If you’re someone who really feels the cold at night, then an electric blanket can be your best friend. Electric blankets are very adept at keeping you warm at night, are much cheaper than an air conditioner and are much more convenient than wearing 40 jumpers to bed.
Not convinced? Then read this buying guide to learn the following about electric blankets:
- How they work
- What sizes they come in
- How much they cost
- How energy efficient they are
- How safe they are
- How to wash them
- Additional features they come with
- And who to buy them from
How do electric blankets work?
Electric blankets are placed in between your mattress and your sheets and heat themselves to keep you warm. They do this by heating an integrated heating device that spreads the warmth throughout the area covered. This heat is distributed by carbon wires spread out in the fabric. For those with double or queen size beds, there are some electric blankets that come with dual controllers, to allow those on both sides of the bed to set their preferred temperatures.
Most above-average-quality electric blankets will have a number of different heat settings you can choose from, ranging anywhere from 1-3 to 1-10. The heat setting is adjusted by using the controller, which can either hang loose or be attached to the mattress itself. Most people find that the highest heat setting is more than enough to keep nice and snug, and can even feel too hot. The general consensus is that the lower settings are perfect for keeping you just warm enough to survive those winter nights.
What sizes do electric blankets come in?
Electric blankets can come in different forms depending on what size bed you have. There are single options, dual options for people who sleep in the same bed, and there are even children’s blankets (which also happen to be waterproof). According to Appliances Online, the dimensions of electric blankets fall within the following ranges:
- 900-2,000mm in width
- 1380-2,030mm in length
So if you’re tall, you might want to make sure you’re getting one on the latter end of the scale! Otherwise your feet will still be cold – and nobody likes cold feet.
In addition to coming in different sizes, there are three different types of electric blankets.
Fitted vs non-fitted electric blankets
Fitted electric blankets are contoured to the shape of your mattress. They remain flat during the night and are generally not as noticeable as non-fitted blankets as they feel the same as the mattress beneath them. Again, you need to make sure that it fits your bed’s dimensions if you choose a fitted electric blanket.
Non-fitted blankets on the other hand are also referred to as ‘tie-down’ blankets. They are called this because they do not fit around the corners of your mattress, but are rather tied down on top of your mattress and generally only cover a portion of it. Non-fitted blankets have the advantage of being cheaper and easier to put on, but don’t give the same level of comfort.
Electric throw blankets
Electric throw blankets are just what they sound like – electric blankets you can carry with you and use around the home, as long as you have access to a power socket. They just resemble a traditional blanket, and are perfect for those rainy days where you just want to sit on the couch and watch TV. They also have the advantage of being cheaper than other heating methods like air conditioners, as they only need to heat a certain space.
How much do electric blankets cost?
Electric blankets in Australia can cost as little as $40, with the majority around the $150 mark. These are obviously for the standard models, while the more advanced ones can cost as much as $500. These expensive blankets generally come with more advanced features and higher quality cotton, but you’d have to determine for yourself if the difference in money is worth the difference in experience.
The initial purchase cost is not the only thing to consider when you buy an electric blanket, because you’ll also need to know how energy efficient they are, as electric blankets can have a big impact on electricity bills. As you would expect, the more expensive electric blankets are often the most energy efficient.
Are electric blankets energy efficient?
Generally, electric blankets consume very little energy. According to Energy Australia, electric blankets consume an average of just four cents worth of electricity an hour, which is much less than other forms of space heaters. Remember that running costs will vary depending on your energy tariff.
For a three month season (i.e. winter) you can expect to pay about $15 for one electric blanket, which will be more if you have multiple running. This figure could be less if your blanket has an energy-saving mode, so really, based on these figures, you’d be mad not to get one!
Are electric blankets safe?
Generally, yes, electric blankets are safe – so long as you take care of them and use them properly. All electric blankets sold in Australia must adhere to Australian Standards, which are safety measures that all electric blanket manufacturers must adhere to. While it is probable that the one you’re looking at qualifies, it can’t hurt to check.
