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The ways we heat our homes

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Where we live in Canada—and the mix of energy sources, distribution networks and local prices in that province—determines to a large extent how we heat our homes.

Hydroelectricity, for example, is abundant in Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, so it is an important source of energy for heating households in these provinces.

In Quebec, where electricity rates are among the lowest in Canada, more than two out of three households use electricity to heat their homes. More than one-third of dwellings in Quebec are apartments and about 80% of these buildings are electrically heated. This usage rate is much higher than the national average of 56%.

Half of all households in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador rely on electricity as their leading source. In Nova Scotia, electricity heats only one-quarter of homes. Instead, 50% of families in Nova Scotia turn to oil for home heating. In Prince Edward Island, oil heats 81% of households.

Wood is a popular heating alternative in Atlantic Canada: about one in seven households use wood and other solid fuels like coal. In Newfoundland and Labrador, it is as high as nearly one in five households.

Virtually no homes are heated with natural gas in Atlantic Canada, where natural gas has only been on the market since 2004. In all provinces west of Quebec, natural gas has emerged as the dominant home heating fuel, and has been the only fuel whose use has grown in the last decade.

Fully 97% of Alberta’s households heat with natural gas. Natural gas pipelines are plentiful in Manitoba and British Columbia, so about 60% of households there heat with natural gas. Ontarians also use natural gas as their principal energy source for heating.