In our recent report, A Clean Bill, we showed how a transition to clean energy does not have to come at the cost of affordability. In fact, we found that a household in the Greater Toronto Area can save hundreds of dollars per month by adopting clean energy solutions like electric vehicles and heat pumps.
But what about Canadians who live in other parts of the country? Can they count on the same savings?
We ran the numbers again, this time for the Halifax area. As it turns out, higher energy prices in the Atlantic provinces mean that the savings are even greater than in Ontario. By going all in on clean energy, a family in a Halifax suburb could save a huge $11,000 per year—money that can be spent on groceries, vacations, or literally anything else.
Our hypothetical Halifax suburb, like its Toronto counterpart, features three households with different levels of clean energy adoption.
The first household heats their home and water with natural gas, cools it with a central air conditioning system, and cooks on a gas stove. In their driveway is a Ford F-150 truck and a gas-powered Hyundai Kona. Their monthly energy bill, including the cost of equipment, comes to a whopping $2,375 per month.
A quarter of their bill is made up just by the cost of fuelling and maintaining their truck. So it is perhaps no surprise that their neighbours, who opted for a large EV instead of a truck, save hundreds of dollars per month.
These neighbors also decide that, instead of installing a central air conditioning system, they will install an electric heat pump. Despite its name, a heat pump can cool as well as heat, offering an alternative to running two different systems. This family decides to keep a natural gas furnace as a back-up for the coldest days.
By making only these two changes, the family saves over $550 per month, even when the costs of their new car and appliances are accounted for.
But even larger savings can be made by shutting off the gas completely. The third family in this comparison cook, heat, cool, and drive electric, choosing two electric vehicles and a heat pump with an electric back up. They save a huge $940 per month compared to their fossil-fuel-powered neighbors.
We did a similar comparison for condo owners in Halifax and found that they could save almost $650 per month by switching to clean energy. The biggest potential saving comes from taking public transport instead of owning a car, but even by owning a small EV instead of a gas hatchback, a Halifax condo couple can still save $200 per month.
What’s more, the economic case for clean energy gets even stronger for homes that use heating oil—as is the case in one in five households in the Atlantic provinces. While our own analysis did not include this scenario, other studies have shown that switching from oil heating to a cold climate heat pump can cut energy bills significantly. And for low-income households, the federal and provincial governments are co-delivering a program to provide heat pumps for free.
While exact savings will vary, one thing is certain: Nova Scotians have a lot to gain from going electric.