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Winter heating bills climb for 72% of Canadians: Yahoo/Maru poll

Some provinces felt the bite of higher energy costs more than others

Ontario residents were most likely to report higher heating bills, according to a new Yahoo/Maru Public Opinion survey. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Ontario residents were most likely to report higher heating bills, according to a new Yahoo/Maru Public Opinion survey. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Nearly three-quarters of Canadians who pay home heating costs directly felt the pinch of bigger bills this winter, according to a new Yahoo/Maru Public Opinion survey.

The results make good on predictions last fall that inflation, the war in Ukraine, and volatile commodity prices would raise the cost to keep hot water flowing and homes toasty in Canada during the coldest months of 2023.

Among 1,212 bill payers surveyed between Feb. 23 and 24, 72 per cent reported higher energy consumption costs between mid-November 2022 and mid-February 2023. Among that group, 24 per cent say their bill "increased very much."

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"The increase in home heating costs was yet another log on the fire of inflation for a majority of Canadians," said Maru executive vice-president John Wright. "Between higher costs at the gas pumps outside their homes, and price hikes to heat their homes, there really has been no escape from the volatility of energy costs."

According to Statistics Canada, most Canadians use traditionally gas-powered systems to heat their homes, mainly forced-air furnaces. The majority, 84 per cent, of gas users who participated in the survey reported paying a bigger bill.

However, homes that rely on oil as their primary energy source for heat appear to have seen the steepest increases. Eighty-three per cent in this category reported an increase, with 42 per cent of this group saying their bill was "very much" higher.

"With the Ukraine war as an impetus for higher costs globally, there is little surprise that those with oil and natural gas witnessed the sharpest increases," Wright said.

Among those with hydro electricity-based heating, like electric baseboard heaters, 61 per cent saw an increase to their bill.

Ontario residents were most likely to report higher prices (80 per cent), followed by Manitoba and Saskatchewan (79 per cent), and Alberta (78 per cent). Those surveyed in Quebec were found to be least likely to pay more, with 64 per cent citing a bigger bill during the time studied.

However, sharp cost increases were most common in Alberta (37 per cent), followed by Ontario (31 per cent), and Atlantic Canada (30 per cent). On the other hand, Quebec and British Columbia were least likely to say their bill increased "very much," at 14 per cent and eight per cent, respectively.

How to lower your home heating bill

According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), the nation's cold climate means space heating accounts for 63.6 per cent of the energy used in the average Canadian home. While most homeowners and renters have no control over natural gas prices or electricity rates, there are ways to lower heating costs.

Websites like EnergyRates.ca can help determine the cheapest home heating method available in your area. Some provinces also have open energy markets that allow consumers to shop around for the best price among utilities.

At the same time, simple do-it-yourself fixes, like properly sealing doors and windows, and adding insulation to a home's attic, can make a significant difference. NRCAN lists federal grants and rebates like the Canada Greener Homes Initiative on its website. Provincial and municipal governments may offer financial help to save energy as well.

Maru Public Opinion surveyed 1,212 Canadian adults who pay their home heating bills, between Feb. 23 and 24 with an estimated margin error of +/- 2.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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