Fancy jumping into a warm and toasty bed on a freezing winter night? Us too – that's why CHOICE experts recently put 36 electric blankets to test in our labs to find out which one performed the best. Not only are electric blankets a saving grace for those of us with perpetually chilly feet, they're also cost-efficient to run and, when operated following instructions, safe to use.
When testing, our experts look at factors such as how fast different electric blankets will warm your bed, how comfortable they are to sleep on and how easy they are to clean, plus any safety issues. And they have all the answers to any burning questions you have about whether an electric blanket is right for you, plus some solid reasons to buy one.
Electric blankets are not complicated products. They're just, well, blankets with integrated wires that heat up the fabric they are contained within to transfer heat to your body while you're resting in bed.
Some have more complicated wiring configurations with fancy features such as multi-zone heating technology (if you want your feet to be warmer than your mid-section for example) or 'smart connectivity' (in case you want to turn your blanket on using your smartphone from the living room), but essentially they all do the same thing, and they do it well.
All the electric blankets we tested in our recent electric blanket review were able to reach a temperature of 40 degrees within 16 minutes, with most achieving that temperature within 10 minutes or less, some in as little as two minutes! So, if it's a toasty bed you're after, they've got you covered.
With electricity prices about to go up even further and many of us struggling to stay on top of household bills, an electric blanket could be a good option to help you stay warm when compared to how costly and inefficient electric heaters can be (particularly if you're running them all night).
Our calculations show that even if you run your electric blanket on low for eight hours each day, it'll only cost you up to $50 for the whole winter. But running an electric heater for that time will add a couple of hundred dollars or more to your power bill.
You can check the running costs of all the products we tested in our electric blanket reviews.
A timer is a handy feature to have on your electric blanket.
Our tests have shown modern electric blankets are safe, but where electricity is involved there's always a small risk, and accidents can happen. To make sure the model you're looking at buying is safe, visit the www.eess.gov.au and go to 'Search Electrical Equipment'. Electric blankets should have a regulatory compliance mark to show that they meet Australian standards. If you can't find one on the model you're interested in, give it a miss.
- Running time: Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use – for example, some manufacturers advise their products should not be left on overnight while others deem it safe. We always exercise caution with products here at CHOICE, so we advise that it's better to not use the blankets overnight (or always just use it on a short timer), and that they definitely shouldn't be used by young children.
- Electrical safety: If you see any issues with the condition of the electrical cord or controls, stop using it straight away.
- Pacemakers: Electric blankets are safe to use for people with pacemakers, according to the UK NHS, but this could vary from person to person (and could depend on which brand of pacemaker you are using), so it's best to check with your health professional.
While it may seem unwise to throw an electrical appliance into the washing machine, some electric blankets are actually washable (once you've removed the controllers of course).
Some blankets we tested (such as the Kmart Anko electric blanket topper for $75) have a removable cover that makes it easy to clean, and also likely to extend the life of your blanket as it potentially won't get as grubby. Most need to be line-dried, but some are suitable for tumble drying – just double-check the instructions before you put them in the dryer.
When we calculate the 'ease of use' score in our electric blanket reviews, we take into account how easy they are to clean.
All the blankets we tested have dual settings, so if your partner has a tendency to overheat, you can both adjust the temperature to suit your preference. Most blankets have different heat settings, although some have more adjustable levels than others – the most basic models usually have three or four while the more expensive blankets can have up to six levels, which means you can customise them more to the heat you prefer.
Some blankets such as the Sunbeam Sleep Perfect Electric Blanket have timers which means you can heat the blanket up and program it to turn off after a few hours when you've drifted off into a cosy snooze.
Whether you're a new electric blanket adopter (welcome to the fan club), you're replacing an older blanket or buying more for other people in the family, the good news is that there are options are every budget, from around $60 for a double electric blanket from Goldair up to $469 for the Sunbeam Wool Fleece Electric Blanket.
Factors that will influence the price are things such as brand, material and how many bells and whistles the blanket has (if you've always dreamt of a blanket that connects to your Wi-Fi for example, check out the Breville BodyZone electric blanket).
CHOICE expert Adrian Lini says, "We tested several cheaper products that performed just as well as or outperformed more expensive blankets so you can get a decent electric blanket without having to spend a fortune."As well as price though, my advice would be to look at a blanket that has a removable cover to make washing easy, and a timer, which is a really handy feature."
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.