Conserving Energy is Great — Just Make Sure to Keep Your Pets Safe!

Whether you’re getting back into the groove of working in person or running lots of errands on a Saturday, you’re probably leaving your pets at home for an extended period of time. If you’re used to turning off the AC when you leave your place to save electricity, you should first make sure it’s a safe and comfortable environment for your furry friends! We did the research so you don’t have to guess — keep reading to learn about how to make HVAC decisions that keep your pets safe.

 

A medium-sized white and tan dog lying down on a brown couch looking at the camera

Lights, Thermostat, Action!  

When you leave the house, you probably turn off all the lights because keeping them on when no one is home is a waste of money and energy. If you have pets, do you take their needs into consideration before leaving? For example, if it’s dark out, do you leave one light on so your pooch isn’t trapped in total darkness? If you have a pet cat though, you probably don’t give the lights a second thought because cats see better in the dark anyway!

Similarly to turning off lights, many people are in the habit of changing their thermostat — up to 10º warmer or cooler depending on the season — when they’ll be out of the house for a few hours. While this practice is a great way to conserve energy, and thus, lower your utility bill, it could be endangering your pets if done haphazardly. It is crucial to keep your animals’ various needs in mind when making any kind of energy conservation strategy because your pet’s safety should be more important than saving a few bucks each month.

A person sitting at a table with a laptop open. A large blonde dog is laying down on the floor next to the person

How Do Pets Tolerate Variations in Temperature? 

When you’re at home with your pets, a standard room temperature somewhere around 72ºF probably feels great for you and your fur babies. Both cats and dogs have the ability to regulate their body temperature much more effectively than humans, so they’re fairly good at adapting to their current environment, but there are some very important caveats. Some factors that influence a pet’s tolerance to variations in temperature include:

Coat Type: Animals with thicker, fluffier coats essentially have permanent jackets on, making it easy to keep warm in cold climates. However, because their thick coats are designed to trap in heat, these animals are more prone to experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. On the other hand, animals with short, thin fur or hairless varieties prefer warmer-than average ambient temperatures because their bodies aren’t as good at trapping in heat. Chihuahuas are known for shivering often, which is why many have heated beds and prefer higher-than-average thermostat settings. 

Size and Weight: In terms of breed and species size, the smaller the animal, the faster it will get cold; the larger the animal, the faster it will get hot. However, weight also plays a role in temperature sensitivity, with heavier or overweight animals possessing an extra layer of insulation. Underweight pets lack that fatty insulation, so they are much more prone to being cold. 

Age and Health: Pets that are very young or very old need warmer temperatures to stay comfortable, whereas their middle aged counterparts can tolerate a wider range of temperatures. An animal’s overall health can also affect their temperature tolerance. For example, cold temperatures can exacerbate pain for pets with arthritis or other joint issues, so keep this in mind when turning the dial. 

Even with these additional factors in mind, the general rule is, if you’re comfortable, your pets are most likely also comfortable.

 

A small gray and white kitten sleeping on a brown chair with a toy mouse next to it

Safe Temperatures for Cats

If you have only cats and no dogs, you’ve got a bit more flexibility with your thermostat during the summer because cats appreciate a warmer environment. For times when it’s hot out and you’re running the AC most of the time you’re home, you can safely add 10º to it when you’re out of the house. For instance, if you typically keep your thermostat set to 72º, you can change it to 82º in your absence. This change doesn’t mean the heat will turn on; it means the air conditioning will stay off until your home’s temperature reaches 82º which will prompt the AC to cycle on and off to maintain that temperature. While 82º might seem uncomfortably warm for most people, it is fine for a cat — just make sure your cat has access to lots of fresh water!

A pug sitting on a bed wrapped in a light brown blanket with only the dog's face visible

Safe Temperatures for Dogs 

In a dog-only house or one with cats and dogs, you should adjust your thermostat to ensure the dog’s safety. Because a dog’s range of temperature tolerance is smaller than a cat’s, it is important to make sure you are making decisions that are safe for all of your pets. The average temperature range for a dog’s safety falls entirely within a cat’s range, so following a dog’s guidelines means all your furry friends will feel comfortable. With that said, in order to keep your dog safe, you shouldn’t set your thermostat above 78-80º. Generally, smaller dogs will be okay with the temperature up to 80º, but stick to 78º as the upper limit for large dogs or ones with very thick coats. 

TemperaturePro Cares About Your HVAC System and Your Pets

If you’re worried about any part of your home’s HVAC system, don’t hesitate to give your local TemperaturePro location a call! We’re always happy to help troubleshoot and solve any problems, offer advice, and ensure optimal comfort for you and your pets.