Are electric blankets more cost effective than central heating?
The cost of heating a home is still a challenge for many – but how do the alternatives stack up? Is having an electric blanket a more affordable way to stay warm in winter? Read on and we’ll explain.
How much does an electric blanket cost?
Electric blankets are available as underblankets for beds, or as throws which you can use to wrap yourself up in or lie beneath on the sofa. An underblanket costs from £30 to over £100 depending on its size and features such as a timer and different heat settings. Throws cost from £50.
At the time of writing, the Energy Price Cap sets electricity prices at 27.35p per kWh, although providers are now offering deals at lower cost. If, for example, you have an electric blanket that uses 100W per hour, which works out at 0.1kWh, you’ll pay just 2.7p an hour to use it. So putting it on for two hours when you go to bed will come in at a little over 5p per day.
It’s likely that using cooler settings will cost even less. This is something to consider if you want to ‘heat the person not the room’ and avoid heating rooms you are not using.
Read our guide on how to keep your home warm in winter
How much does an electric heater cost?
How much an electric heater costs to run comes down to what kind of heater you have. A fan heater, which is a small and common device, uses around 2kW an hour. With UK prices set at 27.35p per kWh between October and December 2023, that means about 66p an hour to run on a standard meter.
Remember, some suppliers offer deals below the current Energy Price Cap, so check how much you pay so you can get an exact price for running an electric heater.
How much does central heating cost?
The cost of gas dropped to 6.89 per kWh when the Energy Price Cap for October to December 2023 came into force. The wholesale cost of gas has dropped from its peak in 2022, and although it remains high, energy providers are offering deals below the price cap.
Boilers use around 24kW every hour. Multiplying that figure by 6.89 comes to around £1.65 per hour. However, that cost means running heating throughout your home. Running the heating for four hours a day therefore adds up to £198 per month. You can ease that cost by lowering the temperature of your boiler and turning off radiators when you don’t need to heat a specific room.
The Energy Saving Trust recommends only turning on your heating when you need it. You can save money by installing insulation in your loft or walls and draft proofing doors and windows to prevent heat from escaping. However, you should also consider leaving your heating on low for longer if condensation is an issue where you live, as turning heating on and off can lead to the walls conducting more heat when condensation builds up after you’ve turned the boiler up.
It may be a good idea to invest in a smart meter, as you can then control your heating in each part of the home via your smartphone.
Will an electric blanket save me money?
An electric blanket may save you money from day to day, as you’ll only use it when you need it and the overall cost is lower than paying for central heating.
However, it’s difficult to compare like-for-like. You may not find you can easily replace central heating with using a blanket.
Central heating warms up entire rooms – or your entire home – while a blanket only warms the person or the bed. An electric blanket doesn’t warm up the air in the room, which can contribute to health problems and the growth of mould and damp in your home.
It’s worth remembering that there are government schemes available for those struggling to pay for much needed heating in winter, including the Warm Home Discount, the Winter Fuel Payment, and the Cold Weather Payment.
You can read our Energy Saving Tips too.