New data shows need to expand low-income energy efficiency funding to target all fuels

Electricity and natural gas account for 90% of low-income energy costs in Canada

Abhi Kantamneni

Research Associate, Efficiency Canada

Brendan Haley

Director of Policy Research, Efficiency Canada

October 19, 2022

Blogs | Low-Income Energy Efficiency | News

  • Efficiency Canada has long emphasized the need for a national low-income energy efficiency strategy.
  • While existing federal programs remove financial barriers for middle and upper-income Canadians, they miss the mark when it comes to low-income households.

    The Survey of Household Spending recently released an update. It provides data on home energy expenditures — how much Canadians spend to fuel their home — up to 2019. The data is broken down by region, household incomes and fuel-types. 

     

    The survey shows that 90% of low-income energy costs in Canada are for electricity and natural gas. 

     

    Average annual household spending on home energy use by fuel type within the lowest income quintile (the poorest 1/5th of Canadians). Use the drop-down on the lower left of the table to see the distribution for all of Canada and for specific regions.

    The data does more than highlight home energy costs — it can inform and improve policy.

     

    In September, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, announced $250 million in federal funding to help low-income Canadians switch from oil to low-carbon heating sources. While the funding addresses several climate and affordability gaps in the federal energy efficiency strategy, it is limited to “other fuel”. 

     

    As we can see from the survey data, this makes up less than 10% of expenditures, leaving most low-income Canadians behind.

     

    Efficiency Canada has long emphasized the need for a national low-income energy efficiency strategy. While existing federal programs remove financial barriers for middle and upper-income Canadians looking to make their homes more energy efficient, they miss the mark when it comes to low-income households. 

     

    This new data reaffirms the need for a dedicated low-income energy efficiency strategy. 

     

    The need to act is urgent. While survey data only allows us to segment data by fuel specific costs up to 2019, total household spending on energy costs for all Canadian households increased by 24% between Q2 of 2019 and 2022.

     

    With energy costs going up, and low-income Canadians spending more on electricity and natural gas than fuel oil, we need a low-income energy efficiency policy that targets all fuels and supports Canadians regardless of where they live. 

     

    Join the call for a national low-income energy efficiency strategy and help remove barriers to energy efficiency upgrades for those who need it most.

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