Creature comforts cost home owners £78 million

Worried pet owners in the UK spend £78 million extra a year on gas and electricity when they turn on the heating, TVs or radios because of concerns their pets will feel cold, stressed or alone while they’re not at home.

Energy Saving Trust research shows two out of five (43%) pet owners admit to leaving the heating on during the day to keep their pets warm, while a quarter (26%) turn on the radio and more than one in ten (15%) leave the TV on to keep them company. In the end, the amount of electricity used to keep pets entertained in the UK is enough to light 56,000 homes for a full year.

More than half (53%) of dog owners and 47% of cat owners, worried their pet will feel cold, decide to keep the heating on when they leave the house. But leaving the heating on all day for your pet could add up to £140 a year to your energy bills and experts say that you could be doing your pet more harm than good.

In the UK the electricity used to keep pets entertained is enough to light 56,000 homes for a full year.


Rosie Barclay, chairwoman of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, says:

“Our pets have different needs when it comes to staying warm and comfortable, but people are often tempted to humanise their pets, thinking they enjoy the same things us.                                                                    

“Dogs and cats by and large are designed for the outdoors and don’t necessarily need the heating left on for them. It’s far better to let the temperature reduce gradually when you head off to work, then gradually increase when you get back. You can do this quite easily by programming your heating."

Ms Barclay further explains that leaving the television on when you go out can actually trigger separation anxiety and stress for your pet. This is because our pets are clever and associate switching on the TV or radio as an indication they are about to be left on their own and not receive your attention. It’s far better to leave your pet with a play toy with a treat hidden inside, or even hide some treats around the house, for example in a cardboard box full of scrunched up paper.

If this isn’t feasible, one alternative is to give them a t-shirt you slept in and it will have your smell on it. This will likely give them far more comfort than any programme on television or the radio.

She added: “If owners are worried about their pets’ behaviour when left alone, they can contact their vet who if necessary will refer them to a qualified animal behaviourist.”



So what now?

We understand Brits love their pets and we’re not asking people to switch things off. Home owners can learn how to heat their home comfortably and affordably, while still pampering their furry friends.

We are urging householders to programme their heating to reduce energy use and save money. Smart thermostats provide the option to control the temperature at home while you’re not there using a smartphone app, so if plans change and you will be home later than expected you needn’t waste any money on heating.


Further information about saving energy in the home can be found at or by calling the Energy Saving Advice Service (England and Wales) on 0300 123 1234 or Home Energy Scotland (Scotland) on 0808 808 2282.

Householders in Northern Ireland may be able to benefit from the Warm Homes scheme – call 0800 988 0559 for further details.  


Richard is the Communications Manager at the Energy Saving Trust.

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Good advice Richard, which we generally follow anyway! We have three cats, who keep each other company when we go away, leaving a neighbour to feed them. My question is, if we went away for a week or so during a very cold spell, would we then be wise to leave the heating on very low for the sake of both the house and the cats? And if so, what temperature would you advise? We don't, alas, have the technology to change heating settings while we're away.