How Much Does It Cost To Run An Electric Blanket?
As the nights draw in and heating bills inevitably take an upwards trajectory, attention invariably turns to ways to keep those energy costs down.
Some heating appliances can be extremely costly to run, especially if it materialises that the cold requires your house to be more intensively heated than you had perhaps budgeted for.
The best electric blankets can be seen as something of a luxury, probably due to the misconcetion that they cost a lot to run. It may keep you warm as you sleep, but surely you’ll be paying for all that power?
Well, we’re going to take a deep dive into this issue, looking at how these blankets work, how much energy they consume and how much it will cost you to run them.
An electric blanket is still an electrical appliance with the possibility of malfunction, so we’ll also be discuss the safety precautions you need to observe so that you can stay warm without harming yourself.
How does an electric blanket work?
An electric blanket is essentially a heavy fabric with an integrated, coiled wiring system that produces heat when turned on.
An electric blanket’s fabric is mostly made of polyester and acrylic, making it fire retardant. The material mixture hoards warmth so that the blanket doesn’t need to be on throughout the night.
The blanket comes with a plug that fits into an electrical outlet, consuming about 120V, and you get to choose your preferred heat setting.
A typical electric blanket has three heat settings: low, medium and high, depending on how cold your house is.
The lowest heat setting can range from about 18°C and 25°C and the highest about 56°C. Controlling the heat is even easier with the remote that comes with it. The blanket will have connectors on the edges that connect the coils with its electrical supply unit.
Like any other emergent technology, electric blanket manufacturers keep coming up with more features to make them more efficient.
These days, blankets come with thermostats to adjust heat settings according to a user’s body heat.
Because of the thermostats and heat gauges, newer electric blankets can have auto-shut offsetting when the heat becomes unbearable. Today’s coiled wires are made of carbon fibre wires which are safe and efficient in heat regulation.
Types of electric blankets
Electric blankets come in two forms: the underblanket and overblanket. The difference between the two comes during placement.
An electrical underblanket fits just below the bottom bed sheet and is the most common version in the UK.
An overblanket, on the other hand, works best when placed just above the top bedsheet and is most common in the US and surrounding areas. Some throws and duvets also work similarly to electric blankets.
Because underblankets are located below you when you sleep, the resulting heat spreads up through the bedsheets to warm you up.
For overblankets, the heat travels downwards. An electric throw is more mobile, and instead of being confined to a bed, you can use it as you watch a movie or study.
These throws aren’t as efficient as electric blankets in that they don’t heat up as much, but they are warm enough for cosy activities.
Difference between an electric blanket and a heated blanket
The difference between an electric blanket and a heated blanket depends on their heating mechanisms.
Electric blankets can be heated blankets, but there are ways to power a heated blanket. Some of these blankets/throws are battery-operated and don’t need a power supply to work.
These blankets are considered safer than their electric-powered counterparts.
Another version of a heated blanket uses hot airflow to keep you and your bed warm. The blanket uses an appliance akin to a blow dryer that supplies hot air through it.
How much does it cost to run an electric blanket?
Electricity consumption depends on the area you reside in and the tariff you’re on. Generally, running an electric blanket will cost you about £1 for a week. Electric blankets are cheaper to use than other heating sources because they warm up a targeted area and not the entire household.
Most electric appliances come with a tag showing how much energy they consume, and it’s the same for electric blankets.
Electric blankets can consume about 200 and 400 watts, depending on their efficiency and your preferred heat setting.
You can measure the actual consumption using a smart meter. Just shut down everything that consumes electricity in your household, including your electric blanket, read the meter and then turn the blanket back on for a while. You can also find wattage information in your blanket’s user manual if you still have it.
How much electricity an electric blanket consumes depends on how long you leave it on. Some people use electric blankets to warm their beds just before getting in, and because bedspreads are sound heat absorbers, your bed will stay warm all night; others tend to leave their blankets on throughout the night.
Using the highest average setting and assuming that you’re the type to just preheat your for 30 minutes before turning it off, then you use about 200 watts, which translates to around 0.2 kilowatts.
Now, if you’re the kind to use your blanket overnight, then you’d use approximately 4 kilowatts for 10 hours of sleep. Considering our calculations, you can use about £20 to heat your household’s beds for a month.
Your electric blankets won’t inflate your electricity bill too much. However, you will start seeing an increase in your electric bill during the winter because of using your blanket as an additional heat source.
How long should an electric blanket run for?
Running an electric blanket depends on your need and personal preference. If it isn’t that cold, you can run your heater for about 30 minutes with the medium heat setting and then switch it off. The 30 minutes will allow your bed to heat up and trap the warmth.
