In Praise of Electric Blankets

Photo by Ivan Obolensky on

I have been an electric blanket owner for several years now. After my wife, my electric blanket is the number one thing in my life I can’t live without during the winter. I could make do without forks, without a TV, without matching socks, but I don’t think I could get through the winter without the potential for a warm bed to crawl into at the end of the day. With snow already falling and showing up in the five day forecast, I enjoy nothing more than the thought of retiring to the soft, toasty magic delivered by some thin wires and fabric as the world freezes beyond my window.

Now days we turn down the thermostat (which is already set low) when we go to bed. I spend all day wearing a fleece lined hoodie and wrapped up in a wool blanket. Unfortunately, I have to leave my nice warm and toasty cocoon occasionally during the day. I then rush back and wrap myself up again like a swaddled baby.

I admit I really didn’t like the idea of an electric blanket. My phobia might have come from watching too much TV where a victim was killed by their murderous electric blanket. After a while though, it became clear to me that I would not be killed by my electric blanket if I used it properly.

Don’t tangle or fold the blanket up when it is on. Make sure it is flat on your bed or couch. Don’t wrap up in the blanket like a mummy and then try to see if you can get to the bathroom without unplugging the cord. At the very least, turn your blanket off when you go to sleep or put it on a timer just to be safe. There are several timers that plug in the wall outlet for turning lights on and off that are suitable.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (, a nonprofit based in Rosslyn, Virginia that researches electrical safety in North America, reported over 370,000 house fires occur annually and that electric blankets and heating pads combined only caused around 500 of these. According to them “almost all of these fires involve electric blankets that are more than 10 years old.”

I suggest you use a sharpie to write the date that you purchased it on your blanket and throw it away after about 8 years just to be safe. People new to using electric blankets really shouldn’t fear them, just as long as they’re using them properly and didn’t get them from a yard sale with the wires poking out. You are more likely to have a house fire from cooking or a candle according to FEMA. The only thing most users are in danger of is turning it up too high and waking up in a sweat.

Nevertheless, electric blankets’ unjust reputation remains. The electric blanket is an irrationally silly device, something I had associated with bad ideas from the 1970s, like avocado kitchen appliances and shag carpeting.

There is nothing worse in the winter than crawling into bed and then just lying there, trying to warm up your sheets. Prior to using an electric blanket, going to sleep used to be a nightmare (pun intended). It required me to find the thickest flannel pajamas I could find and crawling under 15 layers of blankets and comforters. I would then curl into a fetal position and shiver to warm my pocket of air under the blankets that I would lose instantly if my wife got out of bed.

The best part about an electric blanket is that they only warm your bed, not the whole room or the whole house. Central heating warms the actual air of a room, it also dries it out and makes your nose stuffy. You might even save some money by using an electric blanket rather than keeping the heat on high overnight. And in drafty homes or apartments they’re all the more essential for comfort, and far safer than a space heater.

If you and your partner happen to disagree on what is a satisfactory level of heat, and I know my wife and I do, there are quite a few blankets with dual controls that allow you to control your side of the bed. And if you sleep alone, that’s an even better reason to buy an electric blanket.  They are particularly nice when you sleep alone.

Sure, there’s still an undeniable ridiculousness to having an electric blanket, the ultimate luxury, but our winters are cold and long and with winter just getting started, we have already had snow. There are many, many cold Western New York nights ahead before we see the leaves on the trees again. When you get in bed tonight, think about how nice it would be to slide between nice warm sheets and then go out and buy an electric blanket.

Just turn it on about an hour before you go to bed, then turn it off when you get in and you’ll be nice and warm.