Electric Blankets, Are They Worth Your Money?
The winter months lead to higher heating demands, so it should come as no surprise if you see increases in your electricity costs. After all, running your central heating system 24/7 can be an expensive affair. Even space heaters use significant amounts of electricity, so you’ll inevitably be left with higher energy bills. That’s if you want to stay warm and snug during freezing weather.
Fortunately, you have an alternative. Instead of relying on your central heating system or space heaters to maintain a comfortable temperature in your living space, you can use an electric blanket. Compared to space heaters, electric blankets are more cost-efficient in helping you get a night of restful sleep during the height of winter.
What is an Electric Blanket?
An electric blanket looks pretty much like ordinary bedding. However, it’s made from heavier and sturdier materials than those used for a non-electric blanket, usually a combination of polyester and acrylic fabric. This blend works well to prevent possible fire risks and trap enough heat to provide warmth.
Electric blankets fall under the category of household appliances. That’s due to the electrical heating wire that’s incorporated into them. The different types of electric blankets include over and under blankets and throws.
Aside from the heat they provide, electric blankets shouldn’t feel any different from non-electrified bedding. Some models can even go into the washer. You’ll just need to remove the temperature dial first.
How Does it Work?
Electric blankets typically plug into an outlet and draw electric power from your circuits. Wires running through the fabric carry heat which warms the blanket to the desired temperature. You don’t have to worry about any wires poking you through the material. Good quality electric blankets have wires that are thin enough and enmeshed in fabric, so you don’t feel them.
Most brands of electric blankets have three heat levels. These are low, medium, and high. You can easily change the heat level of electric blankets. It’s as simple as clicking a button on the remote that comes with them.
Larger electric blankets (those made for double or king-sized beds) can be shared by two people. These often come with dual-temperature settings to let you control the heat level on each side.
How much it costs to run an electric blanket is usually the first question that comes to mind when purchasing this item. The answer will sound like music to your ears. Not a lot. It’s certainly less than what it costs to operate a space heater or your central heating system constantly.
On average, you will add between 70 watts to your home’s power consumption if you run an electric blanket for one hour. That’s 30 to 50 percent less than what a 500-watt space heater uses and 15 to 25 percent lower than the consumption of a 1,000-watt one. According to the US Department of Energy, electric blankets are some of the least expensive appliances to operate.
Of course, how much electricity electric blankets use depends on several factors. These include the temperature setting, how often, and how long you keep it on. Still, even at their highest setting, most electric blankets beat the energy consumption of a space heater or central heating system when it comes to kilowatt-hour usage. That means they don’t impact your electric bill as much as other heating devices.
Their energy consumption may be less than other heating devices, but what about the investment you’ll need to shell out? You’ll be glad to know that adding the item electric blanket cost to your budget won’t hurt at all.
Several types of electric blankets exist, making it easy for you to find one that suits your pocket. Some smaller types can cost as low as $20 in some retailers, while fancier options can go for as high as $300. Moreover, the amount you save from your power bills is more than enough to cover the cost of this heating device.
Aside from the price tag and how much energy it takes to run electric blankets, safety is another concern among consumers. That’s due to the electrical elements woven into the fabric of these sleeping aids.
For safety’s sake, always buy good-quality electric blankets. They may be more expensive, but the additional cost is worth it. Cheap ones may be easier on your pocket, but they could be made of bad fabric and not manufactured according to strict safety guidelines.
Aside from the quality, misuse is one of the common causes of accidents associated with electric blankets. Read the instruction manual first before using your electric blanket for the first time so you’ll know how to set it up correctly.
Also, look for an electric blanket with an automatic shut-off and overheat protection sensor. These safety features help prevent potential fires.
Electric Blanket vs Electric Heater
In terms of energy consumption, a heated blanket beats an electric heater, hands down. The cost to run an electric blanket comes to a little over $25 in three months (using it for about 5 hours a day). Compare that with the $63 it takes to operate an electric heater for the same duration.
