Energy efficiency improvements for households that need it the most can help reduce household energy costs, modernize existing housing and improve housing affordability for vulnerable Canadians. However, these households are more vulnerable to “energy poverty,” caused by 3 main issues: low incomes, high energy prices and energy inefficient homes. This research will examine the scale, scope and nature of energy poverty in Canada and how it impacts housing affordability. The result will be detailed, accessible and easy ways to reduce energy poverty and improve housing affordability for vulnerable households in Canada.
3 Key Goals
Identify Census data indicators on vulnerabilities that prevent Canadians from using energy upgrades.
Develop insight on energy efficiency upgrades and provide advice on building energy poverty considerations into housing initiatives.
Determine detailed, accessible and easy ways to reduce energy poverty to improve housing affordability for vulnerable households in Canada.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Improving housing affordability through energy efficiency
The scale and nature of “energy poverty” in Canada and how it interacts with existing vulnerabilities to compound housing affordability is not well understood or addressed. An “Efficiency for All” report by Efficiency Canada shows that vulnerable households can benefit the most from energy efficiency upgrades. However, these households are less likely to engage with these upgrades without well-designed programs and policy support.
This research will address the lack of information on energy poverty, vulnerabilities and housing affordability and needs in Canada. It aims to Increase the ability of vulnerable households to improve energy efficiency by exploring these questions:
- What is the scale, scope and nature of energy poverty in Canada and how does it combine with other vulnerabilities to worsen housing affordability?
- What data is needed to help identify vulnerable Canadians that need access to energy efficient solutions?
- How can municipal, provincial and national initiatives reduce energy poverty to improve housing affordability?
- How can policies target energy efficiency upgrades to households that need it the most?
Four stages to this project will:
- Build evidence for households most in need through a literature review identifying characteristics of Canadian households most vulnerable to energy poverty.
- Create profiles of households and communities most in of energy efficiency upgrades.
- Link identified problems to practical solutions that target those most in need. Case studies will describe policies and programs relevant to specific aspects of energy poverty.
- Share knowledge with key housing stakeholders, including researchers, affordable housing providers and administrators of energy efficiency programs. Action will include workshops and presentations, both in-person and recorded.
Pointing the way to energy efficiency
The research will develop a better understanding of the Canadians most in need of and least able to access energy efficiency services. It will include insights on households across demographic, geographic, household size, housing type, housing tenure and energy poverty experiences. The result will be a better understanding of how energy poverty combined with existing vulnerabilities worsen housing affordability. This will lead to more targeted and effective energy efficiency programs at all levels of government.
Activity Stream: Program of Research
Title of the Research: Targeting energy efficiency to improve housing affordability
Lead Applicant: Create Climate Equity (CCE)
Project Collaborators / Partners:
- Efficiency Canada
- McConnell Foundation
Search CMHC’s Housing Knowledge Centre for more information and updates about this research project.