Four energy-saving gadgets reviewed as cost of living crisis bites

All over the UK, people are still feeling the strain of the ongoing cost of living crisis. For the past 12 months, many of us have been trying to find ways to save money on heating, gas and electric bills, whether through scrimping and saving, or by using some clever pieces of kit. 

As Bethan Shufflebotham, an affiliates and reviews writer for the Manchester Evening News explains, some energy saving gadgets can be incredibly useful in your day to day life. Over the last year, she has been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to try out various gizmos and gadgets that claim to save money on heating, gas and electric bills, and some have been far better than others.

Some of the best ones have slotted into her daily routines seamlessly, and actually get used every day, if not most days.

While some save on energy by being faster and more efficient, others have been brilliant at keeping you toasty and warm without the need for the heating – and every little helps as the new energy price cap is set to come in this April.

Here are the four energy saving products that Beth has been using this year that are actually worth the money and get used all the time:

Heated airer

Shoppers went wild for Aldi’s affordable Easy Home Heated Airer when it launched in stores back in October, and almost the second it’s back in stock, it’s sold out again, becoming one of the most wanted Specialbuys from the retailer.

It costs less than 7p an hour to run, compared to 30p+, like most tumble dryers, which sounds very appealing when you’re trying to cut costs.

The Aldi heated airer has seen a few mixed reviews in the past, most of which circle around a complaint that the airers only dry the part of the clothes that are touching the bars. However, the way that I see it is that it’s cheaper than a tumble dryer, and quicker than a non-heated airer, so you get a really good middle ground of faster drying clothes at a lower cost.

The heated airer is easy to set up, and folds back down flat for easy storage, taking up little space in the pantry or under the stairs.

Ideal for rainy days and the colder months when the washing line is out of action, the airer has 20 bars on which to hang anything from clothes to towels and bedding. The bars are well sized and evenly spaced, making it quick and easy to hang anything from shirts to chunky knits – it’s particularly handy for delicates and expensive items that you wouldn’t want to put in the tumble dryer, too.

Because of how easy it is to set up and fold away, we use this almost every day – whenever we have a wash load waiting to dry. It heats up quicky and dries a washload in about four hours, depending on what’s included. The airer comes with a snug fitting blue cover which traps the heat in, helping dry the clothes faster, as well.

But another reason we use it so often is because the airer kicks out a fair amount of heat into the room, meaning it warms up the living room, so that we don’t feel the need to put the central heating on, saving us money there, too.

Oversized hoodie blanket

I’ve racked up quite the collection of oversized hoodie blankets over the last 12 months, and currently have three I wear on rotation. The first, and probably the thinnest, is an affordable £14 one from Amazon, as well as a weighted version from Online Home Shop which aims to help with anxiety.

But my favourite so far has to be the oversized hoodie blankets. While they are quite a bit more expensive than some of the alternatives online, they’re so worth the money for how much warmer they are.

The £89 hoodies come in nine different colours or patterns, and their one-size-fits-all design will fit anyone from the age of 10, up to a 6XL.

Made with a breathable MicroCool teddy fleece exterior and a soft sherpa fleece interior, the hoodie has quite a bit of weight to it and is much thicker than the others I own, feeling plush and cosy. I ordered the grey one, which is adorned with white stars that have a cool secret feature – they glow in the dark!

The blanket is insanely warm, and keeps me toasty while working from home without needing to put the fire or the central heating on.

As well as being thicker and warmer than alternatives I’ve tried, the front pocket is also much larger than its rivals, and is perfect for movie night, fitting in tonnes of snacks.

While the hooded blanket is more expensive than alternatives on the high street, it’s a cut above the rest when it comes to quality, and not only kept the cold at bay, but genuinely kept me toasty and warm. It’s the perfect combination of a pullover and my favourite throw blanket, and just goes to prove that sometimes, you do have to pay a little bit more for the extra benefits.

Air fryer

Air fryers have fast become the must-have kitchen gadget, and everyone I’ve spoken to worships theirs for saving both money on energy, and on the washing up.My air fryer – the Innoteck 16L air fryer oven – is able to cook a whole rotisserie chicken and full roast dinner, so you can imagine how much more relaxed Sundays are in our house.

Air fryers are countertop convection ovens best known for cooking food quickly and with less fat or oil, as well as costing around 75 per cent less in energy than a traditional oven.

My ‘extra large’ air fryer is around two thirds oven space, and one third screen which offers 10 auto programmes that include pizza, rotisserie and dehydrating.

We’ve found it to be extremely useful for batch cooking and meal prepping, because it cooks chicken really quickly, which can then be portioned up for lunches and dinners throughout the week. For example, when we cooked a rotisserie chicken, it took just 35 minutes compared to 1 hour and 40 minutes in the oven.

Setting up the Innoteck airfryer was really easy, it’s just a couple of trays, plug in and go. It also comes with a rotating basket, rotisserie split, retrieval tool, drip tray, silicone glove and brush.

I appreciate that this nearly £150 gadget is an investment piece, and it does demand space in your kitchen, but we’ve been using it more than our regular oven, and have found it to encourage us to experiment with new, healthier recipes, too.

Express shares how to clean air fryers in five minutes

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Electric blanket

Hot water bottles are great, but I’ve often found they don’t heat up the entire bed, so I decided to give this Silentnight Electric Blanket a go after spotting it in the Aldi Specialbuys for less than £25.

Priced at £24.99, the energy-saving blanket comes with a convenient single control, three different heat settings and an overheat protection safety feature, too. Aldi said it’s ‘perfect for heat seekers and those who like to stay warm’, which, as someone who feels the cold and is generally a bit nesh, it sounded ideal.

The electric blanket costs around 8p an hour to run and was really easy to set up – it makes for a great individual alternative to heating the entire home.

It doesn’t take long to warm up, either, and it’s made a huge difference to how quickly I become sleepy and want to go to sleep at night, too, which has been an added bonus.

What’s more is that I suffer with lower back pain and this blanket has offered some much needed heat therapy right before bed, which has caused it to hurt much less, making sleeping, and rising, much more relaxing and pain-free.

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