Types of Electric Blankets
Due to the wide range of options, you’re sure to find a heated blanket that will suit your needs and budget. There are different types you can choose from depending on the kind of fit and heating level you require to stay warm and comfy.
|Item||Cost to run (per hour)||Cost to run (Ten hours)||Cost to run (through winter/3 months)|
|Electric Blanket (200 watts)||$0.028||$0.28||$25.2|
|Electric Heater (500 watts)||$0.07||$0.70||$63|
Electric under-blanket goes above the mattress and below the bottom sheet. This type of heated blanket is more common in other countries, such as the UK. The fitted sheet holds it in place so it doesn’t slip off, even if you’re the type who tosses and turns in your sleep. It’s available in soft and hard fabric and is best used on the lowest heating level.
While an electric under-blanket sits atop the mattress, the electric over-blanket goes above the top bed sheet. This type is more common in the US and is the one referred to by the term electric blanket. It’s usually made from soft fabrics and can cover your body from shoulder to leg. Aside from your bed, you can also use this kind of heated blanket on a sofa or carpet.
Heated throws serve a double purpose. They provide heat and can be used as part of your home decor because they come in various designs and colors. Soft and luxurious to the touch, you can use heated throws to keep your hands and feet warm while sitting on your couch watching a movie. They also suit the purpose of preheating your bed as you go through your bedtime rituals.
Benefits of an Electric Blanket
Using an electric blanket offers plenty of benefits. Let’s look at the more popular ones.
- Energy efficiency: Electric blankets are energy-efficient options for keeping warm during the winter months. Compared to space heaters, they use less electricity. Because they let you save energy, they help reduce your electricity bill.
- Pain relief: The kilowatt-hours your heated blanket consumes are well worth it because the heat it produces can ease muscle tightness and relieve cramps. Those suffering from poor circulation will benefit from using heated blankets as heat increases circulation.
- Better sleep quality: An increase or decrease in temperature can disrupt your sleep cycle. Even if you don’t wake up fully when you get chilled, it can pull you from a deep sleep which your body needs to feel completely rested.
- Mood improvement: Warmth calms your body and mind naturally. During the colder months, your body uses up plenty of energy to keep warm. As a result, you may feel anxious or stressed when the temperature drops at night. A warm blanket helps keep your body temperature at an ideal level without consuming extra energy.
Tips Before Buying an Electric Blanket
Don’t be put off by scary stories of electrocution or other safety hazards coming from heated blankets. You can easily avoid those risks by carefully selecting your electric blanket.
- Choose blankets that have overheat protection sensors: These models automatically turn off when it gets too hot.
- Consider the blanket’s wattage: Keep in mind that the higher the blanket’s wattage, the faster it heats.
- Look for blankets with high energy star ratings: These models use less electricity, which lets you save on your energy bill. How much you save will depend on the per kilowatt hour price of electricity in your area.
- Check that the blanket meets all safety requirements: High-quality blankets often undergo rigorous testing to ensure they don’t turn into safety hazards for consumers. So don’t be tempted to go for cheap but low-quality models.
- Inspect the heated blankets before using: Check for worn patches and ragged edges. Also, inspect if the wires don’t poke out of the insulating material.
Can you leave an electric blanket on all night?
Modern, high-quality electric blankets are designed to keep you warm and cozy all night. However, overnight use is not recommended. The wires in the blanket need to be thin enough to make the blanket soft and flexible. As such, those electricity-carrying wires are prone to damage. They can quickly overheat and catch fire if left on for long periods.
How long can you leave a heated blanket on?
Electric blankets are such effective heaters that they warm up your bed in a short time. Although they can often withstand continuous operation, they’re best suited for short-term use. Leave a heated blanket on only for around 20 minutes. The risks of fires, burns, heat strokes, and cancer increase the longer you use an electric blanket.
Can you lie in bed with an electric blanket on?
You can lie in bed with an electric blanket on. However, you shouldn’t keep the heated bedding running while you sleep. Doing so increases various risks that aren’t worth taking. Instead, use the blanket to warm the bed and then turn it off before you fall asleep.
Is an electric blanket cheaper than a space heater?
Space heaters generally use more electricity than electric blankets. Of course, the energy consumption of these devices varies depending on different factors, such as their power rating and how long you operate them. But all things being equal, an electric blanket on the highest setting is still more cost-effective than a space heater.
Your HVAC system produces warm air to counteract the chill of winter. Doing so requires plenty of energy, and as you know, consuming too much electricity increases your electric bill. If you want to stay warm at night during the winter months, you can consider purchasing an electric blanket. This energy-efficient bedding is an excellent alternative to your central heating unit and space heaters.