Energy efficiency can be a major challenge for pet owners, who typically have a furry, feathery or scaly resident that never leaves the house. But you don’t have to choose between keeping your pet comfortable and minimizing your energy costs—these simple actions will help you achieve both.
1. Use a programmable thermostat. In the winter months, you may not be comfortable setting the thermostat below 72 degrees—but your pet will be. Don’t be afraid to set your thermostat a little higher in the summer and lower in the winter while you’re away from home. Pets have ways of dealing with warm (think panting) and cold (think fur) temperatures that humans don’t.
The Alliance to Save Energy recommends pet owners set the thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter, but check with your vet to see what temperature range is best for your particular breed. (If your bunny insists on sleeping under the covers with you, it’s a sign you should turn up the heat.)
2. Shut off fans. Ever buy your pet deodorant? We hope not. Animals don’t produce sweat the way that humans do, and their thick coats might prevent them from even feeling the breeze produced by your fan. Running the fan when you aren’t at home won’t change the temperature of your home or your pet—it’ll just add unnecessary kilowatt-hours to your electric bill.
3. Don’t leave lights on. Unless your dog is hooked on the latest Game of Thrones novel, or your cat is into jigsaw puzzles, there’s no need to illuminate the house when you’re not there. Animals rely on natural light and darkness for their internal schedules, and don’t need artificial light. One product CUB often recommends to save on lighting costs—motion sensors—will pick up animal motion as well, so these lights won’t work quite as well for you, especially if you have a particularly hyper cat or dog.
4. Install an energy efficient exit/entrance. Your doggie door—while useful—is probably not air tight, and it can suck conditioned air right out of your home, along with your hard-earned money. Look for a model with substantial sealing properties to keep air in. If you don’t want to replace your doggie door, make sure to keep your current one well-caulked.
5. Turn off the tube. As much as you may like the idea of your dog catching up on the latest season of Homeland, it’s not very realistic. Leaving televisions and radios on when you’re not home will only confuse your pet, and prevent it from napping. Toys and bones are much better entertainment, and they won’t cost you a dime on your power bill.
6. Don’t let a drafty house ruffle your bird’s feathers. ComEd’s “Little Bill” used to chirp about “cheap, cheap” electricity, but he was probably more concerned about the heating bill. Many pet birds originate from tropical locations and require warmer temperatures—they won’t like being kept near a leaky window or door. Be sure to move your pet bird away from drafty areas, and reduce air leaks by covering windows with a shrink-wrap insulation kit.
7. Recycle aquarium water. When you clean your fish tank, remove only one-third or one-half of the water and use it to water indoor and outdoor plants. Also, ask some questions about your aquarium—which is always running, and can eat up a lot of energy. Is it using an LED lighting system? Can you find aquarium pumps with a lower power consumption? Make sure to place your aquarium where it is not subject to big temperature swings—away from drafty window and doors or appliances that give off hot or cold air (heater, air conditioning systems).
8. Wash pet fabrics in cold water. If your dog’s blanket or your cat’s favorite sweater needs a wash, use cold water instead of hot. The fabric will come out just as clean, you’ll use up to 90 percent less energy, and Fido won’t know the difference.
9. Put your reptile on a schedule. Snakes, lizards and other reptiles have unique heating and lighting demands. Consider purchasing a timer from your local hardware store to automatically switch light and heat lamps on and off. This keeps your reptile on a tidy schedule, and helps you manage energy costs.
10. Don’t run the water. While your puppy might like lapping up the water streaming out of your sink or bath, running the tap can cost you serious money. Make sure your pet has plenty of water available—in a dish—before you leave home, but don’t leave them their own personal “drinking fountain.”
Do you have any additional tips? Let us know in the comments, and take our energy efficiency survey for pet owners.