If a measure of current U.S. home electricity consumption is any indication, the call for more energy-efficient homes, appliances and electronics has been heeded. According to a recent ABC News report, the Energy Information Administration is expecting home electricity consumption for 2013 to drop for the third year in a row. It is a testament to all the efforts appliance manufacturers, home builders, home owners and others have made to find efficiencies and do more with less energy.
Still, when it comes to energy costs, pet owners may be at a disadvantage. The Florida Power & Light (FPL) Company says that pet owners may be spending more money on energy in their effort to keep their pets comfortable, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported recently.
In a survey of more than 1,500 Florida adults, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of FPL this past fall, 58 percent of respondents owned a dog, a cat or bird, and 86 percent of those pet owners are leaving on electronics when they are not home for their pets' sake. Not surprisingly, pet owners report leaving on lights and TVs for their companion animals. They also run fans and air conditioning-and naturally, in the colder climates, it is reasonable to assume people are heating their homes during the day while they are out to keep their pets warm.
FPL encourages its customers to take an Online Home Energy Survey to receive a personalized energy savings plan with tips and recommendations that can help them save up to $250 a year in energy costs, without impacting their companion animals.
Retailers, of course, can help out, as well, by sharing some key tips with their customers. Here are a few tips from the Citizens Utility Board of Illinois, a nonprofit, nonpartisan utility watchdog organization:
Use a programmable thermostat. There is an obvious benefit to being able to program the thermostat for various times of day, but pet owners should also be reminded that pets are easier to please than most humans. The general rule is 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter-depending on the breed and a vet's recommendation.
It's OK to turn off the ceiling fans. Fans for humans work particularly well when they facilitate the evaporation of sweat off the skin, cooling the person down. Dogs and cats don't sweat, so fans won't have the same effect. Plus, a thick coat may prevent a pet from feeling the breeze of fan at all.
It's also OK to turn off the lights. Pets, generally, don't need artificial light.
Birds don't do well in a draft. Protect pet birds from drafts, as most originate from tropical places and prefer warmer temperatures. Seal drafty windows and doors to keep pet birds comfortable.
For several more tips, click here.
On the Market:
Here are a couple of products that may help keep pets cozy no matter the temperature while their owners are away:
Enchanted Home Pet's Ultra Plush Pet Furniture features the company's SNOOzZzONE Pet Comfort System. The system comprises interchangeable layers, including a self-warming thermal reflective layer to keep help keep pets warm when temperatures drop and a gel core comfort layer for cooler, more comfortable sleep.
SolBox, from Pawsitive Lighting, is an energy-efficient, mood-boosting light box that delivers 10,000 Lux—the same amount of light the sun delivers on a clear day. It is designed specifically for pets, and it is also the smallest light box to deliver this level of light, according to the company.