A Balancing Act: Pet Comfort and Saving Energy at Home

Man’s best friend—he’s your door greeting, tail wagging, food bowl drooling, ball chasing, toy chewing BFF. Chances are, your four legged friend has become more like a member of your family. However, this member of the family doesn’t know to turn off the lights when they leave a room or turn the TV off when they are finished watching.

Your pet could be costing you on your utility bill, but how do you balance their comfort and happiness with being conscious of how much energy you’re using at home? These tips can help!

Set your thermostat to save

You know you should turn your thermostat up in the summer when you’re away from the house or sleeping, but if you’re leaving your pets home what should the thermostat really be set at? Sources say 78-80 degrees is the best temperature when your pets will be home. Please consult with your veterinarian if your pet has a health condition. Leave them plenty of water and as an extra treat, throw some ice cubes in (how can you resist these opens in a new window dog-shaped ice cubes)?! If you’re taking them with you, you can turn the temperature up even more for additional savings.

Turn off lights and ceiling fans

Think your pet is afraid of the dark? Think again. Natural light is the most soothing for pets, even if it’s filtered by drapes or blinds. Also, pets don’t feel the cool breeze of a ceiling fan like us humans, so it’s best to keep it off when you’re not home. Your four-legged friend will keep cool by panting—tongue out, drooling and all opens in a new window.

Treat windows that receive direct sunlight

Bathing in the sun may be your pet’s favorite sunny afternoon activity, but all that heat gain can affect the temperature of your home and make your cooling system turn on more often. Putting window film on your windows opens in a new window, or closing most of the blinds will help while not getting in the way of your pup’s sun time.

Turn off electronics

Now that I am a pet owner, I can almost understand the theory behind leaving the television or radio on all day for your pet—almost. Did you know 7 in 8 people leave certain electronic items on to entertain their dog? opens in a new window Turns out a ball, chew toy, or deer antler will do the trick of keeping them occupied while not using unnecessary electricity while you’re gone—win, win!

Yes, it’s hot out there, but the good news is you can balance being a responsible pet owner and saving energy at the same time. We need everyone’s help, including the four-legged community members, if we are going to take home the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize opens in a new window

Posted by: Brenna Reed. Brenna is the Sustainability Educator for the City of Columbia and is coordinating the City’s competitive efforts in the Georgetown University Energy Prize opens in a new window.