A Clean Bill

Making the switch to clean energy cuts carbon and cost from household energy bills

Key Takeaways

  • A family that adopts a few common clean energy solutions—including EVs and heat pumps—could knock $800 off their monthly energy bills, compared to one that is largely reliant on fossil fuels. Tweet this
  • A condo owner could save $450 a month by ditching fossil fuels from their daily lives. Tweet this
  • EVs are the biggest household money saver. Choosing a Chevrolet Bolt EV instead of a Toyota Corolla Hatchback would save a typical Canadian $33,600 over a 10-year ownership period. Tweet this
  • Most EVs with higher sticker price than gas equivalents repaid their extra purchase costs in less than a year through savings in fuel and maintenance. Tweet this

Executive Summary

Inflation. Extreme weather. The cost of living and climate change are top of mind for Canadians as they grapple with rising prices amid a summer defined by wildfire smoke and heat waves.

Fortunately, there is a common solution: clean energy. From electric vehicles to heat pumps, clean technologies have the power to fight climate change all while protecting your pocketbook.

In fact, a family living in a detached house in a Toronto suburb that adopts a few common clean energy solutions could knock $800 off their monthly energy bills, compared to one that remains largely reliant on fossil fuels, according to our calculations. That’s even taking into account the costs of buying and installing the technology. Over a year, that adds up to almost $10,000 that can be saved, invested, or spent on literally anything else. A condo owner who was able to make similar changes could pocket $5,500 a year. And these savings don’t include the value added to their properties in a market that is increasingly demanding fossil-fuel-free living or the health benefits of breathing cleaner air.

By far, the single biggest money saver is an electric vehicle. Choosing a Chevrolet Bolt instead of a Toyota Corolla Hatchback would save $33,600 over a 10-year ownership period (that’s including the upfront purchase cost and current rebates). Electric cars not only enable their owners to completely skip the gas pump, they are also a lot cheaper to maintain—you’ll never need to do an oil change again. In fact, with current rebates, several EVs are already cheaper to buy than an equivalent gas car, meaning that owners start pocketing savings the moment they drive them off the lot.

Even in cases where the electric option costs more to buy, the EV will still work out cheaper overall. Most of the EVs we compared broke even with their gas equivalents in under a year. 

When it comes to heating and cooling, the fossil-fuel-free options also pack the best cost savings. Specifically, air source heat pumps—which can cool as well as heat—are the cheapest option for many Canadian households, even when the costs of installation are included. Indeed, installing a heat pump instead of a new natural gas furnace and central air conditioning can cut around $55 (including upfront costs) off the monthly bill of a detached family home in Ontario, according to data in a new study.

Meanwhile, a household that invested in energy efficiency upgrades, like new double-pane windows, could knock hundreds of dollars off their annual bills.

Put simply, the energy transition isn’t going to cost Canadians—quite the opposite. In fact, a recent study showed that Canadians will spend 12% less on energy overall in 2050 than they do today when they switch to clean electricity to power their homes, vehicles, and businesses.

What’s more, switching to clean energy insulates households from the price shocks that come with fossil fuels. The price of clean electricity is generally controlled by local market forces, while oil and gas prices have increased via a series of large price spikes driven largely by global geopolitics.

It’s clear that a continued reliance on fossil fuels is costing Canadians. And there are things that governments can do to make it easier for residents to make the shift.

For starters, they can continue to help reduce the often higher upfront costs of the technologies— something that many are already doing. The federal government offers $5,000 off the sticker price of the most popular electric vehicles. And seven provinces and territories, representing 43% of Canada’s population, have additional rebates that can be stacked. The federal government also offers grants and zero-interest loans for home upgrades, including energy efficiency improvements or rooftop solar installation through its Canada Greener Homes Initiative. And many provinces, municipalities, and utilities, have their own grants or loan programs, including for heat pumps.

The next steps are to improve the accessibility of clean energy policies and programs so that all Canadians can benefit, regardless of their income or housing situation. That could include purchase incentives for used EVs and funding heating or EV-ready retrofits in multi-family buildings.

And finally, governments should develop and expand on existing policies that ready Canada’s energy infrastructure, from the power grid to new and existing buildings.