Sometimes, central heating is not enough to keep you toasty warm during those long winter months.
Using electric blankets or space heaters are effective ways to boost the temperature in your home.
But whilst both products are designed to keep you warm, they are very different in terms of their cost, features and appearance.
Not sure which one should you invest in?
We compare the cost to run an electric blanket vs a space heater and the pros and cons of each to help you make your decision.
What is an electric blanket?
Electric blankets are powered to provide heat, containing small wires inside the material that heat the blanket when turned on. They can be used as a normal blanket under a duvet or placed inside your duvet cover. Modern electric blankets use thin carbon wires, which is a more energy efficient heating mechanism and will cost you less money to run than older models.
The early use of a type of heated blanket dates back to the early 1900s when an American doctor called Sidney Russell wanted to come up with a solution to keep his patients warm. He devised a blanket that used electrical wires wrapped in insulated metal tape in 1912. By the 1920s, the similar concept of the electric blanket was commercially used again for medical situations and by 1936, a company had produced a heated quilt with a thermostat which turned it on or off based on the room temperature. It was after World War II that the electric blanket we know today was developed.
You can’t beat that feeling of getting into a warm bed at night. Electric blankets are the perfect way to achieve a cosy environment to sleep in when it’s cold outside. But how much do they cost? We will come on to this after we look at an alternative: the space heater.
What is a space heater?
Space heaters are designed to heat small to medium areas. They are portable, which is handy if you’re planning on moving them to a different room. However, some models can be big and bulky. Space heaters are normally powered by electricity, but sometimes they can run on natural gas or fuel oil.
The first electric space heater was invented in 1905 by Albert Leroy Marsh. This was a safer option than the gas-fuelled alternatives that were in use at the time.
Space heaters are available in different sizes and types and some are featured with fans. This is a great addition to have as the heat is distributed more evenly around the room.
If you feel that there is any risk in your house about the space heater being knocked over, it would be recommended to get one with an automatic shut-off feature to prevent a fire from starting.
Electric blanket vs space heater cost
Initial and running costs of an electric blanket
Generally electric blankets are inexpensive to buy. But the price of electric blankets vary depending on the material it is made from, the size, the features, brand and quality. You could pick up a basic electric blanket for around $30, with the more advanced models costing anything up to $200.
Energy consumption will depend on the wattage of your blanket. However, they are typically between 15 and 115 watts. In America, you will be charged around 13 cents per kwh. This means that if your electric blankets consume 100 watts on a low setting and you have it on for 10 hours a day, it will cost you around 13 cents. Your electricity rate may vary depending on which state you live in so it’s always best to check with your energy supplier to be sure.
Initial and running costs of a space heater
Space heaters can vary significantly in terms of price. A small, basic unit with no functionality will cost you around $20, but higher-end, larger units that have energy saving features could cost up to $250. A modern space heater should be cheaper to buy than a wall heater.
The price of running a space heater will depend on the model, which can vary significantly. To work out the electricity costs of your space heater, follow these steps:
1. Find out how much electricity costs you per kWh. You can find this on your last bill.
2. Decide how many hours your space heater will be on each day in the winter months.
3. Calculate the cost by using this formula – Space heater cost per hour = electricity cost (in dollar per kilowatt-hour) * power (in watt) / 1000.
Depending on the cost of your electricity, the average residential space heater will cost approximately $0.20 to run a 1,500 watt unit per hour on a high setting. Lower settings can use considerably less at 750 watts. Let’s compare this to other household appliances.
· Televisions sets can take anywhere from 80 watts to 400 watts to run.
· Computers are built to use up to 400 watts of electricity, but they rarely do.
· The average domestic refrigerator can use anywhere from 100 watts to 250 watts.
· The average dishwasher uses 1,800 watts to run a complete cycle.
· A blender typically uses around 400 watts to operate.
· The average tower fan takes about 100 watts. The average ceiling fan meanwhile uses anywhere from 15 watts to 90 watts to run.
Before investing in a space heater, check the information for the usage information. This will help you make a decision on which will be the most cost effective to run.
So, which is cheaper to run? Ultimately it will depend on the power and the energy consumption of your electric blanket and space heater and how much you pay for electricity. However, based on the examples above, an electric blanket will be slightly cheaper.
