New Zealand is deep in the midst of a cost of living crisis at the very same time cold weather is whipping around the country and sending power bills soaring.
Winter still has more than a month to go and consecutive cold nights could leave Kiwis battling to stay warm, given many - particularly the elderly and vulnerable - can't afford to properly heat their homes amid mounting energy costs.
"You get a power bill over $100 it takes a fair whack on your [superannuation]," said Grey Power Central spokesperson Lew Findlay. "They don't turn their heaters on, they'd rather wrap up in the blanket… and go to bed early just so they can save power," Findlay told RNZ's Checkpoint in May.
Some people keep warm in winter by using what many would consider a luxury - an electric blanket. But given how much they cost to run (very little), could they act as an essential heating source and money saver, at the same time?
Breaking it down
What might not be known is how little it costs to run an electric blanket. Especially when you compare it to, say, an electric heater.
The Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA) broke down the costs for Newshub.
A 100W electric blanket would use a grand total of 10c over four hours. (Side note: Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) recommends turning your electric blankets before going to sleep - but it only takes between 10 and 30 minutes on a medium setting for average blanket to heat up).
Still, even if a family of four each had an electric blanket and used it for four hours a night in the middle of winter (say, the month of July) - the parents won't have to panic too much when they read the power bill at the end of the month. It's only going to add $12.40 to the power bill for the whole month, or $36.40 for the whole of winter.
Choose a 2.4kw heater instead? It's going to cost you come the month's end and winter's conclusion.
That 2.4kw heater your parents insisted you needed for your freezing cold Dunedin flat will cost you about $2.40, should you keep it running for four hours during the night, EECA said. So, a full night will set you back just under $5.
That's $16.80 a week if you leave the heater on for four hours, or $33.60 over seven days if you leave it on for eight hours.
Leave it on four hours a night for the whole month of July? That's going to set you back nearly $70.
By reading this, you now know which heating source is the real bargain.
FENZ electric blanket safety tips:
- Check hotspots before use
- Don't use blankets more than 5 years old
- When storing them away for summer - rolll them, don't fold them
- Turn blankets off before sleeping
- Make sure cords and controls aren't twisted.
Other tips for staying warm and saving money this winter, as per Consumer NZ:
- Ensure your house is as sealed as possible
- Use LED lightbulbs
- Turn off appliances and lights when you're not using them
- Ensure your house is dry; avoid drying washing inside, if you can, and use those extractor fans.