Direct Energy

Direct Energy

May 24, 2011 08:01 ET

Canadians Can't Get Enough of Frosty Temps-Even in Summer

Joint Direct Energy and the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto Study Uncovers Major Savings on Summer Cooling Bills

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 24, 2011) - The majority (64 per cent) of Canadian homeowners who use air conditioning set their thermostats at a frigid 22 degrees Celsius or lower, according to a recent survey conducted for Direct Energy. With spring cleaning underway in many Canadian homes, Direct Energy encourages Canadians to throw out such energy wasting habits along with the other odds and ends. Inefficient cooling equipment, arctic air conditioning settings and a "leaky" home can cause annual cooling bills to add up.

"Spring's the time to get the air conditioner maintenance completed in time for summer," says Dave Walton, Director of Home Ideas at Direct Energy. "It's also important to think about how old your central air conditioning unit is from an energy efficiency perspective. The average Canadian home likely has an older, less energy-efficient air conditioning unit operating around 10 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). By upgrading from a 10 SEER to 14 SEER unit, a homeowner could save 29 per cent on their annual cooling bill."

Survey results also showed that Canadians are chilling themselves out by setting their thermostats too low during the summer months. By using a programmable thermostat and bumping the temperature from 22 to 24 degrees, homeowners can really have an impact on their electricity bill. In an interesting twist, while maintaining their thermostats at frosty levels, 48 per cent of those homeowners surveyed admitted they do not know how much energy they consume.

"It's clear Canadians can do far more to make their homes and energy usage patterns more efficient," notes Dr. Kim Pressnail, an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at The University of Toronto. "In partnership with Direct Energy, we have identified three major areas where homeowners have an opportunity to keep their energy bills down during the summer and throughout the year."

Dr. Pressnail and his team recently completed a white paper1 which examined the average Canadian home and potential energy- and cost-savings generated by undertaking relatively inexpensive residential retrofits and a simple change to the thermostat setting. The research found that homeowners could potentially save as much as $6932 on their annual energy bills by making the following three changes:

  1. Save up to $253: Increasing the thermostat from 22 degrees to 24 degrees during the summer months can save up to $253 on the annual energy bill.3

  2. Save up to $195: Topping up the insulation in an attic can save up to $75 on the annual energy bill. Boosting insulation levels in the basement can result in additional savings of as much as $120 on the annual energy bill.4

  3. Save as much as $245: Sealing air leaks around the baseboards and attic hatch, caulking drafty windows and air sealing along the basement headers can result in a savings of up to $245 on the annual energy bill.

With a warmer than average summer predicted by Environment Canada, savvy home owners looking to avoid hefty energy bills can take the above energy efficiency upgrades and tips to heart to ensure the heat's not on their bank account. The savings can always be reinvested in additional energy efficiency upgrades, or saved for a rainy day.

Additional findings from the Direct Energy survey reveal that many Canadian homeowners (47 per cent) don't know what they're paying for electricity per month. The survey also showed that:

  • Seventy-seven per cent of Canadian homeowners are unaware that their central cooling and heating system is the biggest energy waster in their home.
  • Twenty per cent of Canadian homeowners said that they set their thermostat at a chilly 19 degrees or lower, while another 30 per cent set their thermostat between 20-22 degrees.
  • Fifteen per cent of Canadian homeowners don't know how much electricity they consume per month, but do not care how much they consume.
  • When it comes to Spring cleaning, only 12 per cent of Canadians homeowners plans to get rid of old appliances that could be upgraded to more efficient ones.

About the Survey

From May 4th to May 6th 2011, an online survey was conducted among a randomly selected, representative sample of 2,010 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panel members. Individuals were sampled according to Census data to be representative of the Canadian national adult population. The full dataset has been statistically weighted according to the most current gender, age, region, education (and in Quebec, language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. The margin of error is ±2.2%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About Direct Energy

Direct Energy is North America's largest provider of heating & cooling, plumbing and electrical services and a leading energy and energy-related services provider with over eight million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE:CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 46 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and 10 provinces in Canada. To learn more about Direct Energy, please visit

1 Parker, C., Touchie, M., and Pressnail, K."Affordable Ways for Homewowners to Reduce Energy Consumption", White Paper Report, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto, 2011

2 Based on a pre-retrofit annual energy cost of $3,232 for an average Canadian home. Statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association, Stats Canada and Natural Resources Canada suggest that the average home is: 1860 square feet, 40 years old and two stories

3 Based on an annual cooling bill of $486 at 22 degrees

4 Based on increasing estimated pre-retrofit insulation levels to the standard specified in the 2006 Ontario Building Code

Contact Information

  • For further information on home energy efficiency tips or to
    book an interview with Dave Walton please contact:
    Direct Energy Ontario
    Crystal Jongeward