What could be more inviting than a warm bed on a cold night? With the UK’s long, chilly winters, many of us can’t do without a hot water bottle or electric blanket to make the climb into bed a bit easier. But while hot water bottles offer a localised heat, an electric blanket will ensure you’re blissfully thawed from head to toe. Indeed, the prospect of jumping into a pre-heated bed on a chilly night is so appealing that you might just start opting for an earlier bedtime.
Electric blankets are having a bit of a comeback. Forget your granny’s old energy-guzzling electric blanket, which was so crudely made that you could feel the bony wires through the bed sheet. Today’s newer models feature much better technology, thinner wires and higher safety standards. They are also a lot cheaper to run than cranking up your heating. In fact, they will allow you to drop your thermostat by a few degrees, or even turn the heating off altogether.
As well as keeping you cosy, electric blankets have other benefits too. The heat they provide will increase blood circulation and help your muscles to relax. This can alleviate any muscle tension, stiffness or pain from arthritis. A number of studies show the effectiveness heat can have in healing a variety of conditions. Share a bed with your partner? Many models come with dual controls that will allow you both to determine your own individual temperature on each side of the bed.
How do electric blankets work?
They contain thin electrical heating wires that have been placed into the fabric. The blanket is placed in between your mattress and bottom bed sheet. When you plug the blanket into your electricity supply they heat up, warming the blanket and your bed.
They feature an attached control unit (between the blanket and the electrical outlet) that you use to turn it on and off. This adjusts the amount of heat it produces and how long it stays on for.
Modern electric blankets have a shut-off mechanism, which prevent the blanket from overheating or catching fire. Do not use a blanket that pre-dates 2001 as it may not contain this shut-off mechanism, so it may run the risk of overheating.
Tip: Always check the cord is long enough to reach the nearest plug socket, or you may need to use an extension lead.
How much do electric blankets cost to run?
The price you pay for an electric blanket will depend on your usage. It can either be kept on all night on a low setting, or used for a short amount of time before you get into bed.
Energy Helpline tested a 60 watt and a 70 watt blanket for seven hours a night over six months, which is as much as you’re likely to use the blanket for. The annual cost for the 60 watt was £14.60 (8p a night) and £16.42 for the 70 watt – (9p a night). This is about the same cost as leaving the landing light on.
Best electric blankets
1. Dreamland Cotton Heated Mattress protector – best for a quick heat-up time
This economical electric blanket from Dreamland costs as little as 1p per night to run for seven hours. It fits like an elasticated fitted sheet, so it is really easy to throw on your bed. It hugs the mattress really well with a generous 38cm deep skirt. Made from 200-thread-count cotton, it is soft to the touch, breathable, and the deep quilted finish makes it feel all the more luxurious.
The pièce de résistance is the addition of dual controls so you and your partner can pick your own setting. If they’re ever away you only need to heat up your own side of the bed. It features a very handy ‘Ready For Bed’ five-minute pre-heat button. Turn this on before you clean your teeth, wash your face etc, and by the time you’re prepped for bed it will be ready for you.
In addition, it comes with a choice of five different heat settings which you can select for just 1 hour as you nod off. It can even stay on all night, for nine hours. After your chosen time, it automatically shuts off.
If you do opt for the all-night setting, it cleverly detects and responds to any temperature changes whilst you sleep. Available in all sizes from single through to super king with dual controls available from the double size up. This electric blanket can be washed at 40 °C and tumble dried on a low setting.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
2. Lakeland luxury fleece fitted electric blanket – best for cosiness
This cosy, fleecy electric blanket feels like you’re lying on a giant teddy bear. There is no need to faff around with fiddly ties, thanks to the handy elasticated skirt that you can easily stretch over your mattress to fit.
With a fast preheat button, your bed can reach 37 degrees in five minutes. There are also five different heat settings, ranging from minimal heat to ultra warm for very cold nights. There is also a graduated foot warmth to keep your toes nice and toasty.
Opt to keep it on for 1 or 9 hours after which the auto shut-off kicks in. The dual controls are a bonus, too giving you the freedom to control the heat on your side of the bed. The premium fleece is 100 per cent polyester and is machine washable and tumble-dryer safe.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
3. Beurer Anti Allergy Electric Under-Blanket – best for allergy sufferers
Allergy and asthma sufferers will sleep soundly at night with this electric blanket. It’s been purposefully designed to protect against house dust mites, bacteria and mould growth. The combination of heat and the hypoallergenic breathable fabric creates a hostile environment, preventing any bad stuff from settling in.
There are six temperature settings to choose from, including a pre-heat option where you can feel the warmth within just eight minutes. There is also an anti-allergy heat boost. Keep the heat running for 1, 3, 6, or 12 hours and after your chosen time, the auto switch off function kicks in.
The soft and breathable cotton finish is easy to fit with a deep elasticated skirt to keep it securely in place. The blanket is very comfortable to lie on with no unexpected lumps and bumps. You can opt for dual controls from the double size up to a super king.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
4. Livivo Deluxe electric underblanket with dual LED controller – best for value for money
Fitting securely to your mattress with the elastic skirt, this electric blanket really is great value for money. It has ultra-thin, non-obtrusive wires and dual controls from the double size up, allowing you to heat both sides of the bed independently.
