Market Snapshot: Household energy expenditures highest in the Atlantic region, lowest in British Columbia

Release date: 2016-11-23

Household expenditures on energy vary across Canada, with differences due primarily to different heating methods and heating needs.Footnote 1 British Columbia (B.C.), the Prairie Region, and Ontario predominantly use natural gas for heating due to wide-reaching natural gas pipeline infrastructure. As a result, they have similar energy expenditure profiles, although B.C. expenditures are lower because of a milder climate (which reduces heating costs) and lower electricity costs (due to ample supplies of hydroelectricity).

Quebec also generates considerable electricity from its abundant hydroelectric resources. In addition to general household use of electricity, 85% of households in Quebec use electricity as a primary source for heating – the highest percentage of any region in Canada. As a result, energy expenditures in Quebec are nearly as low as those in B.C. Atlantic Canada’s households use a mix of electric, wood, wood pellet, and oil-fired heating due primarily to the region’s sparse population, which has limited the adoption of natural gas throughout the region. Combined with the region’s cool weather, these factors result in Atlantic Canada having the highest household expenditures on energy.

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada CANSIM 203-0021Footnote 2

Description: This stacked column chart illustrates household energy expenditures from 2010 to 2014. The columns are divided into different regions: B.C., the Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba), Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic Region (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island). Expenditures are broken into four components: electricity, natural gas, other fuels (primarily home heating oil), and gas and fuel for vehicles and tools.

B.C. had the lowest overall expenditures, followed by Quebec, Ontario, and the Prairie Region. The Atlantic Region had the highest expenditures. Vehicle fuel comprised about half of household expenditures in all regions across all years. Total expenditure differences among the regions were based primarily on expenditure differences related to electricity, natural gas, and other fuels (heating oil).

Although energy expenditure in Canada increased by an average of 4% per year between 2010 and 2014, energy spending as a share of total household spending remained unchanged at about 6% due to a general increase in total household expenditures. On average, the energy components most responsible for expenditure increases were vehicle fuel, which rose an average of $91 per household per year, and electricity, which rose an average of $51 per household per year.

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