Pros and cons to consider
Pros of electric blankets
Improves mood and relieves pain – studies have shown that warmth can calm your body and mind, putting you in a better mood. Heat is a proven way to relieve minor aches and pains by promoting blood flow around your body.
Gives a better night’s sleep – a change in temperature is a reason why you have broken sleep, tossing and turning all night. An electric blanket keeps the temperature in your bed consistent, giving you an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Space – as an electric blanket either replaces a normal blanket or goes inside a duvet cover, there is no additional space needed to accommodate it.
Choice – with the variety of models out there, you can search and select one that suits different colours, fabrics and sizes.
Personal – if you share a bed with a partner who feels they do not need an electric blanket, you can purchase one that has a dual control option meaning that one half can be cooler than the other. This means that both of you can get a great night’s sleep.
Cons of electric blankets
Safety – always check for damaged, frayed or exposed wires in your electric blanket as these could cause a fire. It’s also possible that the blanket could overheat if you fall asleep with it on, causing burns on your skin. You should always turn off the blanket or set a timer to ensure it doesn’t stay on all night. Some models of electric blankets have a handy overheating feature that turns it off once it reaches a certain temperature. Modern electric blankets use lower voltage wiring, which is much safer than older models so always choose the newest appliance possible.
Pets – if you have pets, you will know that they like to chew things. This could cause harm to your pet if they scratch, pull or bite the blanket, making it unsafe to use.
Not washable – the wiring in an electric blanket means that you can’t wash it. This could cause a problem if you suffer from allergies. You can buy a washable cover to put over your electric blanket but this could impact how much heat comes through.
Pros of space heaters
Saves money compared to central heating – whilst they are not designed to replace your main heating source, they are a more cost effective way to boost the temperature in your home. However, older models can be much more expensive to run, so always opt for the newer versions where possible and ideally one with a fan for better heat distribution.
Easy to use – simply plug it in to a room of your choice, set the temperature and let it do its thing. As the room is heated, it means that everyone in the household will benefit from it.
Comfort – a space heater is designed to heat the immediate area, making them great to have in front of you while watching the television. Older people in particular find space heaters an effective way to keep the circulation in their feet going.
Cons of space heaters
Requires thought and attention – there are many factors that affect the output of a space heater. The size, type, power source, maximum temperature and safety features need to be taken into consideration before deciding on which model to buy.
Can only be used in small spaces – due to the limited range of heat they provide, space heaters are only effective in small rooms.
Risk of fire and overheating – space heaters should never be left unattended. Space heaters that overheat are a huge fire risk and should never be left on overnight while you sleep. They can also get really hot, so keep pets and children away from them to prevent burns. It is recommended to get a space heater with an automatic shut off should it be inadvertently knocked over to try and limit a possible fire risk.
Electric blanket energy saving features
It’s worth investing in electric blankets that have built-in features to control the amount of electricity you’re using, saving you dollars on your utility bills. Features include:
Temperature sensors – this handy feature detects the temperature of your room and body, adjusting the heat of the blanket to match the set temperature. This means that the blanket won’t use extra energy once it reaches your ideal temperature.
Timers – some electric blankets have an auto shut-off feature so that if you forget to turn it off and fall asleep, it won’t waste energy.
Dual controls – each half of the blanket is controlled by a different temperature setting, which means that if your partner prefers a cooler setting, you can adjust it so the blanket doesn’t heat the entire bed, costing you less in electricity.
Ways to reduce the cost of running your space heater
Reduce the cost of your space heater with these top tips.
Turn the thermostat down – the lower you set the temperature, the less energy you will use and the lower your electricity bill will be. A space heater with a built-in fan will also heat the room more evenly and quicker too.
Insulate your home – if your home is properly insulated, you won’t need to use your space heater as much because your home will hold heat for longer. Adding insulation around doors and windows will stop heat from escaping. Also consider replacing your doors and windows if they are old and also use draught excluders for any external doors to avoid and cold draughts coming in.
Which one is easier to use?
Whether you opt for an electric blanket or a space heater, you’ll be pleased to know that both are really simple to use. The main key difference is that a blanket will be restricted for use based on where your plug sockets are located and also require body contact whereas a space heater just needs to be turned on and the immediate area in a room is then heated.
So, electric blankets vs space heaters, which one is better?
If you want to heat an entire room, a space heater is the better option but it’s likely that it will cost you more. If you just want to keep warm while watching TV or to keep you snug in bed, an electric blanket is a more cost effective option.
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