How to buy the best electric blanketby Christina Woodger
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Whatever the weather outside, an electric blanket can make sure your bed stays nice and toasty. Electric blankets - or heated blankets, as they're sometimes called - are fitted with a series of thin electrical wires that heat up your bed when they're plugged into your mains electricity supply, either before you go to bed or throughout the night while you're sleeping.
You can't try one out in the shop, and this is where we can help. We test electric blankets thoroughly to find out how quickly they heat up, how well they distribute heat and how much energy they use. So you won't get stuck with an uncomfortable-feeling blanket that leaves you or your partner out in the cold. Check our our electric blanket reviews to find the best for you.
Underblanket or overblanket?
Electric blankets can typically be separated into two types:
- Overblankets, which sit on top of your duvet and bedding to maintain a constant temperature during the night
- Underblankets or mattress toppers that fit over your mattress to warm the inside of your bed
The type you choose is down to personal preference, depending on how you're planning to use it. Heated throws - also known as electric throws - are available for more flexible use, whether to lay on top of your bedding or to curl up under when you're sitting on the sofa.
What size electric blanket should I get?
Like sheets and bedding, electric blankets come sized to fit different types of beds, making it easy for you to find the right size. You can buy everything from single-sheet blankets for smaller beds, through to king-sized blankets.
How much should I pay?
Electric blankets can range from £18 to more than £70. In general, the more expensive blankets will take less time to heat up and will offer a wider range of temperatures - although that isn't always the case.
Our tests have revealed that you can buy a good electric blanket for between £50 and £60.
To see which models we recommend, see our Best Buy electric blankets.
Features and settings
Check what settings are available with your electric blanket: there's usually more than a simple on/ off switch. You can compare features using our electric blanket reviews, but also look out for:
- timer programs for automatic switch-off after a pre-set time, if you don't want the blanket on all night
- a range of heat settings so you can use it on milder evenings as well as extremely cold ones
- dual controls, so you can heat different sides of a double bed to different temperatures - meaning no disagreements over what the perfect temperature should be
- temperature sensors that allow you to keep your bed at a consistent temperature all night
- machine-washable electric blankets, and those that can be dried in a tumble dryer, making your life much easier
- fitted electric blankets that stay put like a fitted sheet
- easy-to-operate controls.
We look for all of the above and record whether the electric blankets we've tested have them or not. That way, you won't have any nasty surprises when you come to use it.
Are electric blankets suitable for use all night?
Some are suitable for you to leave switched on overnight. Check which models or settings are appropriate for extended use - and always follow the instructions.
Other blankets are designed to quickly heat up a bed before you climb into it, and are switched off afterwards.
As with any electrical appliance, be mindful of safety when choosing and using an electric blanket. Look for the UK safety standard mark (pictured below). This indicates the blanket meets the latest safety standards.
We also recommend that you:
- don't buy a second-hand electric blanket - buy a new one
- don't use an electric blanket if it has exposed wires, scorch marks or discolouration, or if the fabric has worn away
- let the blanket cool after use before folding
- don't use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket, and never use the blanket if it is wet or damp, or if your skin is still damp after a shower or bath
- think about replacing your electric blanket every 10 years, as recommended by the Electrical Safety Council. As an electrical appliance, an old or broken electric blanket should be recycled - find out more in our electrical recycling guide.
Electric blankets are not suitable for use as baby bedding in a cot. According to the Electrical Safety Council, young children should not use electric blankets, either, 'unless the controls have been pre-set by a parent, or you're satisfied that the child is able to use the appliance safely'.
Now find the perfect blanket for you by checking out our electric blanket reviews.
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