Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

The must-have items to get you through winter

CHOICE staff share their favourite ways to kill the chill.

woman warm in winter blanket lead
Last updated: 26 April 2024


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

As the days shorten and the weather grows cooler, our household routines also change. Windows and doors that stood open to catch cooling summer breezes are closed tight against the winter chill. Light t-shirts and shorts that saw regular wear during hotter weather are shoved to the back of the wardrobe and jumpers and hoodies enter high rotation. Thongs make way for slippers and flannelette sheets appear on our beds.

There are other changes, too. As the colder weather sets in, different items around our home begin to get regular use. We asked CHOICE staff to tell us which appliances (other than heaters) get plugged in as the weather cools down. 

1. The electric blanket

We're lucky in Australia that most of us enjoy relatively mild winters but the nights can still get seriously cold in many parts of the country. Apart from adding an extra blanket or heavier doona to the bed, one thing that many of the CHOICE team say they enjoy is an electric blanket. 

Electric blankets are great for warming up your bed on a chilly night. They're also cheap to run, especially when compared to an electric heater, for example. 

Our testing shows modern electric blankets are safe, however, there's always a small risk. Find out the dos and don'ts of electric blanket use so you can enjoy the cosy feeling of slipping into a warm bed on a cold night without worrying about safety. 

2. Heated throws

Heated throws are like the younger, hipper sibling of the electric blanket. Unlike their fuddy-duddy older brother who stays on the bed and only gets used at night, a heated throw is dynamic. It can move around with you, bringing warmth wherever you are in the house. 

With many of us working remotely, more than one CHOICE team member praised a heated throw as an essential part of their home office set-up. 

"A heated blanket for working from home in winter changed my life! It's cheap and super toasty and I literally let out an audible 'ahhhh' whenever I put it back on after being out of my chair," one fan told us. 

We haven't tested heated throws but since they require electricity to heat them you should take care when purchasing and using them. Check recalls on the ACCC's Product Sfety website and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for their safe use.

electric blanket on bed

Electric blankets are great for warming your bed before you climb in at night. For daytime use, a heated throw brings warmth wherever you go in the house

3. The slow cooker

One of the best things about cooler weather is the chance to enjoy hearty winter meals.

Prepping dinner in the slow cooker before you head into the office and returning at the end of the day to the smell of a delicious meal ready to eat is one of the highlights of wintertime. 

As well as being delicious, meals cooked in a slow cooker can be good for your wallet, too. Slow cooking is a great way to turn cheaper cuts of meat into a succulent and sustaining dish. And they don't have to cost you much – models as cheap as $24 earn a recommendation in our slow cooker reviews

We've also tested many multi-cookers that have slow cooker functions if you'd like an appliance that does double duty in the kitchen (check out our multicooker reviews). Slow cookers aren't just good for meaty casseroles and stews. They're also great for cooking lentils and other pulses and are ideal for hearty stocks and soups, which brings us to the next appliance on our list.

4. The stick blender

While perhaps not as obvious an inclusion, a stick blender receives a nomination on our list of winter must-haves because it's great for making soup. And unlike a traditional blender, you can use a stick blender to smooth out your soup in the cooking vessel, meaning less washing up. 

Of course, stick blenders are handy for all sorts of things, from blending up a smoothie to making pesto, but their ability to turn roasted vegies and stock into a smooth, tasty soup makes them very popular at CHOICE HQ. 

When testing stick blenders our experts look for products that are good at processing and chopping, easy to handle and easy to clean. The good news is this is another appliance category where you don't have to pay a fortune to get a good-performing model. The cheapest model to earn a recommendation in our test cost just $90.

making soup with stick blender

A stick blender makes it easy to blend winter soups and saves on washing up.

5. Heated towel racks and bathroom warmers

Not surprisingly, there were several nominations for appliances specifically designed to keep you warm in the bathroom. After all, who doesn't want to reduce the shock of shivering on the tiles after leaving a lovely warm shower?

Heated towel rails were a popular option. "We had a plug-in heated towel rack on wheels. Highly recommend it," said one devotee.

The heat light is another popular option for keeping bathrooms warm. Though not strictly an appliance, those who had them installed sang their praises. 

Also in this category, though less common, is underfloor heating. "When we redid our bathroom we had to tear out the floor and the contractor asked if we wanted underfloor heating. So nice when you have bare feet," says another CHOICE staff member.

using a humidifier in winter

Dry air, common in some parts of the country during winter, can irritate the skin, nose and throat, making a humidifier useful.

6. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers

Depending on the weather or where you live in the country, winter can bring with it either irritating dry air that causes allergies to flare, or dampness that causes mould. 

Dry air can irritate the skin, nose and throat or create problems for people with allergies or respiratory problems. 

In this case, a humidifier might help. Our reviews look for the humidifiers that are best at increasing humidity, are easy to use and energy-efficient. 

Of course, air that's too damp brings another set of problems. The cold, wet, damp air that is a feature of some regions can make our homes uncomfortable, encourage the growth of mould and dust mites and even cause damage to paintwork. In those situations a dehumidifier can be useful. We recommend choosing a desiccant dehumidifier if you're planning to use it in a cool climate. 

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.