British Columbia

Furry friends could be costing you hundreds more on your hydro bill

A new study commissioned by BC Hydro shows more than half of British Columbians would rather spend more on their hydro bill to keep their pets comfortable.

BC Hydro study found 52% of pet owners say comfort of their animal more important than saving electricity

The television you leave on for Fido when you leave the house could be costing you hundreds, according to a new study from B.C. Hydro. (Javier Brosch/Shutterstock)

Some B.C. residents are spending upwards of an extra $400 per year on their hydro bills if they're pet owners, according to a new study commissioned by BC Hydro.

The study says while a majority of British Columbians choose to turn off unused lights and electronics when they leave home, many pet owners were not willing to turn off appliances if it would compromise their pet's comfort.

"We found [for] about 52 per cent of those who have a cat or dog, the comfort of their animal is more important than saving electricity," said BC Hydro spokesperson Tanya Fish.

The survey shows some of the most common items left on for pets include heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, as well as lights, the radio, television or a fan throughout the year.

Is it just human guilt?

Canine specialist Annika McDade said keeping electronics running might be unnecessary. She said what a dog wants may not necessarily correlate to what their human owner thinks they want. 

"Leaving the TV on, radio on, or lights on because you feel guilty that they're home alone all day doesn't necessarily make them behave any differently, or have any different emotional reaction to being left alone at home," said McDade.

A cat peeks from behind a wall.
Pet owners may be keeping electronics on to lessen their guilt for leaving their pets at home, says one expert. (Joop Snijder Photography/Shutterstock)

For the most part, she said, your pet will likely have no idea you warmed up the house because they're generally warmer than you, and it's unlikely they need that white noise from your TV or radio.

However, she said there are exceptions — some pets that suffer from anxiety might appreciate the sound of a TV or radio, or a light to help keep them calm when they're alone.

Ways to reduce energy consumption

Fish said BC Hydro is not asking anyone to disregard their pets' comfort.

But she added that there are ways to reduce energy consumption, like turning down your thermostat a few degrees.

"Just by two degrees, you can actually reduce your heating costs by about five per cent," said Fish.

Another suggestion? Consider getting a smartphone connection to your electronics and lighting, so you can control it from your phone when you're out of the house. 

The survey of 800 British Columbians was conducted online between Sept. 20 and 26.