Electric blankets commonly are used to keep warm at night without keeping your home heating system running. They can reduce the cost of home heating significantly but there are a number of disadvantages to be aware of before buying an electric blanket. Some of these disadvantages are unique to specific brands while others are present in all electric blankets.
Electric blankets have a heating coil made of wire sewn into the blanket that produces heat. These wires can be easily broken with normal use, which can cause a short in the blanket that prevents current from flowing. The result is an electric blanket that doesn't produce heat. The control switches also are prone to failure. Chances are, you will have to buy a new electric blanket every year or so.
Occasionally, an electric blanket will get too hot and cause minor burns. This happens infrequently.
Sometimes, electric blankets don't get hot enough for comfort. Even when set to high heat, some blankets can't produce enough heat.
According to a paper by Nancy Wertheimer and Ed Leeper titled "Possible Effects of Electric Blankets and Heated Water Beds on Fetal Development" appearing in Bioelectromagnetics, Vol. 7, pp. 13-22 (1986), a correlation exists between electric blanket usage and the incidence of birth defects. Women might want to avoid using an electric blanket while pregnant. Additionally, according to the National Cancer Institute limited evidence exists suggesting a link between low-level electromagnetic fields and childhood cancer.
Sometimes electric blanket users feel the heating wires in the blanket and experience some discomfort as a result.
As with any electrical appliance, there is a risk of starting a fire. Electric blankets are tested for safety and designed to minimize this risk.
An electric blanket won't work if the power is out. For people who live in cold climates, it's important to have conventional blankets for emergencies and power outages.