The UK is a nation of animal lovers. According to figures released by UK Pet Food, well over half of British households have at least one pet. It’s been estimated that there are now 38 million pets in the country, and that figure has risen 9% over the past year.
Many pet owners would describe their pampered pets as priceless, but taking care of an animal does come at a considerable cost.
When we think about the cost of having a pet, food bills and veterinary fees immediately spring to mind. But a huge number of pet owners are also shelling out substantial sums of money on energy, to ensure that their furry and feathered friends are warm and comfortable all day long.
Research shared by the Energy Saving Trust has revealed that over 40% of pet owners confess to leaving their heating on during the day, to keep pets warm while they’re not at home.
Some pet owners even go so far as to use cameras and monitors, to check on their pets while they’re away. Some also leave TVs and radios on to entertain animals during the day.
Wanting to keep pets warm, comfortable and stimulated is perfectly understandable, of course. But how many pet owners have considered the cost of these actions, in terms of energy usage? We decided to find out.
How much are we spending on energy for our pets?
We uncovered just how much extra it costs in winter – October to March inclusive – to have electrics and appliances on solely for furry friends.
The overall cost of appliances being left on for pets over the winter months was an additional £618.36, an average of £103.06 per month.
Electrical appliances have a power rating, usually given in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW), which denotes how much electricity it needs to work.
The figures were found calculating the kilowatt hour (kWh) of each appliance x the cost of each item for 7.28 hours (average working day) per five working days over a six month period.
Those who leave their central heating on for their pets while they’re at work can expect to pay £444.93 over the course of the winter (with a standard 24kW boiler). The cost of leaving pets with an electric fan heater for warmth is £148.65.
In addition to this a specially designed electric heating pad for animals is far cheaper, costing just £12.38 to run over six months.
Entertainment is often provided for pets, particularly those who are left alone all week. The cost of doing so pales in comparison to the price attached to leaving the heating on for pets, but this too will increase energy bills over time.
If you leave a 40 inch TV on for your pets, you’ll pay an extra £8.33 in energy bills over the winter. Add the radio into the mix and your bills will increase by a further £2.37.
Many pet owners choose to leave monitoring devices switched on in their homes, to enable them to check on pets while they’re at work or away from the house. This too will increase energy bills, however the price increase is minimal at £1.70.
While many of the costs associated with appliances being used for pets aren’t hugely high, when these are combined with higher heating bills they do add up to a considerable amount of energy usage.
Pet owners who use all of the appliances we’ve mentioned, and leave the heating on for their pets, can expect to pay an additional £618.36 for energy over the course of the winter.
How we calculated the price of keeping pets comfortable
To compile this research, JF Heating analysts used information on the energy output of a range of different appliances. The costs of running these appliances was then calculated using the latest available Ofgem prices.
For the purposes of this study, we used the average length of a working day in the UK, which is 7.28 hours. We have also considered the working week to be five days long. All energy usage figures are calculated on an hourly basis. These are then multiplied by 7.28 to give a daily cost, before being scaled up again to calculate the running costs of each appliance.
An average cost of gas heating was calculated using Ofgem statistics, taking into account that the typical boiler used in UK homes is 24kW.
Do animals really need the TV and radio on while we’re out?
The majority of pet owners will go to great lengths to ensure the comfort of their pets while they’re out at work, but are we going too far by leaving televisions and radios on to keep dogs and cats happy?
There is little research to suggest that the noise of a TV or radio makes a difference to dogs, with some studies in fact concluding that animals might benefit more from some quiet time.
Joe Pinkstone, Science Correspondent at the Telegraph suggests that pet owners really are wasting their hard earned money leaving such appliances on for dogs and cats, as they won’t feel any benefit. In an article published last year, Pinkstone writes “research suggests it is possible dogs may benefit more from peace and quiet than listening to an audiobook or Mozart.”
Is heating essential for pets?
Few of us would be happy to be left in an unheated house all day in the coldest weeks of the winter, so it’s easy to see why pet owners might be tempted to switch the heating on for their animals. However, research suggests that this too is unnecessary.
Animal expert Jennifer Dean explains, “cats and dogs are designed for the outdoors and unless they’re particularly vulnerable in terms of their health, or they’re young puppies, you don’t need to leave the central heating on for them when you’re out of the house, even if the mercury plummets outside.”
Dean goes on to say, “The internal body temperature for cats and dogs is around 3ºc to 4ºc higher than for humans, meaning they can be happy and comfortable in much lower temperatures than we can tolerate.”
Energy bills are predicted to rise again this winter, and many UK homeowners will once again be looking for ways to reduce their spending.
JF Heating’s research reveals that a huge number of UK households could make considerable savings, simply by cutting their energy usage while they’re not at home. Pets won’t miss the heating, TV or radio, so a change of habits here could result in hundreds of pounds worth of energy savings.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can reduce your energy bills over the coming months, talk to the team at JF Heating.