Cold nights, drafty homes, and differing temperature preferences are a recipe for discomfort when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep. A heated mattress pad is one option to dial in temperature for maximum coziness, and as a bonus, it generally requires less energy than your central heating.
It has to be said that a heated mattress pad may not save you money at first, as the upfront investment ranging from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars may offset any savings on your utility bill. However, it’s probably more efficient to heat your bed to a specific temperature for 8–10 hours than it is your entire home.
Heated mattress pad or electric blanket?
When it comes to warming up at night, you’ve got two main options. A heated mattress pad is probably preferable if you’re looking for a way to heat your whole bed at night, while an electric blanket is more portable for use on your couch, at your desk, or to travel with.
Mattress pads have a few of their own perks: They fit snugly on your bed, meaning they heat efficiently and consistently and don’t get bunched up while you sleep. They can also add extra cushion to your mattress, though most are thinner than a typical mattress topper.
Check for safety first
When selecting heated bedding, make sure your options have been tested and certified. If your mattress pad has one of these labels, you can feel more confident that it meets safety standards to minimise the risk of electrical shock or catching fire (if used properly). Most heated bedding bought new from a reputable company is likely to be safe, but you can also look for extra features like automatic shut-off.
Heated mattress pads are generally made of polyester, cotton, or a poly-cotton blend. Cotton wicks moisture and breathes better, making it more comfortable if you sweat at all during the night. (If you sweat profusely, your pad is too hot.) A polyester pad is probably going to be cheaper. A blend may get you the best of both. Keep in mind that the fabric quality will also affect durability and how well your mattress pad holds up when laundered.
Select a heating mechanism
Mattress pads are heated by either electrical wires or water. The former has a network of metal wires running through the pad, while the latter pumps a small amount of heated or cooled water into silicone tubes. Water-heated pads are generally more expensive, but they tend to be more versatile year-round because they can also be used for cooling. Some people can feel electrical wires through thinner pads, so keep that in mind if you’re a sensitive sleeper.
Look at the specific features
Once you’ve got the basics, what’s left is to compare the nitty-gritty:
- Heat settings: The more settings your heated pad has, the more specific you can get with the temperature control. Look for at least 10 discrete settings. If you share a bed, you may also want a mattress pad that has different zone settings for different temperature preferences. Some pads also have distinct settings for the upper, middle, and lower body, preheating functions, and timing controls.
- Control mechanism: Controls are often wired directly to the pad, though some have wireless controls or connect with a smartphone app. Controls can also be analogue or digital. No matter the format, look for controls that are easy to see and change in the dark.
- Cord length and outlet requirements: For safety reasons, you should generally avoid connecting your heated bedding to an extension cord. This means that the cord length and outlet configuration in your bedroom may actually be a dealbreaker for certain models.
- Sizing: Not all pads have flexible sizing to fit various mattress thicknesses.
- Machine washable: Materials that are machine washable and dryer safe offer more convenience, but also keep in mind that you shouldn’t need to wash your mattress pad as often as your sheets, and air drying may help your pad hold up for longer.
- User reviews: Look at both ranked lists of the best-heated mattress pads and read user reviews to see how specific products operate and hold up over time.
- Warranty: As Wirecutter points out, heated bedding isn’t known for its reliability, and the most frequent consumer complaints are about mattress pads that simply stopped working. Look for a pad that has at least a three-year manufacturer warranty.
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