For many people, pets are just as much as part of the family as the kids and grandparents. You want them to be comfortable, no matter what the conditions are like outside. On the other hand, everyone in the family needs to contribute to saving energy. Here's how to keep your furry friends from freezing or boiling while you keep your energy bills under control.

All year round

  • Set a programmable thermostat. No matter the season, you should install and set a programmable thermostat that helps you save energy while you're not home. Just remember not to set it so high or low as to make it uncomfortable for your pets. Keep in mind that body temperature for cats and dogs is 3-4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than for humans.
  • Turn off the lights. Pets are attuned to the natural rhythms of day and night. Leaving a light on during the day may actually interrupt their sleep cycles.
  • Turn off the TV or radio. Constant sound from TVs and radios can interrupt their sleep during the day. If your pet does like some noise, try putting the radio or TV on a timer so it doesn't stay on all day. Toys are much better at entertaining your pet than the TV.

During the winter

  • Set out blankets or beds for your pets to snuggle in. Layer a blanket on your bed if you know that's where he's going to sleep when you're away. If your pet is confined to a room with tile or hardwood floors in the winter, it is especially important he has somewhere warm to sleep.
  • Dress your dog in a sweater. Small and elderly dogs often need an extra layer to keep them warm.
  • Make sure your outside dog house is well-constructed and insulated. The opening should not allow rain or snow to get inside.

During the summer

  • Make sure shade is available at all times and keep water in shady spots. It's a good idea to have more than one water dish – this better ensures your pet won't dump all his water and will have something cool to drink at different parts of the day. Add ice to keep the water cooler longer.
  • Turn off the ceiling fan. Pets aren't covered in sweat glands the way humans are, so the fan doesn't do them much good.
  • Be careful about pools. Many dogs (and a few cats!) love to go swimming to keep cool, but bodies of water can be just as dangerous for pets as they can be for children. Keep the gate closed around your built-in pool and empty any children's pools before leaving your pet outside.

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