How Poor Energy Efficiency Can Put Your Pet at Risk

While we often talk about the effects of poor energy efficiency on humans and their comfort, we can’t forget about our furry friends. Dogs, especially, are even more at risk for temperature fluctuations than humans are, which means these hot summers can be especially dangerous for those without a working HVAC system, and those whose homes have poor insulation.

Inefficient energy practices in a home, such as poor insulation or inadequate air conditioning, can lead to dangerously high temperatures that significantly threaten the well-being of pets. And while it’s easy to envision the dangers of a broken AC, it’s important to note that your pet may be at risk for excessive heat even when your AC is largely functioning.

The Impact of High Temperatures on Pets

Pets can be highly sensitive to heat. Unlike humans, many pets, such as dogs and cats, are limited in their ability to manage heat stress since they do not sweat extensively and primarily rely on panting to cool down.

Pets are so sensitive, in fact, that temperatures above 80°F are enough to pose risks, especially to older dogs or if your home is high humidity. 80+ degrees is extremely common, even in homes with a working AC, if the rest of the home is not energy efficient.

Should indoor temperatures reach into the 90s°F, pets can begin to suffer from heat-related stress, which can have both short and long term consequences. And while temperatures above 90 degrees are unlikely with a working air conditioner, if your AC breaks, your home could easily surpass 90 degrees during Sacramento’s hottest days, putting your pet at risk for issues like heat stroke.

High temperatures can also cause pets to lose fluids rapidly. This increased risk of dehydration necessitates constant access to fresh, cool water to help maintain normal body functions, but if you are not home, you may not be aware that your pet is in need of water.

What Causes Poor Energy Efficiency?

California Energy Consultant Service is an energy efficiency company, so we work with homes throughout Sacramento that have – or are at risk for – issues with energy efficiency. Typically, these can include problems such as:

  • Single Pane or Leaky Windows – Old windows, single pane windows, or those with air leaks can often have significant energy efficiency issues that can lead to homes heating up quickly.
  • Poor Insulation – Older homes in Sacramento often have siding and roofing with very poor insulation. Without adequate insulation, extremely hot days are likely to heat up your home no matter how hard your HVAC is working.
  • Poorly Functioning HVAC Systems – Of course, the primary risk is going to be your HVAC. If yours is not functioning properly, not ideal or strong enough for your home, or broken, your home is going to heat up quickly in a way that can be dangerous for your pet.

The good news is that it is hard for homes to heat up fast. Unless your AC breaks on an especially hot day with very poor energy efficiency, you should be able to notice if your home heats up too quickly and make necessary changes to keep your pet safe.

But the bad news is that constant dehydration and overheating isn’t good for your pet, and the effects of that may not be seen right away. Even though your home may not overheat to dangerous levels immediately, if your property maintains 80+ degrees of heat for an extended period of time, it may have long term consequences for your pet.

What Can You Do?

If your home has poor energy efficiency, and you’ve been putting off new siding, HVAC, windows, or roofing, now is the time to consider it. You can replace windows, get energy efficient metal roofing, install insulation during new siding construction, and much more, and doing so should help protect you and your pets from heatstroke and dehydration.

Until then, make sure that you are at least getting your regular HVAC maintenance and tune-ups, and try not to leave your pet at home for too long alone, even with a  working AC, so you can always check to make sure that it is not overheating.

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