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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Bethan Shufflebotham

I tried out eight energy saving products including Aldi heated airer and air fryers ahead of Black Friday

It’s officially the time of year where many of us have our fingers teetering over the thermostat wondering if it’s still too early to crack and put the heating on. In light of the cost of living crisis, many are worried about heating their homes as energy bills soar, and have been looking at alternatives to help keep costs low.

Most days you’ll find me tucked into a hooded blanket with a cuppa in hand and hot water bottle - but there are lots of ways you can keep warm while ignoring the smart metre.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve been trying out a number of energy saving products that can help reduce energy consumption and keep you warm in the winter months - and some of them cost less than a tenner to buy.

READ MORE: Shoppers snapping up £40 oven that can save £100s on energy bills

Black Friday is also on the horizon, falling on November 25, and I’m expecting a number of these products to be reduced - particularly Oodie dupes, air fryers and heated airers.

From USB heated slippers and gloves, to kitchen gadgets like energy-saving hot water dispensers and air fryers - here are some of the best products I’ve tested in 2022, which you should definitely keep in mind if you’re hoping to snap up some bargains at the end of the month.

USB gloves

Earlier this year Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis published a sad but essential guide called ‘heat the human not the home ’. In the guide put together by his team, he shared a number of cost effective ways to keep warm without the need for putting the heating on.

One of the suggestions in the post was using USB gloves to combat soaring energy costs, so I decided to give them a go for myself. The USB heated gloves were one of the cheapest suggestions on the list, with an initial investment of around £5, costing less than 1p an hour to run, and around 4p a week to use, based on being used for five hours a day.

I ordered some Rehomy USB heated mittens from Amazon, which cost slightly more than Martin’s £5 pair, but were one of the cheapest, but best-rated on the marketplace website. The pair I picked are currently £15.99.

To set up, a USB plugs into your laptop, which then splits into two wires each leading to a mitten. Inside the mittens are two heating patches that are attached to the inside of the glove with velcro. The gloves can be detached from the power source to be used as regular mittens, too, so you only need one pair for indoor and outdoor use. The chips can also be removed if the gloves need to be washed.

The gloves heated up immediately, taking around five seconds to reach a comfortable hand warming temperature. The chip heats to around 40 degrees celsius and heats both the palm of the hand and the knuckles.

I found that as soon as the gloves are detached from the power source, they cool almost as quickly as they warm up, which is great from a safety point of view. However, it would be great to be able to charge these ahead of them being used to allow for a more cordless, portable approach.

My hands are the one place I’m always cold which makes me want to crack and put the heating on, so these really helped keep me toasty while working from home, too.

Foot hot water bottle

One of my favourite Aldi Specialbuy purchases ever has to be this faux fur foot warmer. Coming in navy and grey, the warmers are £7.99 each, and are great for keeping your feet warm during the colder months.

The product description reads: “Whether you are snuggling down on the sofa, or want to warm up your feet in bed before sleep, this foot hot water bottle is perfect for keeping your toes toasty.”

As soon as I get up in the morning, the first thing on my to-do list is to flick the kettle on. I simply can’t do anything before I’ve had a cup of tea. Around 10 minutes after the kettle has boiled and I’m halfway through my morning brew, the water in the kettle is cooled just enough to add to the hot water bottle.

The hot water bottle - which conforms to British Standard - is encased in a cosy cover with a rubber base to prevent slipping. There’s also a pouch where you can slip your feet inside and rest them on top of the hot water bottle, which is separated by a snuggly piece of material.

The heat circulates in this pocket - which comfortably fits both of my feet - keeping even the tips of my toes warm for hours.

The innovative design means you can also use it as a regular hot water bottle. The bottle can be totally removed from the cover, or it can be used inside the cover and used to ease aches and pains.

The heat lasts for around three hours, but even then it’s still warm - but you might want to empty and refill it to stay warm throughout the day, especially if you’re doing an eight hour shift.

HotCup Kettle

I bought the Breville HotCup VKT124, back in summer, and since then, I’ve completely ditched the kettle. As a home worker who finds themselves putting the kettle on every 45 minutes, this kitchen gadget has been a lifesaver as I can make my cup of tea in less than 60 seconds, boiling just the right amount of water that I need with no waste.

The Breville description says it holds six to eight cups of water, which would be ideal for when everyone in the room accepts your polite offer of a brew. However, I’d say it’s more like five or six mugs.

I probably wouldn’t use it to make any more than four, as in that instance it would be easier to use the kettle and natter while it boils, rather than stand by the Breville swapping cups from under it like a conveyor belt.

The dispenser is more economical than a kettle, taking less time to boil, but also saves lots of time, which is perfect for our busy kitchen. The large water window also makes accurate filling easy, so you never run out of water halfway through making the teas and coffees.

Priced at £ 39.99 in Currys, it looks sleek, saves money and works well - what more could you ask for?

Hooded blanket

In light of energy bill advice from fans of Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, shoppers have looked to hooded blankets as means of keeping warm at home without having to put the heating on.

Oodie is the most popular hooded blanket brand at the moment, but one would set you back around £89, however the brand currently has a huge sale on its website.

There are lots of cheaper alternatives available, though. I have the Dreamscene Leopard Print Hoodie Blanket , which was £16.99 on Amazon . It’s got a really cosy feel with a soft sherpa lining, complete with elasticated cuffs making it ideal for working from home and typing on laptops.

It also has a huge two sided pocket, which is large enough for a hot water bottle for extra warmth - but it’s pretty snuggly on its own.

