Spiralling energy prices will hit everyone hard – especially the army of people who now work from home and who face having to put the heating on all day to stop themselves shivering at their laptops as winter blows in.
Working at home full-time could put about 75 per cent extra on gas bills, as having the heating on for four hours a day, five days a week could cost £90 a week, according to comparison site Uswitch.
But are there gadgets that could come to the rescue? A huge range of gizmos – from microwavable slippers to a heated desk – promise to keep home workers so toasty they won’t need heating, and they can cost only pennies a day to run. Of course, you need to factor in the initial cost of the products when calculating possible savings.
I put some to the test, spending a day working from home with no heating. Here’s my verdict – with stars out of five – on just how effective they were.
I’m worried the surface of the desk might heat up too much and cause problems with my laptop. thankfully, it doesn’t: the heat is directed down on to my lower body
HEAT UNDER THE TABLE
I start my day by switching on my £349 self-heating desk. Within five minutes, I feel my legs gently warming up, thanks to the radiator concealed within it.
I’m worried the surface of the desk might heat up too much and cause problems with my laptop. Thankfully, it doesn’t: the heat is directed down on to my lower body – and it begins to feel very warm indeed.
The Miniöko desk, from Dorset-based Okoform (okoform.com), runs at 260 watts – about a tenth of the power of a fan heater – so a nine-hour shift with it on will cost only 70p. No wonder Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud chose this as one of his ‘green heroes’.
SIMPLY THE VEST
When I begin to feel a little nippy in my unheated flat, I put on my Rrtizan heated vest.
Any padded gilet will keep you warm, but this £52.99 garment takes it to another level of cozy, with two heated panels operated by a rechargeable power bank in a pocket
Any padded gilet will keep you warm, but this £52.99 garment takes it to another level of cozy, with two heated panels operated by a rechargeable power bank in a pocket (not included but costs about £15). I press the button, and warmth instantly spreads upwards from my hips. In fact, it’s too efficient, as I soon start to feel overheated and have to unzip it to cool down.
You can’t argue with the energy savings as the gilet from Amazon (tinyurl.com/heatedgilet) costs less than 1p to charge.
CUSHION THE BLOW
To make myself extra snug, I plug in a heated seat pad, the velvety Dreamland Heated Multi Pad from John Lewis
To make myself extra snug, I plug in a heated seat pad, the velvety Dreamland Heated Multi Pad from John Lewis (tinyurl.com/heatedmultipad) and plonk myself down on it. And when my seat is warm enough, I lay the £39.99 pad over my lap while I type.
It feels like an updated take on the hot-water bottle – but it’s much cheaper to run. Boiling a kettle of water costs about 5.7p, but having the heat pad on for three hours costs about 1p. What a bargain!
WARMING THE SOLE
As I pulled them on, my toes and the soles of my feet were luxuriously warmed – it felt like stepping into a hot bath
I was very excited to try out these £19.99 Warmies from Amazon (tinyurl.com/heatedslippers), and zapped the fluffy slip-ons in the microwave on full power (800W) for the recommended 90 seconds.
As I pulled them on, my toes and the soles of my feet were luxuriously warmed – it felt like stepping into a hot bath. But the little beads that provide the heat did make the slippers clompy. Moving around, I feel like Bigfoot. They also lost their heat quite quickly.
Popping them in the microwave costs 0.6pa time. If I reheated them every two hours, it would mean five trips in a working day – 3p in total.
NOT A MUG’S GAME
I can’t imagine getting through a day of work without endless tea and coffee. But with no heating on, it is difficult to keep those cuppas warm. Enter the £29.99 Garmee mug-warmer from Amazon (tiny url.com/mugheater) – a mini hotplate that plugs into the mains and costs just 0.68p per hour. Even if you have it on for the entire working day, it won’t cost more than 5p – cheaper than popping the kettle on. But a Thermos would be free…
Even if you have it on for the entire working day, it won’t cost more than 5p – cheaper than popping the kettle on
We all know we lose body heat through the head, so a knitted hat is a must. But this £18.99 Beanie hat and neck-warmer from Amazon (tinyurl.com/heatedhat) will keep you extra toasty with electric heat panels hidden within the wool.
And the two-in-one combo needs just 10 watts to keep you toasty – a cost of 0.3p for nine hours. Because I already had a scarf on, I found it made a useful hand-warmer, too.
THE HOTTEST FASHION
This £18.99 Beanie hat and neck-warmer from Amazon (tinyurl.com/heatedhat) will keep you extra toasty with electric heat panels hidden within the wool
I was pleasantly surprised by the pretty pink-and-grey tweed of this £25 USB-powered scarf from Boots (tinyurl.com/heatedneckscarf), given the other heated garments I tried were hardly fashion-forward.
Once plugged into my laptop, I twisted it around my neck and switched it on. Within minutes, I was in danger of sweltering. But I will definitely wear this again for long winter walks. It can be plugged into a pocket power block and costs about 0.2p an hour to run.
KEEP MEALS REAL
The £26.99 ErayLife lunchbox from Amazon (tinyurl.com/heated box) promises to keep a cooked meal warm all day, or to heat up a dish straight from the fridge in just half an hour. I tried it out by plugging it into the mains and spooning some leftover tortellini (with a splash of water) into the stainless-steel compartment. In 30 minutes, it was warmed through and ready to eat.
It runs at 40 watts, costing 0.7p to run for 30 minutes – roughly the same as reheating leftovers in the microwave in seconds – but doing it in your main oven would set you back 51p.