AC and Heating Tip from AC Express
Stay Cozy at Night with an Electric Blanket
For as much as people love their heaters, we all sometimes wonder how we can manage to use them less. Using your heater less when heating in Austin is one of the best ways you can save money during the winter and doing so will also benefit your heater by sparing it some of the wear and tear it may develop through heavy use. So really, finding ways to use your heater less is the best thing you can do for both your wallet and your heater.
One of the times when our heaters go through the most use is while we’re asleep. This makes sense because at night, when we’re sleeping, we’re home the whole time, the night is at its coldest, and most people want to be warm and cozy while they sleep. All these factors together mean many people are awfully tempted to crank up the heat at night and leave it there all the way until they leave for work in the morning. But there are other ways to stay warm throughout the night that don’t require such heavy use of the heater. One of the best ways is the use of an electric blanket. In this tip we’ll take a look at the many benefits of using an electric blanket for your Austin heating and how to use one safely and efficiently.
What are They and How Do They Work?
The electric blanket is an invention that has its origin way back in 1912. Samuel Irwin Russell invented this device that was inserted underneath the sheets of a bed and produced rising heat via an electrical device. This type of electric blanket, where the blanket goes under the sheets, also referred to as an underblanket or electric mattress pad, is the kind still commonly used in the UK, while in the US the phrase electric blanket generally refers to a blanket with an integrated electrical heating device usually placed above the top bed sheet.
While the origin of the underblanket is well documented, there is some dispute about exactly when the common form of the electric blanket that we see today was first debuted. The first recorded publication of such a unit was in 1930 by Samson United Corporation. However, others claim it was later in 1937 that electric 'over-blankets’, which lie on top of the sleeping person, were introduced in the United States.
So how do they work? The basic principle of warming blankets or warming mattress pads is that an electric current passing through a resistive wire generates heat. All electric bedding contains a long length of resistive wire heating element fastened in a serpentine pattern throughout the pad or blanket. Some electric blankets that are made for larger beds have separate controls for each side of the bed and these types have two sets of wire running through each half.
Of course, for the blanket or pad to be safe, comfortable, even-heating, long lasting and convenient to care for, a whole lot more technology is required. Manufacturers accomplish their various features (e.g. overheat protection, variable heat output, auto-shutoff, etc.) in different ways and this technology plus the fabric used is what makes some products more expensive or more reliable than others.
Benefits of Using an Electric Blanket
To put it simply, the main benefit of using and electric blanket is that you don’t have to rely on your heater to keep you warm while you’re asleep. Some people feel wasteful when they keep their heaters running high all throughout the night, keeping their entire house warm and toasty while they only really need the few cubic feet in their bed to be warm. Even in Austin heating during the winter is a necessity but it can also rack up the bills. The electric blanket is an excellent solution to this problem. In a way it’s a form of heat zoning.
Let’s use some concrete numbers as an example to demonstrate this. Using an electric blanket at night will allow you to turn your furnace’s thermostat down to say 55°F instead of your normal 70°F. This 15°F temperature drop during the 8 hours you are sleeping will save you a significant amount of money, especially if you do it nightly. How will you stay warm in 55°F temperatures? Easy, use an electric blanket. A 90watt electric blanket for example on for 8 hours a day will only cost you $2.20/mo. for each electric blanket in your home, yet will drop your gas bill or electric bill which ever you use for heating your home dramatically.
Not only that, many people who have tried out this technique find themselves really taken to their electric blankets. Having a warm and cozy bed is a luxury that is brought to new heights with the use of an electric blanket that distributes even heat directly to you and your bed. In other words, many people find sleeping with an electric blanket more comfortable than just regular blankets and a heated room.
So to sum up, using an electric blanket can mean lower energy bills, a more comfortable bed, and less use of your furnace leading to less wear and tear. Who wouldn’t want more money, more comfort, and a longer lasting heater?
Electric Blanket Risks
One of the biggest concerns people tend to have about electric blanket is that of safety. And that’s a legitimate concern. Any time you’re dealing with a heating appliance you want to make sure you use it correctly and smartly in order to minimize the risk of an accident and electric blankets are included in that.
But there’s no reason to be overly fearful as electric blanket technology has advanced enough that today there is very little risk of a fire being started. Even still, it’s worth knowing how exactly to use an electric blanket in the most efficient and safe manner.
As far as other risks go, there basically are none. According to the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other government agencies, extremely low-frequency electric and magnetic fields (ELF-EMFs), such as the ones emitted by electric blankets, pose no identifiable cancer risk, cannot damage human DNA and do not lower melatonin levels. That gets those potential myths out of the way.
Even though technology today has made heating appliances like electric blankets safer than ever, there’s always still some fire risk involved. Since the late 1980s, electric bedding in the U.S. has been designed to emit much less heat (older models put out higher wattages and contributed to household fires and other problems). Electric blankets also have many built-in safety features. The most advanced models are programmable to pre-warm a bed at a certain time and shut off a little later. Sophisticated temperature controls can sense changes in the skin and air temperature, adjust settings accordingly and even alert you to a malfunction. Nevertheless, there have been lawsuits claiming faulty design features contributed to short circuits that started fires. A good way to find out if your blanket is safe is to see it's been recalled. The Consumer Product Safety Council has recalled many electric blankets from various manufactures after several cases of minor burns.
How to Use an Electric Blanket
It’s worth inspecting your new electric blanket before you use it just give yourself some peace of mind and rule out potential faults. Most electric blankets feature a similar design, a long, heat-producing wire is stitched throughout the innermost layer. Because these wires must be thin to keep the blanket soft and flexible, they are fairly susceptible to damage. Even if you’ve been gentle, it’s important to inspect your blanket carefully before plugging it in. Look for tears, exposed wires or scorch marks, and discard the blanket if you see any signs of damage. It’s usually not worth the risk of using an electric blanket that has been patched up.
Most experts and manufactures of most types of electric blankets recommended that you don’t keep them turned on and producing heat throughout the whole night while you’re asleep. This is the best tip you can follow to maximize your safety. Some advanced models can turn off the heating element for you on a timer. This can be very helpful. If yours doesn’t do this though, that’s no problem. Just use the blanket to heat up your bed for thirty minutes or so before you get in and then turn it off as you’re getting in to bed to fall asleep.
When you use an electric blanket in this way, consider heating the sheet-covered mattress with the blankets pulled down. After several minutes, pull up the covers and lay down the electric blanket as the top layer. The blankets will trap the heat in the mattress so that the entire bed will feel warm when you get in. Even after you turn the heat off, you may feel the warmth for up to an hour, giving you plenty of time to fall asleep.
When you wake up in the morning unplug the electric blanket. Never fold the blanket but instead roll it up to store and keep it in a safe place free of things that could potentially tear the fabric or damage the wires within. Follow these guidelines and you can achieve superior comfort and energy savings with an electric blanket.
Electric Blankets and Heating Repair in Austin
If you feel the pain of high energy bills in the winter and you’re searching for a way to reduce them without sacrificing your comfort at night then you do well to consider an electric blanket. They provide comfort and warmth while using significantly less energy than heating the whole house with a furnace for the entire eight or so hours you’re sleeping does.
And if you’re ever experiencing any kind of problem with your furnace don’t hesitate to call AC Express. We are an Austin heater repair company that can take care of any issue big or small, from routine maintenance to new heater installation. You won’t find quicker and more thorough heater repair in Austin, even same day heater repair. Call today!
Tip of the Day Archive