How to be an energy-efficient pet owner

By Samantha Vercellino

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Bentley and Max may be the cutest models we’ve ever had!

We love our pets—so much that we celebrate 115 pet awareness events throughout the year! (Don’t believe me? Check for yourself.) But living with a furry, feathery or scaly sidekick can make it a real challenge to be energy efficient.

Follow these simple actions to make sure your energy bills don’t come between you and your animal sidekick.

1) Be wise with the thermostat. The thought that your pet is freezing in the bitter cold—or sweltering in the heat—while you’re at work can be enough to drive you mad. But don’t let those thoughts keep you from setting your programmable thermostat a little lower in the winter and higher in the summer. Unlike humans, pets have unique ways of dealing with the warmth (that notorious panting) and cold (think furry coats) that humans don’t.

The Alliance to Save Energy says that for most pets you can save money and set your thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter. The regular body temperature for dogs and cats is 3-4 degrees higher than for humans, so they won’t mind. But check first with your veterinarian to see what temperature is best for your pet.

Still feeling guilty? Invest in a smart thermostat and control your home’s temperature from your smartphone or other devices when you’re away.

2) Don’t be afraid of the dark. When it comes to our furry, feathery or scaly friends, we’ll protect them from anything, even the dark. However, there’s no need to light the house when you’re not there. Animals rely on natural light and darkness for their internal schedules, and don’t need artificial light. (Dogs and cats can even see in the dark!) Think about purchasing motion senor lights if leaving your pet in a darkened room scares you. They’ll light the way without lighting up your electric bill.

3) The show must NOT go on.  It’s a nice gesture to leave the television on for your pet to keep them company but he or she can’t really understand what’s going on. Dogs and cats see television shows in a series of images (like a flipbook) rather than a moving picture. The foreign noise may actually confuse your beloved pet and prevent it from resting. Opt for toys and bones to entertain your pets–they’ll love them and so will your power bills.

4) Your pets are not fans of ceiling fans. Our pets don’t produce sweat the way we do. In fact, most cuddly felines only sweat through the pads of their feet. Pets don’t need your ceiling fan to stay cool, so turn it off when you’re not home during the summer. (The same goes for the winter, when fans can be a big help circulating warm air.) Running the fan only runs up your energy bill—and does nothing to make your home more comfortable for your pet.

5) Install better doggie doors. Doggie doors give your pet the freedom to come and go as it pleases, but they also waste a lot of energy by allowing your home’s warm and cold air to escape. Ensure your hard-earned money stays in your pocket by replacing your current door with an energy-efficient model.  (Look for models that are insulated and have airtight seals.) If you’re not ready to get a new door, keep your current door well-caulked.

Do even more for your pet and wallet book by visiting CUB Energy Saver. It’s a free, online tool that can help you save potentially hundreds of dollars a year on your power bills.

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About Jim Chilsen

Jim is director of communications for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)
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