This is an archived version of this report. Please refer to the latest version of the
2007 Survey of Household Energy Use (SHEU-2007) – Summary Report.
From 1993 to 2003, the energy consumed in the residential sector for space cooling has more than doubled.19 Furthermore, as previously reported in the "Trends in Household Energy Use" section of this report, there has been a noticeable increase in the penetration rate of air-conditioning systems in Canadian households over the same period. Because of these trends, SHEU-2003 collected information on the characteristics and usage tendencies of residential air-conditioning and ventilation systems.
Almost 45 percent of Canadian households were equipped with some type of air-conditioning system in 2003 (see Chart 35). Options available to consumers for air-conditioning their dwellings include window/room air conditioners, central air conditioners and heat pumps. Within Canada, there were significant regional differences in the penetration rates of air-conditioning systems. As expected, the regions with the warmest summers – Quebec, Ontario and the Prairies – also had the highest penetration rates for air-conditioning systems.
Nearly three out of every four households in Ontario were equipped with an air-conditioning system in 2003. These systems accounted for 60 percent of all the residential air-conditioning systems in Canada. Other regions had much lower penetration rates. Both Quebec and the Prairies had rates of 32 percent, while 18 percent of households in British Columbia and 9 percent of households in the Atlantic region were equipped with an air-conditioning system.
Central air-conditioning systems were the most prevalent type of air-conditioning system in Canadian households (see Chart 36). Over 25 percent of households were equipped with a central system in 2003. Window/room air conditioners were also commonly used in households, as 15 percent of households were equipped with this type of system. The third type of air-conditioning system – heat pumps – was not as prevalent across the country. Only 4 percent of households were equipped with one, and three quarters of these households were also equipped with either a central or window/room air conditioner. Given these findings, further analysis will deal only with central and window/room air-conditioning systems.
Usually, central air conditioners are used to cool an entire dwelling, while window/room air conditioners are used to cool a small space. SHEU-2003 found that this generality was valid, as central air conditioners were more prevalent in larger dwellings, such as single detached or double/row houses, while window/room air conditioners were more prevalent in smaller dwellings, such as low-rise apartments and mobile homes.
Additionally, the year of construction of a dwelling also appears to influence the type of air-conditioning system likely to be found within that dwelling (see Chart 37). The penetration rate for central air-conditioning systems has generally increased in dwellings constructed in each succesive period, peaking at 34 percent for dwellings constructed during 1990-2003. In contrast, the pentration rate for window/room air conditioners has steadily decreased, from 22 percent for dwellings constructed before 1946 to 11 percent for dwellings constructed during 1980-1989. The rate remained stable at 11 percent for dwellings constructed during 1990-2003.
Central ventilation systems, also known as air exchangers, can improve a dwelling's indoor air quality and reduce indoor humidity levels.20 Despite these benefits, only 11 percent of dwellings were equipped with a central ventilation system in 2003.
A regional analysis found that the penetration rates for these systems were highest in regions east of Ontario, as 22 percent of dwellings in the Atlantic region and 17 percent of dwellings in Quebec were equipped with a system (see Chart 38). Conversely, Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia had much lower penetration rates, at 8 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent respectively.
19 Natural Resources Canada, Energy Use Data Handbook – 1990 and 1997 to 2003, p. 22.
20 Natural Resources Canada, Moisture Problems (fact sheet) – EnerGuide for Houses, Ottawa, 2003, p. 4.