On a frosty winter evening, every little bit of heat helps, and it's especially important to feel warm and snug in your bed so you can get a good night's sleep. One option to help ward off the wintertime chills and experience supreme comfort when you crawl into bed is an electric blanket. In addition to the added warmth, many people even find that electric blankets help with certain medical ailments such as arthritis symptoms or period pain. The added warmth may even help you save on your heating bill. Read on for answers to questions about how do heated blankets work, what costs you can expect, and an exploration of the safety concerns around electric blankets.
Although they appear and act as bedding, electric blankets fall under the category of household appliances, because they plug into the wall and draw electricity from your circuits. Small, thin wires run through the fabric, carrying heat which warms up the blanket and promptly transfers to you. Don't worry about the wires poking you– in a blanket of any quality, they are thin enough and enmeshed in thick enough fabric that you shouldn't ever feel them. Aside from the heat, the blanket shouldn't feel any different than a standard, non-electrified piece of bedding. Many blankets can even be thrown in the washing machine – after you remove the plastic temperature dial, of course.
Heated blankets aren't one-size-fits-all, either. A wealth of options on the market offer models featuring variations such as fabric, size, texture, weight, the number of heat settings and dual-temperature settings for people who share a bed. Modern electric blankets even offer the option to program the heat to warm up the bed before you climb in, and automatic shutoffs so you don't waste electricity all night once you're already snoozing comfortably under your warm pile of bedding.
You might be worried about the prospect of shelling out a lot of money for an electric blanket, but fortunately these nighttime sleeping aids typically don't break the bank. There are numerous types available to suit nearly any price range, with smaller models available for under $20 from certain retailers, all the way up to $300 or more for fancier options.
As an added monetary incentive, you may be able to cut back on your heating bills if you are able to knock your thermostat down several degrees while you sleep under the comfy heated blanket. Instead of paying to warm up your entire house, you're only on the hook for the electricity providing heat directly to your body.
If you choose to supplement your bedding with an electric blanket, you may be pleasantly surprised by the associated energy costs. According to an Energy Savers booklet produced by the U.S. Department of Energy, an electric blanket is among the very least expensive home appliances you can use. Another DOE report found that the typical energy costs for an electric blanket are around $17.60 annually, compared to a $66 average for using a space heater.
Those are averages, of course. It's challenging to calculate exactly how much electricity an electric blanket will use in your household because they have many different heat settings and consumption will depend on how and how long you use it. Typically speaking, heated blankets should use 100 watts or less of electricity even on the highest setting, or twice that if it's double-sided, and shouldn't cost you more than a few dimes per night in electricity consumption at the most. That sure beats the expense of bumping your thermostat up. Special low-voltage blankets use even less electricity, although they tend to cost a little more up front and don't get quite as warm as standard models.
It can be a bit disconcerting to bring an electric device into bed with you, and it is possible for your blanket to overheat if you don't take the proper precautions. Fortunately, you have little to fear if you follow a few electric blanket safety tips:
If you take care of your electric blanket, and exercise good judgment when using it, it can provide a toasty and inexpensive way to get a warm and restful night of sleep.