This is how ownership of pets may have had an adverse impact on energy use, creating their very own ‘carbon pawprint

With lockdown now easing and Brits slowly heading back to normality, new research from E.ON with 2,000 pet owners has found more than half (56 per cent) have adopted various habits to help keep their pets calm and comfortable.

Many of these habits can increase households’ carbon emissions – something which almost half (49 per cent) of pet owners surveyed are unaware of.

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For those who are slowly heading back into the workplace, over a third (39 per cent) said they’re concerned with how this may affect their pampered pet.

TV for pets

More than six in ten (64 per cent) put devices on when they leave their pet on their own, including the TV (43 per cent) and radio (44 per cent).

When asked why they leave devices on for their pets, more than half (58 per cent) said it’s to keep their pet company.

Chris Lovatt, Chief Operating Officer of E.ON Energy Infrastructure Services, said: “Sustainability is at the heart of all we do at E.ON; we provide all of our customers’ homes with 100% renewable electricity and a range of smart home solutions.

“With many people being unaware of the impact owning a pet can have on their carbon footprint, we’re keen to help encourage pet owners to think more broadly about how they can make sustainable changes in the home. Whether that’s through effective monitoring of energy use with a smart meter, energy efficient appliances, or installing a new and efficient boiler, we believe in a smart, personalised and sustainable energy future for our customers.”

When choosing which TV shows to leave on, Line of Duty (12 per cent), EastEnders (12 per cent) and Planet Earth (17 per cent) were among pet owners’ favourites. Other popular shows included Blue Planet (17 per cent), Coronation Street (12 per cent) and This Morning (11 per cent).

Looking for new ways to be green

Separate research by E.ON with 2,000 pet owners found almost two fifths (37 per cent) of pet owners confirmed if they knew the extent of their energy use when caring for their pet, they’d try new ways to decrease it and become more sustainable.

To help pet owners across the country care for their pet more sustainably, E.ON has teamed up with expert vet and TV presenter, Dr Scott Miller, to provide his top five tips:

Keep it cool – Stress and anxiety can lead to an increase in your pets’ body temperature, something which is exacerbated by a warm house. Try to keep things a little cooler when leaving your pet alone to help reduce stress levels. And make sure that you have an energy efficient boiler for those colder days when you do need the heating on – you’ll save both energy and spend less on your heating bills while still keeping your pet comfortable. E.ON’s tado° smart thermostat is another great way to manage your home’s temperature when you’re not there. It not only monitors the weather forecast for you, but also allows you to control your heating from your phone.

Turn on the TV – Outside sounds and strange noises can worsen separation anxiety, so use gentle background noise, such as a radio or TV to muffle these and reduce any negative reactions to them.

While this is an energy-consuming way of soothing your pet, you can cut down how much power you use simply by turning down the TV screen brightness. Keep an eye on your energy use with a smart meter to help make sure you’re only using the energy you need to when keeping your pet calm and comfortable. And ensure you’re with an energy supplier that provides 100% renewable electricity, like E.ON.

What you can do

Enrich their environment – From toys to interactive food gadgets, there are so many great ways to entertain your pet when you leave the house.

Encouraging your pet to ‘work’ for their food, stimulating their problem-solving abilities and engaging them in a task are all great ways to focus your dog or cat on something positive rather than the negative feelings of your departure.

To light or not to light – Many owners like to keep a light on for their pampered pets, something which can use up a lot of energy over time. But many pet owners might not be aware that dogs are naturally nocturnal and can see better in the dark than you can.

If this habit is one that you can’t quite break, try using energy efficient LED light bulbs or a timer to save energy and keep your pet comfortable.

Practice makes perfect – If your pet is suffering with the common issue of separation anxiety as lockdown eases, you must try to keep some separation from them even when you’re in the house together.

Have an area for them to relax on their own, use stairgates and slowly increase the time you spend out of the house away from them in short increments, using toys and treats to divert their attention from your departure.

Pet cameras can be a useful tool to help gauge the level of your pet’s anxiety, and always consider the help of a local specialist pet behaviourist who can help understand, support and manage separation anxiety in your furry friends.