While this one is currently sold out shoppers have been snapping up this blanket from the retailer. Usually £12.99, it’s down to £11.99 at the moment, and has been praised for being ‘comfortable’ and ‘warm’. Available in five colours, you can bag the Amazon Oodie-alternative here.

USB slippers

These heated winter warmer USB slipper boots were originally £29.99, but have been slashed to £8.99 on the deals site Wowcher - a saving of around 70 per cent.

The fluffy boots come in pink or grey, going up to a size 9, so I opted for grey, purchasing a voucher through the deals site before using the link in my emails to purchase the slippers.

The slippers arrived in 10 days, which I thought was okay considering the postal strikes at the moment. Inside the package were my two slipper boots and the USB splitter cable which can be connected to your computer, power bank power supply or adapter power supply. I’ve never wanted to try something out so quickly in my life.

I plugged in the USB to my laptop - since I was working from home, it made sense to use a power outlet that was already on, rather than charge an additional power bank. The USB goes into the slot, then has two jacks that plug into receivers that stick out of the side of the slippers. The wire leads to a zip-up compartment at the base of the slipper, in which a ‘high conversion carbon fibre’ heat pad is stored. Two wires heat the copper strips inside, which warms the sole of the slippers, thus keeping your feet warm.

It took around 20 minutes or so for the slippers to heat up to their full capacity, which, when your already cold feels like quite a long time. That said, the mere addition of the plush slippers, which go up your ankle for added warmth, already helped make a difference to my overall temperature.

The heated pads get warm, but not very hot. I’d say you could comfortably hold the bare pads in your hands without fear of a burn. I did find, after several uses of the slippers, that if your feet are already cold, the USB slippers aren’t as effective, taking around an hour to feel comfortable again. However, if you’re already at an average temperature, they do a very good job of retaining heat and keeping you warm.

They are ideal on cold autumnal mornings and evenings, and if it means I can avoid putting the heating on for another couple of weeks, then they get a thumbs up from me. You can buy the Wowcher deal USB slippers for £8.99 here.

Aldi heated airer

Shoppers went wild for Aldi’s affordable Easy Home Heated Airer when it launched in stores last month, and I almost struggled to get my hands on one. 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 heated airer was easy to set up, with an ironing board style assembly and fold out wings. It folds back up 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.

Plugging in the airer, it took around three or four minutes to significantly heat up before we loaded it up with washing. We filled the centre with the majority of the load, using the ends to dry thicker items like jumpers and cardigans.

The airer comes with a snug fitting blue cover which traps the heat in, helping dry the clothes faster. We still checked on the washing every hour or so to rejig items and make sure all was well beneath the cover.

We found that it dries around five to six inches around the bar in an hour, to which then you may want to shift the placement to speed up drying time. Like with a regular airer, you could leave the garments and they will eventually dry in the same position, but you can certainly help speed things along with this method.

The airer kicks out a fair amount of heat into the room, so it’s well worth having it set up in the room where you spend the most time to avoid popping the heating on. Alternatively, you could pop it in the bedroom and have it nice and cosy before bed.

Our Aldi heated airer took around four hours to fully dry our wash load - which meant it cost less than 28p to do so, compared to more than 60p in the tumble dryer. Not only that, but careful hanging sees the creases drop out of your clothes, too, reducing the need to iron them.

It’s certainly faster than a regular clothes maid, and cheaper than a tumble drier to use. Not only that, but it’s perfect for those delicates, knits and more expensive clothes that you don’t want to risk putting in the dryer.

Faux fur duvet

Of course we all want to be snug as a bug in bed, all toasty and warm, with the house still cosy in the morning for getting ready. But that’s also a huge chunk of time where the heating could be turned a few degrees lower to save money.

I’ve swapped out my usual cotton sheets for this luxury faux fur duvet set from Wowcher, which means I no longer need the heating on from 10pm to 8am.

The double set should have cost £59.99, but is currently reduced with the deal-of-the-day site for £29.99 . Alternatively, a single set costs £19.99, and a king comes in at £32.99.

The machine washable duvet comes with two matching pillow cases and has quite a bit of weight to it. One side has a shaggy but very soft finish, which can be brushed fairly flat with the palm of your hand.

The reverse is smooth but very snuggly, and feels very plush quality for the price. Climbing into bed at the end of the day felt as though I was being cocooned, and within minutes I was toasty and warm, despite the cooler temperature of the room overall.

The Wowcher offer for the duvet deal runs until January 31, 2024, and shoppers will have 28 days to buy the set before the voucher expires.

Air fryer

I recently acquired an air fryer, which seems to quickly be becoming the must-have kitchen gadget. 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 airfryer - the Innoteck 16L air fryer oven - claimed to be able to cook a whole rotisserie chicken. I admit, I was pretty sceptical about that, so I tested it out my cooking an entire roast in it, which would undoubtedly save on energy costs, and the washing up, too.

The ‘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.

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. After adding the chicken to my rotisserie split, I placed it into the air fryer and set it running for 35 minutes.

Usually the average roasting time of a chicken is anywhere between one hour to an hour and 40 minutes, meaning the air fryer pretty much halved the time.

I appreciate that this nearly £150 gadget is an investment piece, and it does demand space in your kitchen, but over the last few weeks, we’ve been using it more than our regular oven. I really do think the price is justifiable purely for its ability to create perfect roast potatoes every single time.

You can also find more affordable air fryers at other retailers, including Argos and Aldi.


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