How much does an electric blanket cost to run? Ballpark figures to compare with central heating

An electric blanket could help you save money on your energy bills, but how much, exactly, do they cost to run? This bedding expert breaks down the figures

A brown themed bedroom with a double bed dressed with comfy cushions and a brown faux fur blanket
(Image credit: Albion Nord )

How much does an electric blanket cost to run? As the colder weather sets in, it's clear that summer has well and truly disappeared in our rearview mirror. Household debates over the acceptable temperature to switch on the heating have probably already begun, but with energy bills at an all-time high, will an electric blanket help you save money, or will they set you back even more? 

Many of us are already long-time electric blanket users, and who can blame us? Is there anything better than crawling into a toasty warm bed under an electric blanket at the end of a long day, while wind and rain batter at your window? Electric blankets are the best way to warm your bed during the depths of winter (and they're way more effective than hoards of hot water bottles), and after the recent hike in energy costs, more people are turning to them as a cost-efficient way of keeping us warm. 

But since we're all looking for ways to reduce bills and save on energy, how much does an electric blanket cost compared to using your central heating? If you're prepared to give your thermostat a break by turning down the heaters in your bedroom, here's a rough guide to how much an electric blanket will cost you instead.  

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She's committed to helping readers make the best choices in their homes through writing practical tips and guides to help them save a little extra money. For this piece she spoke with a top bedding expert to learn how much it costs to run an electric blanket and how they could save you money. 

How to calculate the cost of running an electric blanket 

a bedside table with a bedside lamp and storage areas in a room at The Royal Senses

(Image credit: The Royal Senses)

If you're looking to buy an electric blanket (like this cozy choice from Amazon (opens in new tab)), or perhaps you're keen to dust off the electric blanket you never used last year, we've asked some experts how you can work out their energy cost. 

To calculate how much it will cost to run an electric blanket, you first need to understand the cost per unit of electricity. According to the most recent data from Save on Energy (opens in new tab), the average residential electricity rate in the U.S. is around 15.42 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

'An electric blanket generates heat by running electricity through wires in the fabric,' says Hayley Thistleton, bedding expert at Sleepseeker (opens in new tab). 'Each electric blanket will have a different power rating and the overall cost will depend on the rating on your blanket’s label.'

As an approximate estimation of power we'll use 100W, as this is most common for an electric blanket. 'First, you need to convert to kW. 100W is 0.1kW (or 100 divided by 1000),' says Hayley. 'Then you simply need to multiply this by the cent/kWh unit.' This would be: 0.1*15.42 = 1.542. 

This means that running an electric blanket for one hour would cost just over 1.5 cents (in September 2022). Based on this, running an electric blanket overnight will cost you around 12 cents (based on 8 hours of use), which is significantly cheaper than having your central heating on all night. Making these two additional changes to your bedding could also help save on your energy bills this winter.

HOW TO LOOK AFTER AN ELECTRIC BLANKET

1. Wash semi-regularly and spot clean stains 

A neutral bedroom with a small bedside table, oblong shaped lamp base with a cream shade

(Image credit: Lights & Lamps)

Knowing how to look after an electric blanket isn't always easy. In most cases, you can't just chuck it in on a quick spin with the rest of your sheets. As is the case with how often you should wash your bed sheets, an electric blanket really depends on how often you use it, and whether you sleep under it or simply use it to heat your bed. 

However, since an electric blanket doesn't touch your skin, it doesn't need to be washed as regularly as your usual sheets. 'Ideally, you should wash your electric blanket approximately every few weeks, or once a month minimum,' says Hayley. Always check the tag to see the manufacturer's cleaning advice first. 'If the washing machine safe symbol is listed, you should ensure the blanket is unplugged and wash on a gentle cycle in cool to warm water using a mild detergent,' Hayley adds. 

For tougher stains, you should spot clean your electric blanket - never use a hot, vigorous washing machine cycle in an attempt to move stains. As before, make sure it's unplugged first before blotting with a damp cloth. 'Use a butter knife or anything with a thin blunt edge to carefully scrape and remove any food or drink from the fabric,' advises Hayley. 'For a more stubborn stain, rub a mild laundry detergent on the area to lift it, before removing with a damp cloth.' 

2. Dry gently 

There are several things you should know when it comes to drying your electric blanket, too. You might be surprised to learn that most modern varieties are safe to be used in a tumble drier, but you should always check the tag for advice. 

'If safe for machine drying, set the dryer to a low heat setting for around 10-15 minutes before taking it out and evenly hanging on a drying rack to finish drying,' says Hayley. 'If your dryer does not have a low heat setting, skip this step and simply air dry the blanket from the start as high temperatures can damage the electric wiring inside the blanket.' 

If it's a warm day, it's safest to air dry your electric blanket by hanging it evenly from a washing line (avoid folding it if you can). As Hayley explains, you should never dry clean an electric blanket as the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process can damage the blanket's wiring and heating system.

White bedroom, wood framed bed, assorted throws and blankets including sheepskin rug

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

3. Store flat or rolled, never folded

Although it might seem like a while away before you can start thinking about storing your electric blanket away for another year, there's an important storage hack you should be aware of for when the time comes. 

'Before storing, wash and dry the blanket, ensuring it is completely dry before storing,' says Hayley. This way you'll be met with a beautifully fresh blanket once the weather turns cold again. 

Most importantly though, you should always try and store an electric blanket flat or rolled, rather than folded. As Hayley explains: 'This is because harsh folds can damage the inner wires' Pack it away in a cool, dry place making sure the controls and cords are unplugged. 

Are electric blankets safe?

While some of us can't imagine life without a toast electric blanket to snuggle up in during the winter, general opinions are divided. Warned of the dangers of electricity, heat and synthetic fibers as a kid, many of us are still skeptical about their safety. 

If you're wondering whether electric blankets are safe to use, the short answer is yes, and they're one of the easiest ways to make your house feel warmer. These clever pieces of kit undergo lots of testing and will always meet the regulations of your area, as long as you buy from a trusted manufacturer. However, they aren't designed for prolonged use. 

'Electric blankets are designed to create a warm and cozy environment when getting into bed, but they're not recommended for overnight use and should be turned off when getting into bed or set on a timer to turn off within a short while,' says Hayley. 'Make sure to also use your electric blanket as the top layer, above any other blankets or duvets and do not lie or sit on it.'