Monday, December 6, 2010

Pet lover green tip: Reduce energy consumption

Two cats in one bed
This week, I'll be writing a series of articles outlining things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your animals.

Let's start with the obvious: Reduce the amount of energy you spend on keeping your animals "comfortable."

A passing glance through any animal supply catalog will turn up an alarming amount of devices that need to be plugged in. Water dishes, orthopedic beds and videos are just a few examples. I'll bet you have many of these devices, too. But do you need them all?

Look at how much your animal actually benefits from these items before you plug them in and ignore them. If your dog only spends his nights in his heated bed, don't plug it in all day. If your cat doesn't watch television, don't play the video on your DVD player all day. In general, opt for toys, beds and accessories that do not have to be connected to a power source.

Similarly, consider how much energy you spend on the atmosphere of your house. Your cats likely do not need to have the living room lights on all day, as cats have wonderful low-light vision. Nor do they need to have the heat cranked to 70 degrees. (My cats prefer to have the house a little cooler, as it gives them more snuggling opportunities.) Dogs with separation anxiety may benefit from a radio playing while you're out. But if your dog is not nervous and does fine without it, leave the radio off.

Reducing your energy consumption in even these small ways can have a big impact on the amount of energy power companies need to generate.