As much as we covet them, grand, lofty houses do not a comfortable home make. The big country piles and expansive farmhouses of the shires struggle to keep in the heat – hence the year-round Aga and coal fires being lit on days when the mercury threatens to fall into the teens. In fact, most period homes in the UK under-perform in extreme temperatures; we do, after all, have the most poorly insulated housing stock in Europe.
So with a prohibitively expensive winter almost upon us, what are our options should we disconnect all energy-sapping devices and decide to Sellotape our thermostat at 18C? (According to research by Uswitch.com, households that turn their thermostats down by a single degree could save up to £128 on their energy bills.) The answer is heated gadgets. Powering out enough heat – on a thrifty cost-per-hour ratio – to make light of domestic chores and an evening sat on the sofa a near tropical experience, these six items may just become our AW 22/23 heroes.
1. For the tumble drying rebel
You’ve already unplugged the tumble dryer but there has to be a better option than hanging your damp bed sheets over the bannister. Enter the heated clothes airer and lo, your winter laundry woes are halved. Aldi’s sell-out Heated Airer returns on Sunday, October 2, available to pre-order online before hitting stores on October 9. Costing just pennies per hour to use, this energy-saving alternative makes crusty, radiator-dried jeans a thing of the past.
Price £89.99, Aldi
2. For the blue-handed
When it comes to keeping warm, the extremities are usually the first to go into extremis.
If you have poor hand circulation, then a warming hand muffler might stop you suffering, without having to heat the whole room. Lanaform’s rechargeable hand warmer takes 10 minutes to charge and provides four hours of cordless, portable heat. You can also apply its fleecy exterior to your neck, back, any area that needs help to keep warm.
Price: £21.99, Stress No More
3. For the design-conscious
Comfort and style are rarely a pair. However, Dutch start-up Stoov has brought a sharp design eye to its heated “Ploov” cushions and “Big Hug” heating pads. Customers can choose from a range of fabrics such as bouclé and soft knits and tasteful colours including terracottas and creams. Founded in 2014 by Teun Van Leijsen, who came up with the idea while helping to keep his pregnant wife comfortable by heating up pillows, Stoov uses long-wave infrared heating technology (far-infrared or FIR), which means it heats objects and people rather than the air. These waves penetrate your body deeply and work best when a little distance is kept between body and product. For the larger batteries giving up to nine hours of heat, it can take around four hours to charge. Having just launched in the UK they are offering £10 off on all UK orders placed before October 3.
Prices for the Ploov cushions range from £99.99 to £119.99. The Big Hug heating pads range from £139.99 to £149.99. Stoov.com
4. For the classicist
If stories of house fires and lost family heirlooms are holding you back, then it’s time to acquaint yourself with the modern iterations of electric blankets. Von Haus’s heated throw, for example, is lined with soft fleece and made of 250gsm double flannel. It’s controlled by a digital remote with nine heat settings and thankfully, there’s a built-in timer should you inadvertently fall asleep, and the automatic shut-off protects against overheating. Spilt your cocoa or found the cat colonising it with fur? Machine washable up to 30 degrees and the plug is detachable.
Price £54.99, Vonhaus
5. For the coffee addict
If the icy air in your living space is sapping the heat out of morning coffee, then it’s time to purchase a USB-powered cup warmer. Not only will it prevent you from clicking on the kettle every half hour (tut, tut, wasteful), if you place your mug on top, it will keep your warming beverage at a very drinkable 50C for the foreseeable. No more glugging of tepid tea.
Price: £9.49, I Want One Of Those
6. For the person on the move
Cold in the office? Chilly on the commute? Well, the answer surely is a heated poncho. Essentially an electric blanket that you can button up and wear, this has nine heat and time settings, and has that reassuring overheating protection. It cleverly leaves your arms covered enough to keep them warm, but free enough to tap away at your laptop. Importantly, it’s also machine washable, for when you drag your sleeve through your dinner.
Price £89.99, Lakeland.co.uk