There are two types of people in this world: those with biological central heating, and those without. I’m definitely one of the latter, with the added joy of Raynauds Syndrome. Naturally, I use any and all tech at my disposal to stay on the right side of frozen, and I’m here to share my secrets.
Here are my 3 favourite not-so-obvious ways (read: not USB mug warmers) tech can help you keep cosy this winter.
1. Put your electric blanket on a smart plug
You have an electric blanket, right? Start there, if not. They don’t cost much to run, and can actually save you money if you use them instead of putting the whole house heating on. That’s my excuse, anyway.
You can get awkward bed-sized electric blankets, even double ones with dual controls for those of you with partners who prefer to heat themselves. My cat is very fond of mine.
The techy bit, though, is to plug your electric blanket into a smart socket. There are lots of different types: get one by a good brand that’s compatible with smart assistants, and you’ll be able to turn your bed on by voice. Yesss.
I use the TP-Link ones (about £25): you don’t need a hub or any other accessories, and they’re compatible with both Alexa and Google Home. Plug your electric blanket directly into the smart plug, then that into the socket, and you’ll be able to control your bed from anywhere in the world.
This has two benefits:
- You can start warming the bed up ahead of time, like when you’re in the last 20 minutes of your Netflix programme
- You can check, double-check and even triple-check you definitely totally 100% turned it off after you leave the house. Good for those of us with anxiety.
Depending on which smart plug you go for, you can also schedule automatic turnings on and off in the app, but my life is too unpredictable for that so I do it manually. It’s easy peasy and stops me beng freezy.
2. Get some self-warming gloves
Smart gloves are pretty useful: they keep your hands warm and you can still use a touchscreen (although I keep trying to fingerprint-unlock my phone with mine, which unsurprisingly does not work).
But a step up from that is Made With Glove: one of my favourite female-led startups, which is developing self-warming gloves designed specifically for women. SO often, smart wearables are designed with dudes in mind, and women are lucky if we get to be an afterthought. Since hand size generally does differ between the (cis) genders, putting a massive pair of blokey gloves on wouldn’t work so well for many of us with tiny mitts.
Image: Made With Glove
The gloves aren’t actually available yet, but the awesomely-named Made With Glove wants to hear from potential customers, so do send them your opinions. Mine is “hell yes I want this.”
3. Voice control your central heating
We’ve all heard 100 million times why the smart heating things are a good idea: cheaper, easier, blah blah. The real reason you need to go for Tado (the one I’ve got), Hive Active Heating or similar is that you can turn the heating up without moving your lazy bum off the sofa. In fact, if you’ve got a virtual assistant, you can make Google or Alexa do it for you without even moving your hands. This is especially handy when said hands are frozen solid round a cup of tea that is now mostly icicle and biscuit shards.
Depending on how your home is set up, it’s not usually too much of a faff to add smarts to the heating system. I’ve done it in three separate rentals without upsetting the landlords (in fact they’re usually pleased) or causing any core meltdowns. However, if you’re clueless, both Hive and Tado offer professional install options (at £50 and £90 respectively), and Tado will even let you rent their smart heating system so you don’t have to pay for it all upfront.
If you already have a smart heating system, make sure you connect it up to Google Home / Alexa / Siri so you can voice-command it like the deity you are. You’ll be glad you did when you’re all snuggly in front of Blue Planet 2 and you don’t even have to move to heat up the room. Ahhhh.
Still cold? Take a look at our review of Hotsquash, clothes that use tech to keep you warm without the bulk.