Although many people are building houses that have incredibly efficient HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems installed, many people still live in houses with poor insulation and HVAC. Older houses are particularly prone to these problems. In the winter, this can make the house too cold for comfort and result in astronomical heating bills.
Heated (electric) mattress pads may be a good alternative to keeping the heat running constantly, or to piling on blankets, and can drastically cut heating costs. However, it's worth investigating how much electricity electric mattress pads really use if you want to determine whether the pad will result in real savings.
Average Energy Usage
A typical electric mattress pad consumes approximately 60 to 90 watts on the high settings. This usage is per side, however, so an entire pad can consume 120 to 180 watts on average. Translated into money, this means the average pad is consuming about 2 to 3 cents if run for an entire night.
The size of the mattress pad impacts how much wattage is used. A twin mattress pad, for example, can use 60 to 85 watts, which is about the same amount as the wattage of each side of a larger pad. If you have a larger pad, you can expect to use more electricity because there is more pad to be heated.
Size of Wires and Age
Small wires and circuits have increased resistance. This means that it takes less voltage to heat them up than it does for large wires, so mattress pads that have wires that are larger than others will need more electricity to get the same amount of heat. Wires in mattress pads typically have become smaller over time, so the newer your mattress pad, the better the odds are that it is more efficient. Some mattress pad manufacturers claim their products use as little as 25 watts because of the size of the pads' wires.
Some mattress pads are made of material that holds heat very well. These mattress pads don't cool as quickly, so you can run them on a lower setting. Many mattress pads have auto-shut-off features that turn them off once they reach a certain temperature. If your pad stays hotter longer, it won't turn back on as often. This means that you will use less electricity.
Everyone has a different temperature at which they are most comfortable. People who get cold very easily may run their mattress pad more often or at higher settings, thus using more electricity. Those who get overheated easily do the opposite and thus use less electricity to run their pad. Along with these factors, consider pad and wire size to reduce your heating costs.
Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.