blankets tend to be made of a warm, quilted fleece fabric.
The second type is a throw that you can put on when relaxing on a couch, chair, or bed. These tend to look like any throw you’d get for a sofa – tactile and fuzzy. The only difference is that there is a wire matrix everywhere.
Both types of coverage are controlled by a control panel halfway up the cable. Typically they will have different heat settings and a timer function, so they will automatically turn off once you doze off.
Lewis Painter / Caster
And both types of cover can be cleaned in a washing machine.
What to know before buying an electric underblanket
For more specific product information, see our reviews of the Cosi Home heated blanket and the Silentnight Comfort Control heated blanket. But based on our testing, here are the specific features to look for:
Controllers and dual controllers: If you’re buying an electric blanket for a double bed, it’s ideal to have dual controls, so you and your partner can individually choose the perfect heat setting for your side. Dual controllers are a feature only available on more expensive covers.
How it attaches to your bed: Some electric blankets have a strap that you have to pass just under the mattress to secure it, others have elastic straps in the corners. These make it much easier to attach and remove for washing.
Settings: Really, the more heat setting options, the better. This will allow you to find the middle ground between making no difference and roasting yourself like a turkey.
Timer: Most blankets will have a timer that will allow you to set it for the blanket to turn off after a certain number of hours. It’s a useful feature and you should make sure that the one you buy has it.
Cut: When we reviewed the electric blankets, the same problem came up repeatedly. Electric blankets do not cover the whole bed. Essentially, these are heating pads that just cover the area where you lie down. But our reviewers found this created two issues: the discomfort of cold heads and toes, and the fact that the blanket’s hard plastic connector was in the sleeping area – and obviously uncomfortable to s lie there.
Henry Burrell / Foundry
We must warn you here that your electric blanket should not hang over the side of your bed: it must lie flat or the wires inside could be damaged. But if you measure the size of your mattress and the size of the cover you want, you may find that you can safely increase the size.
Connector size and location: Your electric blanket will be connected to a cable with a plug at the end. But, as we mentioned above, the connector may be in your sleeping area, so the best electric blanket for sleeping will have a flat connector close to the edge of the blanket.
Safety devices: The main safety feature you need is overheating protection. If the blanket gets too hot, it will turn off. Most electric blankets offer this feature, and you need to make sure the one you buy does.
Temperature sensor: Some more expensive electric blankets may have an ambient temperature sensor that will allow it to automatically adjust its heat setting.
What to consider before buying a plaid
Buying an electric throw blanket is a much simpler and less technical proposition. Beyond measuring its size and the durability of the fabric, the key things to look out for are:
- Heat settings
- Overheat protection
Emma Rowley / Foundry
You can read our opinion on the Glamhaus heated throw, which is a cozy, efficient and economical option.
Are electric blankets safe?
Years ago, electric blankets had a bad reputation when it came to safety. But this is no longer the case. As we mentioned, you need to look for overheating protection. But as long as you buy an electric blanket from a reputable retailer and follow their care instructions, it will be perfectly safe to use.
When using your blanket, make sure it’s flat and the threads inside aren’t twisted or pressed together. Do not cover your electric blanket when in use.
Most electric blankets are safe to put in the washing machine on cold. Very few can be tumble dried – and we don’t recommend it. Hang it or lay it flat to dry, but if you attach it to a line, be sure to avoid pinching the wires inside. Never turn it on to dry it faster, and don’t use it until it’s completely dry.
When you store your blanket, roll it up so the threads don’t wrinkle.
Be sure to check regularly that it doesn’t fray or show any signs of damage.
How much money can an electric blanket save?
If you’re trying not to increase your electric bill, an electric blanket is the cheapest way to stay warm. Even after you factor in the cost of purchase in the first place, you’ll still save money if you turn on your blanket instead of turning on your central heating or putting in a plug-in heater.
An average electric blanket costs around 3 pence per hour to operate. An average plug-in heater costs around 51 pence per hour to run. And your gas central heating will cost from £1.36 per hour to £4.41 per hour, depending on whether your home is a small flat or a large house.
You can check for yourself. If you want to know how much an electric blanket – or any other plug-in device – costs, we have an explainer that will help you do it step by step. But as a quick guide, here’s what to do.
- Discover the power of coverage.
- Find an online calculator like this one from Sust-It and enter the coverage wattage and set the usage time to 60 minutes. If you know your rate, add it or choose one of the options from the drop-down menu.
- Or you can calculate by hand, in which case multiply your consumption by kWh, then multiply it by your electricity unit price. To get your kWh figure: watts x consumption / 1000. Then: kWh x unit rate.
A plug-in heater, for example, will probably be around 1000-2000W. So if you were running a 1500W heater for an hour and your unit rate is 34p (which is currently the average from the UK) the heater will cost you 51p per hour to operate.
How much does an electric blanket cost?
Electric blankets usually cost around £40 and up. At this price, you will get an underblanket for a single bed, with simple controls and basic functionality. From around £100 you can get a double undercover with two orders.
Throws cost around £50 and there is a wide variety of fleeces and plush textures to choose from.
If you need more heat 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, take a look at our explainer on gas or plug-in heaters, which will help you find a solution.
Leave a Reply