Are electric blankets expensive to run?

Clara V.
Clara V.Published on

Keeping warm is a priority for most during the cooler months, and we’re all trying to find ways to keep costs down while doing so.

Using an electric blanket is an economical way to beat the cold, but how much does it cost to run one? And how do heated blankets and throws stack up against space heaters? Knowing the difference can help you stay cosy and keep your electricity bills down.

Even if you have a heater or heating system, there are benefits to using an electric blanket during the colder months. We go through the costs of using an electric blanket, how they compare to using space heaters, and energy-saving features to look for.

A grey electric blanket with a white controller.

Are electric blankets expensive to run?

Energy Australia estimates that it costs around 4 cents an hour to use an electric blanket. Compared to a space heater which can cost up to 15 cents an hour, or an air conditioner which can cost over double that, it’s a pretty cheap way to stay warm. That means it can cost under $20 for the whole season if you use your electric blanket every day.

Does an electric blanket use a lot of electricity?

Generally speaking, electric blankets don’t use much electricity with regular use. Many electric blankets use just 15 to 20 watts on their lowest setting, and 60 to 70 watts on their highest setting. This is significanty lower than most other heating appliances.

Electric blankets vs heaters

Generally speaking, the cost of heating up your room with a heater or heating system will be much more than the cost of turning on your electric blanket for half an hour before you go to bed. However, you should also consider the type of heat you need.

The biggest difference between electric blankets and space heaters is that electric blankets deliver concentrated heat, only keeping those who are in direct contact with the blanket warm. Space heaters, on the other hand, heat an entire room. That means electric blankets are more energy efficient to use, but heaters are more versatile.

That’s why electric blankets are only really useful when it’s bedtime, so you still might want a space heater to stay warm when you’re not hitting the hay. Otherwise, you can also buy heated throw blankets for cheap heat when you’re sitting on the couch.

If you’re still deciding whether you want to use an electric blanket or a space heater to keep warm at bedtime, then we’ve also put together a list of pros and cons to help you make a choice.

Electric blankets and heated throws

Lightweight and travel-friendly.
Economical to run.
Generally inexpensive to buy, although some premium models can cost up to $500.
Easier to store than space heaters in the warmer months.
Silent operation.
Just heats the bed, not the air.
Only provides heat for one or two people.
Can take some time to warm up to the desired heat level.

Space heaters

Lightweight and relatively portable.
Warms the whole bedroom, rather than just the bed.
Usually quick to heat up.
Everyone in the room can feel the warmth.
Can be costly to buy, although you can also find decent lower priced models.
More expensive to run than electric blankets.
More difficult to store than heated blankets.

A woman with dark hair sleeping on a bed with white sheets.

Choosing an efficient electric blanket

  • Compare the energy use of different electric blankets or heated throws on the market.
  • Choose a blanket that snugly fits your bed - fitted electric blankets are usually more efficient (and comfy) than blankets that use string ties.
  • Look for a blanket with energy-saving features like a timer or an overheat protection sensor - this sensor will switch the blanket off if it gets too hot, which saves you getting too toasty and stops you from using excess electricity.
  • A blanket with dual controls lets you independently control the temperature on each side of the bed, so if you’re sleeping alone, you can just heat the side you sleep on.
  • Thick, fleece blankets can help keep you extra warm and comfortable.
  • Only buy an electric blanket that conforms to the Australian Standard 3350.2.17:2000 to ensure it meets Australia's strict safety standards.

How to save on costs while using an electric blanket

  • Use your heated blanket on a low heat setting.
  • Turn the power off at the outlet when you’re not using your blanket.
  • Turn your electric blanket on 10 to 30 minutes before going to bed (but keep in mind that ambient air temperature can affect heat up time), then turn it off once you’re in bed - the residual heat will keep you warm as you’re falling asleep, and if you have a well-insulated doona, this warmth can last all night.
  • Switch off any other heating in your bedroom while using the blanket.

The bottom line

Electric blankets and heated throws are a cheaper way to stay warm than using a heater, air conditioning, or central heating, but they are suited to specific situations. Choosing a safe, efficient blanket and using it in the right way can help you stay warm all winter long - and keep costs down.

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