Market Snapshot: Household energy expenditures vary significantly by province and territory

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Release date: 2020-07-22

Energy spending makes up a significant part of household expenditures. In 2017, the average Canadian household, excluding the territories, spent $4 281 on energy, or about 5% of its total expenditures. The figure below breaks down household energy expenditures by commodity and region.Footnote 1

Figure 1. Average Canadian household’s annual energy expenditures 2013-2017

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 11-10-0222-01

Description: This column chart represents the average Canadian household’s annual energy expenditures. In 2017, average energy expenditures were $4 281. Households in Atlantic Canada spent the most on energy, just over $5 000 in 2017. Households spent the least in Quebec, with an average of $3 633.

Overall, half of Canadians’ energy expenses are for gasoline fuel for vehicles. The amount spent on gasoline is comparable across provinces. Spending on electricity, natural gas, and other fuels for household use however, varies more significantly across regions. Differences in fuel prices and technologies used for space heating, as well as climate, are key reasons for other regional differences.

Generally, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Quebec rely heavily on electricity for household use. Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia rely heavily on natural gas. Other fuels for household use – mostly heating oil – is mainly used in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Of all provinces, those in Atlantic Canada spend the most on energy. The Territories also face many challenges when it comes to energy. A significant part of their population lives off-grid; they are not connected to the North American electrical grid or natural gas distribution pipeline systems. As a result, many communities rely on expensive diesel-fired generation. Most territorial governments offer subsidies to help offset the considerable cost of energy. For example, the Government of Nunavut covers almost 80% of the Territory’s energy costs.

While the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic remain unclear, the extra time Canadians are spending at home will likely lead to an increase in energy demand from residential appliances and electronics, and a decrease in energy use for personal transportation.

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