It takes virtually no time to heat up and comes with five pre-set temperatures (ignore the description online, which says three). There are also pre-set times of 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours, with a build-in overheat protection system.
The digital LED controllers are really easy to use and come with an on/off switch, a temperature, timer and cancel button. They are easily detachable too so you can machine wash the blanket safely at 40 degrees.
Overall, the performance and flexibility are great. And as you nod off and enjoy your warm bed, you can feel safe in the knowledge that this is a thrifty yet reliable buy.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
5. Morphy Richards Fleece washable heated underblanket – best for keeping feet warm
Costing from as little as 2p per night to run, this cosy fleece electric blanket comes with 4 different heat levels with extra heat at the foot of the bed for keeping your toes toasty warm. The fleece feels really snuggly and soft to the touch, a bit like lying on a sheepskin rug.
This one doesn’t offer maximum coverage like the mattress protector versions, so to fit you need to attach the tie cords at all four corners of the bed. The wires are ultra-thin, so you certainly won’t notice these through the fluffy fleece.
It does take a little while to heat up (approx. 15-20 minutes) so you just need to plan ahead a bit. But once the heat starts flowing, you can keep it on all night if you wish. Just be warned – you may find it harder to get out of your toasty bed the next day.
For peace of mind, it comes with a built-in protection system which means it will automatically switch off when it gets to a temperature that is considered higher than comfortable. This blanket is machine washable at 40 degrees and tumble dryer safe.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5
6. Silentnight comfort control electric blanket – best for a low budget
The Silentnight electric blanket is not designed to fit to the edges of the mattress. Instead, it comes with ties that neatly wrap around the four corners instead, keeping it securely in place. It is a bit of a fiddle to set up and if you’re looking for full bed coverage, then this might not be your first choice.
That said, it is a good option if you just want to use an electric blanket occasionally and don’t feel the need to splash out on a top-of-the-range model. You have three heat settings to choose from, and there is an auto shut-off function, which means the built-in thermal fuse will shut down if it detects a hot spot or a fault in the wiring.
Made from polyester, it is not very soft to the touch and it could do with a bit more padding as the wires do stick out a little. However, this blanket is memory-foam compatible.
An added perk is you can also control your Silentnight electric blanket (and other home electronics) with the Silentnight App and Wi-Fi plug. Wherever you are you can use your smartphone to switch the blanket on or off, and even set the timer so it’s warmed up and ready for when you get in. Genius!
Ideal Home’s rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
7. Slumberdown electric blanket – best for focused heat
This electric blanket comes with a removable, deep-filled velvety comfort layer, so before you even switch it on it feels super snuggly and warm. With wide elastic corner straps at both ends, it is easy to fit and requires minimal lifting of the mattress. The controls have long leads, too, which makes it easy to connect.
It comes with dual controls and nine different heat settings with an extra foot warmth function. This means you can adjust the heat for your feet separately – a nice option if you wear bed socks or you like to rest your feet on a cosy hotty.
It also features multi-zone heating areas which means you can activate a different heat setting on each quarter of the bed. Handy! Everything about this electric blanket feels good quality and it offers plenty of flexibility with the added option to heat different areas of the bed. It comes with a neat zipped container for storing when not in use.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
How safe are electric blankets?
Although they are far less hazardous than ones used 20 years ago you still need to use them properly. Never use an electric blanket if you’re sharing your bed with a small child or pet. The Fire Service lists the following safety instructions:
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
- Only use a blanket that has the UK Safety Standard mark
- Never use an electric underblanket as an electric overblanket, and vice versa
- Keep all blankets flat – make sure there is no crumpling that could hold any excess heat
- Only leave a blanket switched on all night if it has thermostatic controls for safe all-night use.
- Don’t get blankets wet, and if your blanket does get wet, don’t use it. Never switch it on to dry it.
- Always turn off at the mains when not in use.
How do I clean an electric blanket?
It’s nice to have a blanket that is as clean and fresh as it is warm. Always check the manufacturers instructions first, but most can be washed in the machine at 40 degrees using a mild detergent. Just make sure you detach the controls first!
Some can even be tumble dried, but never use your electric blanket until it is completely dry or you could damage the wiring. Never iron your electric blanket.
What else should I know before buying an electric blanket?
- How often should I replace my electric blanket? You should replace your electric blanket at least every 10 years. If you are ever in doubt about the condition, bin it and buy a new one – never buy one second-hand.
- What are the fabric options? They are typically made from polyester, fleece or cotton and really it comes down to personal preference. Polyester is more affordable and durable but less breathable than cotton. Choose fleece for an all-round cosy experience.
- What if I suffer from allergies? There are plenty of anti-allergy options out there. Made from specially-made hypoallergenic fabrics combined with the blanket’s heat, they create a hostile environment for any dust mites.
- Can you feel the wires? You really shouldn’t. The wires used these days are very thin and flexible.
- Can you use an electric blanket with a memory foam mattress? It’s not ideal as memory foam reacts to your own body heat. The blanket will act as a barrier between your body and the mattress, which will prevent the mattress from moulding to your body properly. However, there are some models out there that are compatible.
- How hot do electric blankets get? The average minimum temperature is around 25°C (the lowest is 18°C). The average maximum is 48°C (the highest is 56°C).
- How should I store my electric blanket when not in use? Always roll your electric blanket as folding could damage the wires.