How to Choose the Perfect Heated Mattress Pad for You
Cold winter nights, drafty homes, and varying 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 adjust the temperature for maximum coziness, and as a bonus, it usually uses less energy than your central heating.
It should be said that a heated mattress pad may not save you money at first, as an initial investment of a few hundred to over a thousand dollars can offset any savings on utility bills. However, it is probably more efficient to heat your bed to a certain temperature for 8-10 hours than the whole house.
Heated mattress pad or electric blanket?
When it comes to warming up at night, you have two main options. A heated mattress pad is probably preferable if you’re looking for a way to keep your entire bed warm at night, while an electric blanket is more portable for use on the couch, at the table, or while traveling.
Mattress toppers have several advantages: they fit snugly against your bed, which means they heat up efficiently and consistently and don’t clump while you sleep. They can also add an extra pillow to your mattress, although most are thinner than a regular mattress topper. We already have a guide to choosing an electric blanket if that suits you better, but if you want to use a heated mattress pad, here’s what to consider before buying.
Check security first
When choosing heated bedding, make sure your options have been tested and certified by Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) or Underwriters Laboratories (UL). If your mattress pad has one of these labels on it, you can be more confident that it meets safety standards to minimize the risk of electric shock or fire (when used correctly). Most heated bedding purchased new from a reputable company is likely to be safe, but you can also find additional features such as automatic shutdown.
Heated mattress pads are usually made from polyester, cotton, or a poly-cotton blend. Cotton absorbs moisture and breathes better, making it more comfortable if you sweat at night. (If you sweat a lot, your pad is too hot.) A polyester pad will probably be cheaper. A mixture can give you the best of both. Keep in mind that the quality of the fabric also affects the durability and how well your mattress pad will hold up in the wash.
Select heating mechanism
Mattress covers are heated either by electric wires or by water. The first has a network of metal wires running through the pad, while the second pumps a small amount of heated or cooled water into silicone tubes. Water heated pads tend to be more expensive, but they tend to be more versatile throughout the year as 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 features
Once you have the basics, it remains to compare the smallest details:
- Heating settings: The more settings your heating pad has, the more precisely you can control the temperature. Find at least 10 discrete settings. If you share a bed, you may also want a mattress pad with different zone settings for different temperature preferences. Some pads also have separate upper, middle and lower body settings, preheat functions and timing controls.
- Control mechanism: The controls are often connected directly to the tablet, although some are wirelessly controlled or connected to a smartphone app. Control can also be analog or digital. Regardless of the format, look for controls that are easy to see and change in the dark.
- Cord Length and Plug Requirements: For safety reasons, connecting heated bedding to an extension cord should generally be avoided. This means that the length of the cord and the configuration of the outlet in your bedroom can be a deciding factor for some models.
- Sizes: Not all pads have flexible sizes to fit mattresses of different thicknesses.
- Machine washable: Machine washable and tumble dryable materials provide more comfort, but also keep in mind that you don’t need to wash your mattress pad as often as your sheets, and air drying can help your rug last longer.
- User reviews. Browse both ranked lists of the best heated mattress pads and read user reviews to find out how specific products perform and hold up over time.
- Warranty: As Wirecutter points out, heated bedding isn’t known for being reliable, and the most common consumer complaint concerns mattress toppers that just stopped working. Look for a mat that has a manufacturer’s warranty of at least three years.