Comforter Buying Guide.

When it comes to cuddling up for a comfy night’s sleep with the best down comforter, the right comforter can really make a difference. And in the winter, for every degree you turn down the thermostat you’ll save 1 to 2 percent on your heating bill during an eight-hour sleep cycle. Over the course of a year, that could save you 10 percent or more. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute evaluated down and down-alternative comforters for performance, durability, and appearance to help you find the best bedding for you.


How We Tested

We evaluated down comforters and down-alternative comforters for performance, durability, and appearance. The manufacturers’ goal is to create warmth without weight — a lofty fill that keeps you warm without making you feel constrained or smothered.

Performance ratings were based on lab evaluations of each comforter’s warmth (using an insulation analysis machine) and the weight of 12-inch-by-12-inch samples.

Down comforters were reviewed to ensure compliance with industry standards for down composition and feather specification (i.e., we made sure the comforters filling was comprised of the mix of feathers that the manufacturer claimed).

To evaluate durability, we looked at how well the comforters held up after five washes or dry cleanings, per the labels’ instructions. We looked for shrinkage, pilling, and weakening of the fabric.

We incorporated consumer ratings on each comforter’s appearance when new.


Before You Buy

Decide whether you want a down or down-alternative comforter. Down has the advantage of being naturally insulating without being heavy. It’s typically better at regulating temperature than manmade fill (after all, these feathers kept the goose comfortable, too). Often, down isn’t recommended for allergy sufferers, though some fills have gone through special washing that may help alleviate allergy triggers. Keep in mind: When buying down, you’ll be paying a bit for quality. Synthetic fills are less pricey and generally preferable for allergy sufferers. But they aren’t as efficient as down at regulating temperature, and their warmth sometimes comes from lots of filling, which can make them feel heavy.

With down, look for a high fill power, which means more down per ounce. This increases loft, or fluff, and warmth. A fill power of 600 or more indicates an excellent loft.

Keep in mind that duck and goose down provide equal best down comforter insulation; the difference is that geese are wild, so when they’re captured and plucked, their clusters are more mature and therefore can be larger and warmer. Ducks can be farmed, so the cluster size can vary more, but the comforters made of duck down are often cheaper.

Don’t worry about quality or performance differences between gray and white down; some consumers simply don’t like seeing the gray through the outer fabric.

Keep your sleeping habits in mind. A lighter best down comforter fill power (500 or below) is more appropriate for a warm room or if you wear heavy pajamas, while a thicker fill power (600 and above) suits a cooler room or if you prefer wearing light pajamas.

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