For many of us, the furry little creatures that take up residence in our homes are like family. Because pet owners want their four-legged family members to be comfortable while they’re away, energy management can be a challenge.
Luckily, you don’t have to choose between your pet’s comfort and minimizing energy costs. Following are some energy-saving ideas for the environmentally conscious pet owner:
Though sometimes pets seem human, their bodies are different from ours. Cats and dogs do not have sweat glands, and they have built-in ways to control their body temperature. For instance, in the winter months, dogs develop a thicker coat that they shed in the spring as temperatures start to rise.
The best way to conserve energy while you’re at work or away for extended periods is by installing a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats are designed to adjust the temperature in your home automatically throughout the day and can be set to raise or lower the temperature before you come home from work.
The Alliance to Save Energy recommends pet owners keep their thermostat at 78°-80°F in the summer when the house is empty. In winter months, the thermostat can be set between 65° and 68°F. These are just recommendations, however. You should check with your veterinarian for further insight into the optimum temperatures for your particular breed of animal.
Ceiling fans are great for humans, but they have little cooling effect on animals since they do not produce sweat the way humans do. In addition to the air being wasted on pets who won’t feel the breeze, running ceiling fans does nothing to cool the house. It will just add kilowatt hours to your electric bill.
Lights and Other Electronic Devices
Since Fido and Felix won’t be playing Scrabble in the evening before you get home from work, they don’t need artificial light. Animals set their internal schedules by natural light and darkness. Though light bulbs are not among the household items that use an exorbitant amount of juice, when it comes to saving on the cost of electrical services, every little bit helps. An incandescent bulb costs .75 cents an hour to run, so turning the lights off while you’re away can potentially save hundreds of dollars each year.
Additionally, some pet owners leave the TV on during the day to keep their furry friends company. Dogs, in particular, are prone to separation anxiety, but playing soap operas throughout the day will probably not help. Furthermore, even if you have an Energy Star TV, the unnecessary electricity can add up over the course of a year. Instead, veterinarians suggest leaving some toys or bones out to entertain your pets throughout the day.
Leaky faucets are convenient for pets to drink out of, but they drive up the water bill and waste precious resources as well. A more energy-efficient option would be to fix the leaky faucet and make sure your pets have plenty of water in their bowl before leaving for the day.
Tip for Fish Owners: Recycling aquarium water can help conserve energy. Instead of dumping the water from your fish tank into the sink, use it to water indoor and outdoor plants.
Most pet doors are just plastic flaps that do little to keep in the heat or cool air. Energy-efficient pet doors have many features such as weather stripping and added insulation to help maintain your home’s temperature and reduce thermal energy loss. In addition, some energy-efficient pet doors have dual-pane insulated glass panels that act like dual-pane windows to help reduce the loss of energy through your pet’s major entry/exit point.