Pets can be a joy and comfort. In many households, they are considered members of the family. However, pets can also be expensive, sometimes in ways, you may not have considered. In addition to food and veterinary care, many people end up paying more for their utility bills because of their pets. Read on to learn why, and what you can do to stop your heat and air conditioning costs from getting out of control.

Providing a Warm Environment for Your Pet

A poll by the E. ON company found that half of all households in the United Kingdom kept the heat on and turned on the radio or television when not at home in order for their pets to be comfortable and entertained. There hasn't been data of that nature collected for North America, but anecdotally, many readers probably know someone with similar habits. In fact, the energy bills for pets might be even higher in the United States – with cold winters and warm summers, many pet owners might use both heat and air conditioning to keep Fido happy.

The poll found that half of all dog owners and 40 percent of cat owners heated the house more than they would otherwise, and a quarter of pet owners left the radio on when they left. Younger people between ages 18 and 24 were nearly twice as likely to keep the heat on as people over 55, and 64 percent of men admitted to turning the heat up for their dogs, while only 44 percent of women said the same.

Gravitating to Sunny Areas

Fortunately, it isn’t always necessary to pay higher heat and air conditioning bills to keep your pets comfortable. Pay attention to your animal's behavior – cats naturally gravitate to warm areas like sunny windows and heating vents, for example, regulating their body temperature without requiring you to crank up the heat. And most dogs are equipped to comfortably handle lower temperatures than humans.

“There are many simple things you can do, but the most obvious and cheapest is invest in a timer. You can put the radio on for half an hour when you leave, and by that time your dog or cat will be happy to entertain itself, as much as you are worrying about them!” a spokesperson for the Eco Experts said. “The same applies to the heating, your pet is smart enough to know where the warm/cool spots in the house are. So unless it is extreme Artic or hot weather, there is really no need to go out your way to accommodate their needs. Let’s not forget animals are designed for the outdoors.”

Keep Your Pets Safe and Healthy

While you don't necessarily need to go to special lengths to accommodate your cats and dogs, it is important to provide them with a safe space sheltered from wind, rain and extreme heat and cold. If you need any work done on your heat and air conditioning system to keep both you and your pets happy, contact an HVAC specialist today.