The heat from the bed and that expelled from your body should keep you warm as you sleep. The auto shut-off feature of some of these blankets lets you time your heating process so that you’re able to enjoy a warm bed and not have to leave your already warmed-up bed to switch it off physically.
If your house is drafty or too cold, you may need to heat your blanket overnight. However, it’s not advisable to run your blanket overnight as it can be hazardous.
There are exceptions to this rule: if your electric blanket comes with a thermostat, temperature gauge and auto-shutoff feature, then you can use it overnight.
Electric blanket vs central heating
Ever experienced a scenario where your furnace is on, but you’re still freezing? Electric blankets can help fix this situation.
An electric blanket is favourable for targeted heating because it warms up a specific area instead of the entire house.
Some parts of your home may not get the warm air from central heating, but you will be cosy and not freeze while sleeping during winter.
The next thing to consider here would be the energy bill. Central heating will cost you a pretty penny because it has to warm up your whole house. If you’re looking to save some money during the not-so-cold months, use electric blankets, even if you’re using electic radiators.
Electric blanket vs a space heater
We have already defined what an electric blanket is. A space heater also provides targeted heating, so instead of heating your entire house, you can move it to the room you’re in.
Space heaters come in different shapes, sizes and price points depending on your preference. Compared to electric blankets, space heaters use more watts, with the average space heater consuming about 750-1500 Watts. More watts means an increased electricity bill.
Other than the wattage, space heaters and electric blankets have similar features, including control settings.
If you were to choose between a space heater and an electric blanket, then go for the electric blanket. You can use your electric throw while moving in different rooms; they are easy to carry either way.
Electric blanket safety
Electric blankets can be prone to damage, and you need to observe some safety measures to keep you safe.
- How to spread your blanket
An electric blanket comes with a controller at the edge of the bed. First, align the blanket so that its controls are at the foot of the bed. This will keep your blanket still and prevent your bed from detaching from the socket.
- Washing your electric blanket
It’s possible to wash your blanket, but you have to protect it against water damage. Remove the controls. The power lead on your blanket is located somewhere at the top of your blanket. The blanket has a flap with a button inside, which exposes a cord that connects to your socket when released. You can choose to either hand-wash or dry-clean the blanket.
- Replace your blanket
Electric blankets can last for a long time, and if kept in good condition, they can stay as long as 10 years. Always check your blanket for damage such as exposed wires, frayed fabric and wires, among other minor damages. Electric blankets can overheat and burn you, so keep watching out for the signs.
- Storing your electric blanket
You may be tempted to fold your electric blanket the same way you fold your other fabric; don’t.
Remember that these blankets have integrated wires that transfer heat, and wires tend to break. Broken wires will not only poke your blanket and damage its fabric, but they may also cause a fire outbreak.
The best way to store your blanket during the summer is by rolling it so that the wires stay intact. While on the bed, ensure that your electric blanket lies flat and if there’s a way to keep it from moving, then do so.
- Check your electric blanket for signs of damage
Damaged electric blankets can turn into fire hazards real quick, so it’s essential to check them regularly for any damage.
The first thing you should check for is frayed or damaged fabric. This kind of damage can expose you to live wires as you sleep. The integrated wires inside are meant to be hidden, and you need to retire your blanket if you can see the wires.
Check for burnt or discovered fabric patches and listen for a strange buzzing noise when your electric blanket is on. Always check the wire that goes to the electric plug, especially if it’s short. Short wires tend to break because of constant pulling, and this may lead to a short circuit.
- Watch out for short cord length
Always check the code length of your electric blanket before purchase because a short cord will be a nightmare.
How to reduce your energy bill
If you’re feeling cold inside your house, then it’s possible that cold air has found its way into your home, and warm air keeps escaping outside. This is especially possible if you already have a heating system such as central heating, a space heater or an electric blanket in place.
You may end up spending more on electricity if you’re using central heating and your heater is always on.
The best way to curb this is by locating possible cold air releasing spaces and covering them. You can also choose to invest in insulation or consider layering up when in the house.
You can also choose to switch to a cheaper tariff during winter.
Electric blankets are an affordable way to keep warm during the cold season. Choosing an efficient blanket will go a long way towards ensuring its durability, and choose an energy-efficient blanket that uses fewer watts relative to its heating settings.
You should be able to choose between a different range of temperature options when using your electric blanket so pick one with a variety of them.
Pick a blanket that offers you maximum comfort and heats up quickly to save you energy. Although there are many safety issues related to these blankets, reading the user manual before using an electric blanket gives you the hang of the dos and don’ts to keep you snug and safe.