- UK dog owners spend £232 million on energy each year leaving on TVs, radios, lighting, heating and fans for their dogs
- More than eight in ten (82%) owners leave on at least one appliance in the hope of providing comfort and company for their dog when they leave the house
- But Battersea Dogs & Cats Home voices concern for pets left home alone with only appliances for company
- Dogs watch around 214 hours of TV per year – equivalent to more than two years’ of EastEnders – with BBC One the most-watched channel
- They also listen to almost 300 hours of radio – enough for over 1,000 episodes of The Archers – with easy listening stations the top choice
- Dog owners could be overpaying £45 million per year by not switching to the best energy deal
- Tropical fish and tortoises among most energy intensive household pets.
The nation’s dog owners spend an estimated £232 million a year on energy by leaving on electrical items while they leave the home, according to a new survey by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.
It’s well known that the UK is a nation of animal lovers, so it’s little surprise that dog owners worry about their pet’s wellbeing when left alone. In the hope of providing some canine companionship, more than eight in ten (82%) owners leave on at least one appliance when they leave home. Keeping the lights on is most common (61%), followed by the heating in winter (60%), the radio (47%), fans in summer (46%) and the TV (42%).
Dog owners who leave the TV on for their pet do so for an average of 214 hours per year – enough time to watch two years’ worth of EastEnders. Across all dog-owning households, this adds up to over 583 million hours of TV per year. One in three (29%) owners who leave the TV on choose BBC One, making it the most popular channel for dogs, followed by ITV1 (25%). Four per cent choose to leave on Dog TV, making it as popular among canines as Channel 4 (4%) and more popular than Channel 5 (2%).
According to the new figures, owners also leave on radios for their dogs for 298 hours per year – the equivalent of 1,192 episodes of The Archers – with easy listening stations the top choice (32%) followed by pop music (23%) and talk radio (17%).
But Battersea Dogs & Cats Home warns that, whilst many owners may believe they’re providing for their pets’ needs by leaving on appliances, TVs and radios are no substitute for human company and regular exercise. The charity is urging the public to think carefully before rehoming a dog or cat, and to take steps to ensure their pet is cared for when they can’t be at home with it.
Battersea’s Head of Canine Behaviour & Training, Ali Taylor, says: “Dogs are generally sociable animals and crave company. So many pets suffer from insecurity problems and separation related problems when their owner leaves them alone in the home and this can result in destructive behaviour or signs of depression. Whilst owners may think that leaving a TV or radio on will provide some form of noise distraction and company, the reality is that this is definitely no substitute for human companionship. Dogs in particular need to get out and about to meet and socialise with other people and animals and to enjoy all the sights, smells and sounds that our streets and parks have to offer.”
The amount of energy used by pet owners is set to increase as people invest in bigger and better TV sets, as well as a host of gadgets designed specifically for dogs. According to the research, one in three (29%) dog owners plan to buy their dog some sort of electric gadget – including home monitoring cameras (11%), GPS trackers (10%) and even canine activity trackers to help keep them fit (7%).
The survey also found that 28% of owners put the needs of their dog above their own. Almost one in three (29%) say that they love their dog more than some other family members and a quarter (25%) would even be happy to cook them homemade meals.
While dogs contribute to household energy bills, they are not the most energy intensive pet to keep at home. Tropical fish – which require dedicated tanks, filters and lighting – top the chart, costing up to £494 of energy a year, or almost half the average standard big six energy bill.
Table: energy intensive pets
|Pet||Estimated annual energy cost|
Source: uSwitch.com research
Claire Osborne, uSwitch.com energy expert, says: “There’s never been any doubt that we Brits love our dogs like family and these figures show how much we like to pamper them, even when we’re not at home. But while dog owners may have the best intentions at heart, it’s important to heed the advice of vets and animal experts and avoid leaving pets home alone for extended periods of time. And, when electrical devices are left on unattended, there’s an impact on energy bills as well as increased safety risks.
“We’d also encourage dog owners to check whether they could be saving £337 a year – which could be enough to pay for a year’s worth of dog food – just by switching energy provider.”
For more information please visit our Pet Power page.