Energy Australia recommends replacing your electric blanket every 10 years, or less if you don’t tightly roll them up during summer when they’re not being used. After every season when you take them off your bed, check them for bent wiring, scorch marks, worn patches or general signs of damage. If you see any of them, replace the blanket. It’s best not to take chances, even though an accident is unlikely.
Make sure you monitor your children’s usage. For young children in particular, it is best if you set the temperature and such for them, due to the control involved. Also, being children, they can forget to turn them (although plenty of adults do that too!).
Most importantly of all, try and avoid leaving them on all night if you can. It’s unnecessary, as they are very good at retaining heat, and being constantly heated can wear them out faster. In 2012, 40,000 electric blankets were recalled, and in extreme circumstances, electric blanket fires have occurred when people leave them on the highest temperature for an extended period of time. However, a lot of electric blankets that meet the required standards turn themselves off if they start to overheat, so try to get one of these models if you can.
Additional electric blanket features to look for
If you’re thinking of buying an electric blanket that is a little fancier, then you can find some that come with a variety of different features. We’ve already mentioned blankets that come with dual controls, 1-10 temperature settings and overheat settings, but there are plenty more that could make your sleep a much better experience.
- Extra-warm foot zone: Who doesn’t like their feet being toasty warm? Some blankets come with these warm foot zones that focus more of their heat into the bottom of the blanket, to keep those tootsies nice and comfortable.
- Illuminated screens: If you forget to turn your electric blanket off before going to bed, it can be agony fumbling around in the dark finding the controls. That’s why certain models come with controls that have an LCD screen that makes it easy to see in the dark, but remains dim enough to not keep you awake.
- Timers: While there are some who feel that it isn’t a good idea to have an electric blanket that can turn on when you aren’t home, there isn’t any danger as long as you put it on a low temperature. Timers can be extremely convenient, as you can set them to come on just before you’re ready to go to bed so you don’t have to do it yourself. Who even likes using their hands anyway?
- Removable controls: Separating the controls from the electric blanket itself means you can safely wash it like you would any other blanket. However, you need to check the instructions that came with your purchase to see if your blanket is compatible with being washed.
Where can you buy electric blankets?
If you’ve decided by now that you want to buy an electric blanket, and know the kind that you’re looking for, then you need to know where to buy them from. The electric blanket industry isn’t a huge one, and there are only a handful of major manufacturers as a result. Here is a review of the major brands:
Sunbeam electric blankets
The brand Sunbeam began in Australia in 1902, and they sell a range of consumer appliances. They do not display their electric blankets on the Sunbeam website, mainly focusing on kitchen appliances, but there are still ways to see what products they stock. Harvey Norman stocks seven different Sunbeam electric blankets, which range in price from $79 to $269 for the more advanced models.
Dimplex electric blankets
Dimplex was founded in 1973, and hold a significant portion of the domestic appliance industry. Their product range contains appliances like air conditioners and underfloor heating as well as electric blankets. Their electric blankets are of a similar price to Sunbeam’s, ranging from $80 to $240.
My Bambi electric blankets
My Bambi are a company that specializes in wool products as quilts, pillows, mattresses and electric blankets. They offer six variations of electric blankets, which will set you back between $100 and $300.
Goldair electric blankets
Goldair have specialised in home appliances for 30 years, particularly heating and cooling products. They offer the largest range of electric blankets you’re likely to find, and most of them offer numerous heat and timer settings. They are also quite cheap by comparison, costing between a measly $29 and $299 for their more advanced model.
Other electric blankets
There are more providers out there that weren’t big enough to warrant a mention in this guide, and we encourage you to look them up yourself to make sure that you’ve assessed all of your options before coming to a conclusion on where to buy from. In addition to buying electric blankets from their manufacturer, appliance stores such as Harvey Norman and The Good Guys also stock them, and they will have staff on hand to answer any of the questions you might have.
Hopefully this has told you enough of the basics for you to make your own informed decision about whether you’ll purchase an electric blanket or not. And if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t feel bothered by the cold, then you should also know that electric blankets are believed to have certain health benefits, such as alleviating back pain and helping with breathing problems in the night. If you bear all of this in mind, then you’ll stand a good chance of buying the best electric blanket for you.