Market Snapshot: Cold Weather in the East and Warm Weather in the West impacted Canada’s 2015 Energy Demand

Release date: 2015-12-10

Space heating generally comprises 60-70 per cent of Canada’s residential energy use and 40-50 per cent of commercial energy useFootnote 1. As a result, variations in weather significantly impact Canadian energy demand, and heating degree days (HDDs)Footnote 2 serve as an important energy use indicator.

HDD data up to November 2015 shows that, compared to 2014, Quebec and Atlantic Canada have had higher HDDs, Ontario has had similar numbers, and western Canadian HDDs have decreased. However, because the majority of Canada’s HDDs occur in the winter, weather patterns during the final month of 2015 will play an important role in determining Canada’s total HDDs and energy use for the year.

Figure Source and Data

Source: Environment Canada

Description: This column chart compares the sum of heating degree days from January to November in 2014 and 2015 for various Canadian cities. St. John’s, Halifax, and Montreal had higher heating degree days in 2015. Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver had lower levels in 2015.

Natural gas is a primary fuel for space heating in Canada, and year-to-date natural gas sales figuresFootnote 3 show the impact that weather trends can have on energy use. From January to September 2015, total western Canadian residential and commercial natural gas demand was 3.8 per cent lower than during the same period in 2014. This drop is consistent with lower space heating requirements due to warmer weather in western Canada, which uses natural gas as its primary fuel for heating. Natural gas sales in Quebec and Atlantic Canada’s residential and commercial sectors are nine per cent higher than in 2014, in part reflecting higher HDDs in those provincesFootnote 4.

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