Environment

Canadians are increasingly turning to new energy- and water-saving technologies to reduce their household's impact on the environment and lower their utility bills.

Energy-efficient appliances

In 2009, 54% of households reported having purchased a major appliance—such as a stove, refrigerator, washer or dryer—within the last five years. Energy or water consumption was reported by 64% of these households as the most important factor considered at the time of purchase.

Depending on the cost of water and the amount of water used, households can save upwards of $100 a year by switching from a standard to an ultra-low volume toilet. In 2009, 42% of households reported having a low-volume toilet, compared with 9% of households in 1991. A low-flow showerhead can also decrease water use: a standard showerhead uses 17 litres of water per minute, while a low-flow showerhead uses only 10 litres of water per minute. Their uptake by Canadian households has increased over the last two decades, from 28% in 1991 to 63% in 2009.

Conventional incandescent light bulbs are among the least energy-efficient lights in use today. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), fluorescent tube lights, halogen lights and light-emitting diode (LED) lights are alternatives that require less energy to produce the same amount of light. In 2009, 88% of households had at least one of these lights in their home, with 75% having at least one CFL and 47% having fluorescent tubes. LED lights (excluding holiday lights) were being used by 7% of households.

Heating and cooling

In 2009, 91% of households reported having a thermostat in their dwelling. Almost half (49%) of these households had programmable thermostats, an increase from 42% in 2007.

More than 6 out of  10 households 61%) that had a thermostat lowered the temperature during the winter while they slept, a slight increase from 2007 (55%). Households in Prince Edward Island were most likely to turn the temperature down (66%), while those in New Brunswick and Manitoba were the least likely to do so 58%).

In 2009, half of Canadian homes (50%) reported having some type of air conditioning system. More than two-thirds of these households adjusted the temperature in their dwellings while away from home by either shutting off their air conditioner (55%) or setting the temperature at 24ºC or higher (13%). However, almost one-quarter of households (24%) reported keeping their homes at lower temperatures (23ºC or lower) when no one was at home.

Of households with an air conditioner, 29% reported that they turned it off when sleeping. Households in Atlantic Canada were the most likely to do so (41%), while those in Ontario were the least likely (26%).

Greenhouse gas emissions

From 2007 to 2008, total energy use in Canada declined 2.1%, while emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) fell 2.6%. This occurred at the same time as economic growth as measured by gross domestic product increased slightly.

As a result, both energy intensity and the intensity of GHG emissions declined for many industries in 2008. Intensity is measured in terms of energy use per unit of gross output and emissions per unit of gross output.

Half of the top 10 energy consuming industries showed a decline in the energy use required per unit of output. For the top 10 emitting industries, there was a similar pattern of declines in the quantity of GHG emissions required per unit of output.

Households were the largest users of energy in 2008, accounting for 22.9% of national energy use, an increase from 22.4% in 2007. Total household energy use was stable compared with 2007, as the increase in energy use for home heating and lighting offset a decline in the use of motor fuels.

Primary resource industries were the largest source of GHG emissions in 2008, accounting for 27.4% of total emissions. These industries figure more prominently in GHG emissions than they do in energy use because of fugitive emissions from mining and oil and gas extraction, and the significant contribution of emissions from agricultural soils and livestock.

From a demand perspective, exports and personal expenditure remained the dominant sources of GHG emissions, accounting for 46% and 33% of industrial emissions, respectively.

Chart 12.1 Household  greenhouse gas emissions
View data source for chart 12.1

Date modified: