Not a lot of people know this, but the average domestic cat gives off nearly 20W of heat. Why is this relevant? Because if your home was super-insulated so that it only lost 1kwh of heat a day, then the body heat of a couple of domestic cats could be sufficient to keep the living space warm – at least until the temperature outside was 16° colder than inside.
The total heat lost of a building depends on two main factors – its average heat lost (ie how insulated it is) and the temperature difference between inside and outside. Together these two factors tell you how much heat you need to generate to keep the interior cosy. So in this example your living space set to be a comfortable 20°C, only once the outdoor temperatures fell below 4° would you need to invite additional household pets into the home to boost the heating.
If the building is well insulated enough, the internal gains will be more than the total losses through the building. In other words the number of watts of heat required would be less than the heat given off by occupants and from everyday activities, such as waste heat from appliances, cooking, hot water use, plus any solar gains received through windows.
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