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Things you may not know about electric blankets

By Christina Woodger

Whether you already own an electric blanket or are debating buying one, here are some facts about electric blankets that you may not know. 

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From whether you can use an electric blanket with a memory foam mattress, to whether you can lend yours to your dog, our experts answer your questions.

How do electric blankets actually work?

Electric blankets contain thin electrical wires. When you plug the blanket into your mains electricity supply, the electrical wires heat up. 

How hot do electric blankets get?

All the electric blankets we've tested have at least two different heat settings and a few have as many as nine. Their minimum temperatures tend to be around 25°C (the lowest is 18°C), while the average maximum is around 48°C (the highest is 56°C). 

Are electric blankets expensive to run?

No. Using the most energy-efficient blanket in our test for two hours a day, every day for half a year, would cost just £2.99. In general, electric blankets aren't hugely expensive to run: the least energy-efficient we've tested would cost £8.06 to run for this time.

Find out more about our tough tests - see how we test electric blankets

Would I just be better off with a hot water bottle?

They're not really comparable. A hot water bottle offers localised heat, whereas an electric blanket should warm you all over. If you do own a hot water bottle, put it under the covers at the top of the bed to warm the bedclothes while you go and brush your teeth. Then, when you get into your now cosy bed, move it down to keep your feet warm. 

A hot water bottle will cool down over time, but an electric blanket should stay warm until it's due to switch off. If this sounds good to you, then check out our expert advice on how to buy the best electric blanket.

Can I use my electric blanket with a memory foam mattress?

Although there are no known safety issues with using an electric blanket and a memory foam mattress, manufacturers often advise against it. This is because the blanket will act as a barrier between your body and the memory foam, preventing the memory foam moulding to your body and making it much less comfortable. Over time, the heat from the blanket also has the potential to damage the memory foam. 

Some manufacturers say it's fine to use the two together. But there must always be a sheet or cover between the foam and the blanket, and the blanket must not be left on all night (we wouldn't advise leaving an electric blanket on all night anyway). 

Can I use an electrical blanket for my dog?

It's important to keep dogs warm in winter, but you shouldn't give your electric blanket to your dog. 

A Dogs Trust spokesperson said: 'Dogs Trust would discourage pet owners from using an electric blanket on their dog’s bed. Whilst many pet owners may view an electric blanket as an ideal way to keep their dog warm, it could stop a dog from being able to regulate their body temperature, particularly if a dog sleeps in a crate or enclosed bed'. 

Instead, purchase a sensible winter blanket for your dog. And, if possible, let his or her coat grow. 

Now you know a bit more about electric blankets, find out which one is best for you - see our electric blanket reviews. Looking for other ways to stay cosy in winter? Then find out if you should install a wood burning stove or if you can cut your energy bills with a smart thermostat.

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