Energy Use in the Residential Sector
- Energy efficiency in homes improved 46%, saving Canadians $13.3 billion in energy costs in 2015 – averaging $78/household per month in savings.
- Although residential energy use increased 8.4% from 1990 to 2015, it would have increased 54% without energy efficiency improvements.
- Energy efficiency helped avoid 27.8 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.
- Thanks to energy efficiency, energy use per household decreased, despite increased living space and appliance use.
Overview - a growing sector
Residential energy indicators
|People per household||2.8||2.5|
|Living space||122 m2||143 m2|
|Households||9.9 million||14.1 million|
|Appliances per household||15||23|
|Occupied floor space cooled||22%||57%|
Canadians spent $31.2 billion on household energy needs in 2015. Most of the energy used (4/5) was for space heating and water heating. Predominant fuels were natural gas, electricity and home heating oil. Other fuels included wood and propane.
Distribution of residential energy use by end use, 2015
|Residential energy use||Percentage|
All facets of energy use in the home have experienced an increase in energy efficiency over time, resulting in a dramatic decline in energy use per household and per unit of floor space.
Residential energy intensity per household and floor space, 1990–2015
|Energy intensity per household (GJ/household)||Energy intensity per floor space (GJ/m2)|
Isolating the effect of energy efficiency
Without energy efficiency gains, energy use would have increased 54% instead of 8.4%.
Adjusting for weather and growth in the sector, as well as a small change in make-up of the housing sector (more attached homes and apartments), we can isolate and measure the energy efficiency effect.
Impact of activity, structure, service level, weather and energy efficiency on the change in residential energy use, 1990–2015
|Total change in energy use||119.4|
|Service level effect||88.6|
|Energy efficiency effect||-656.1|
The energy efficiency savings of 656 PJ offset the vast majority of the impact of higher activity levels, more appliances and slightly colder weather.
Residential energy use, with and without energy efficiency improvements, from 1990 to 2015
|Energy use without energy efficiency improvements||Energy use with energy efficiency improvements|
- Installing weather-stripped doors and double glass windows
- Improving airtightness requirements
- Keeping insulated basements, walls, ceilings and attics
- Using programmable thermostats
Residential fuel share
|Wood and other||18|
Space heating energy intensity and heating degree-day index, 1990-2015
|Space heating energy intensity||Heating degree-day index|
Water heating - the second largest use of energy in the home
A shift from oil-fired water heaters to more efficient natural gas heaters and more stringent energy standards for all water heaters helped to lower water heating energy use per household. Canadians have also altered energy consumption in water heating by switching to efficient practices such as:
- Switching to tankless water heaters
- Installing low-flow fixtures on showerheads and faucets
- Using dishwashers and clothes washers in full loads
- Using cold water
Water heating energy use by fuel type, 1990 and 2015 (petajoules)
A greater number of households surpassed energy efficiency improvements, resulting in an increase in residential water heating of 230.8 PJ in 1990 to 288.8 PJ in 2015.
Appliances - more appliances, more efficiency
Although there was an improvement in the energy efficiency of appliances, the amount of energy saved from major appliances was more than offset by the increased energy use from minor appliances, such as electronics.
Residential energy use and appliance stock index by appliance type, 1990 and 2015
|Major appliance energy use||148.5||112.9|
|Minor appliance energy use||28.3||88.4|
|Major appliance stock index||1.0||1.6|
|Minor appliance stock index||1.0||2.5|
A dishwasher purchased in 2015 was three times more efficient than one produced in 1990; a refrigerator purchased in 2015 required half the energy needed for one produced in 1990.
While the number of major appliances used in households increased 57.0%, the energy they consumed decreased 35.6%.
Energy consumption of new major household appliances, 1990 and 2015
|Electric clothes dryer||1103||922|
In contrast to major appliance energy use trends, the energy used for smaller appliances, such as televisions, computers and mobile phones more than doubled in two decades.
Fortunately, the 60-PJ increase in minor appliances use was partially offset by 36-PJ decrease in major appliances.
The number of home internet access and gadgets (smartphones, video game consoles and tablets) per household exploded between 1990 and 2015. The average number of gadgets per person grew from 2 in 2012 to 3 in 2015. Another example of a soaring gadget was the video game console, growing from less than 4,000 in 1990 to 8.2 million in 2015.
The number of minor appliances used has surpassed energy efficiency innovation. Accordingly, the total appliance energy use in 2015 was 201 PJ as compared to 177 PJ in 1990.
Space cooling - climate change and increased cooling needs
The increase in energy used for space cooling would have been more profound without energy-efficient room and central air conditioners.
Along with the increase in number and size of households, more Canadians also have air conditioners at home. However, the following actions by Canadians helped offset some of the energy consumption:
- Using ENERGY STAR certified room or central air conditioners
- Using programmable thermostats
Space cooling system stock and energy use, 1990-2015
|System stock||Energy use|
Between 1990 and 2015, the energy required to cool Canadian homes increased from 10 PJ to 32 PJ. However, more efficient appliances helped offset this increase. Compared to 1990, the stock of room and central air conditioners in 2015 were 65% and 38% more efficient.
Lighting - efficient light bulbs offset increased use
The increased use of energy-saving light bulbs, such as LEDs, led to a decrease in lighting energy use per household.
Despite a strong surge in total households between 1990 and 2015, lighting energy use per household dipped by 18.0% from 5.0 GJ to 4.1 GJ per household, due to the following practices:
- Using LED light bulbs
- Using outdoor lights with motion detectors
- Using timers for holiday lights
- Turning off unnecessary lights
- Task lighting instead of ceiling lights
- Choosing light bulbs with a wattage matching the purpose of the room/area
- Using multiple switches and light dimmers
Total Canadian light bulbs by type and number of bulbs per household, 2015
|Number of light bulbs||Bulbs per household|