Electric Blanket Or Heating Pad: Which Should You Use?

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

What’s the best way to get warm? An electric blanket or heating pad? Well, honestly it depends on if you are looking to warm up, need pain relief, and what your safety considerations might be.

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When it comes to staying warm, especially during winter, there are many options you can look at. You can choose to heat up the whole room, you can focus on specific areas of your body, or you can combine these options if that’s what you feel like doing.

To help you get some perspective, we are going to focus on two specific options.

We are going to compare electric blankets and heating pads, two very popular choices for seniors in general. Is one better than the other? And what should you know before you start shopping?

Find all the answers below.

Electric Blankets: Advantages and Disadvantages

An electric blanket is typically made with plush fleece fabric and consists of integrated heating wires, which are insulated for safety. It stretches across an entire bed, and you place it according to the type of electric blanket you choose.

For example, a heated mattress pad will go straight on the mattress and underneath the bottom sheet. An over-blanket gets placed on top of the bottom sheet. Some models of electric blankets are throw sized for use on a couch, chair, or even a recliner. Directions on how to use the electric blanket are usually provided and you can adjust the temperature via a remote controller.

These blanket heating aids have been around for several years now, and yes, there is some controversy in terms of safety. In other words, there is a very small risk the blanket can overheat. Hence the reason for following directions closely when you use an electric blanket. But apart from the minor risks, these are great for pre-heating the bed and to ease the process of falling asleep.

Another reason why might invest in an electric blanket is the money you save. Because when you compare the energy use between a blanket and other methods of heating the room (air conditioner, resistance wire heater), the costs for the blanket are much lower.

Pros:

  • You can heat up your entire body
  • Reduces energy costs when you need to stay warm at night
  • Easily control the temperature through a remote controller attached to the power chord
  • Choose between a variety of options

Cons:

  • Directions should be followed closely to ensure safe use
  • Is not suitable for everyone
  • Minor risk of overheating

Other Considerations:

While an electric blanket can be the ideal choice for some, it is not perfect for everyone. More specifically, you should avoid using it if you are immobile or you cannot easily adjust the temperature from your position on the bed.

Another element to remember involves turning the blanket off at a certain point. It is not recommended to sleep with the blanket heating the bed all night, seeing as it can lead to overheating. Just keep in mind that the blanket should not get bunched up or bent during use because this can lead to safety risks.

Related: Best Electric Blankets for the Elderly

Heating Pads: Advantages and Disadvantages

The popular alternative for electric blankets comes in the shape of heating pads. These are much smaller than blankets, but they share the necessity for an electric current. If you want to heat up the pad, you have to plug it in. Just like the electric blanket, you can control the temperature via a remote controller. However, you have the liberty of using the heating pads on targeted areas.

For the most part, people use heating pads to address pain in specific parts of the body. For instance, you can place it on your shoulders or neck to reduce tension pain. You can also use it to lower back pain and the discomfort of arthritis. Some individuals simply want something to keep their feet warm, in which case heating pads are ideal. You can even use heating pads to pre-heat the foot area of the bed.

Pros:

  • Ease pain in specific areas
  • Heat specific areas of your body
  • Easy to use, simply plug it in and set the temperature
  • Very effective for targeted heating purposes
  • Heating pads are mobile and are not limited to use in the bedroom

Cons:

  • Does not cover the entire body
  • Can become a safety hazard when damaged

Other Considerations:

Whenever you are working with something that needs to be plugged into, you want to approach it with some caution. Overall, heating pads are very safe, but it does not mean you should let your guard down. More importantly, it is not recommended to keep the heating pad plugged in for extended periods, especially when there is no supervision.

So, Which Should You Use? Electric Blanket Or Heating Pad?

In all fairness, both electric blankets and heating pads are great. They are both effective in terms of heating, and they come with the same low risks. However, one can be better than the other depending on what you need it for.

Are you having trouble falling asleep because you are simply too cold? Then an electric blanket is the most obvious choice. But if you want to reduce pain or heat specific parts of your body (such as your feet), it is recommended to invest in a heating pad.

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