Canada could save $220 billion by investing in energy efficiency

We’ve recently highlighted how energy efficiency investments are paying big dividends across the United States. In states as disparate as Michigan and Georgia, a dollar spent on efficiency programs is delivering four dollars in benefits. So, what can energy efficiency do for our neighbor to the north, Canada? A new study by the Acadia Center answers that question with a treasure-trove of remarkable findings.
For every dollar it invests in energy efficiency, Canada could get five in return.

The report — Energy Efficiency: Engine of Economic Growth in Canada — assesses three energy efficiency investment scenarios and their potential macroeconomic impacts for Canada. In every instance, the Acadia Center found that investments in efficiency programs could boost GDP, create jobs, generate tax revenue, and dramatically reduce Canada’s carbon emissions. The authors note that with every $1 invested in energy efficiency, Canada could get $3 to $5 in return — which, in an aggressive investment scenario, could translate to $220 billion in total benefits over a 15 year span (2012-2026). The table below shows the potential cost savings of each investment scenario, compared to program costs:

Under each efficiency investment scenario, Canada could save $94 billion, $144 billion, and $220 billion (Source: Acadia Center).

Acadia's key point is that energy efficiency programs punch above their weight. Every dollar — or loonie — spent on efficiency can unlock a wide variety of benefits, from lower operating costs for utilities to lower energy bills for consumers.

Of course, energy efficiency doesn’t just save money and energy. It can also create jobs and reduce carbon pollution. Under the highest investment scenario presented in the report, Canada could add a maximum of 300,000 jobs annually and cut CO2 emissions by 92 megatons each year.

In our own research, we’ve noted that Behavioral Energy Efficiency in particular has enormous energy savings potential for every province in Canada, from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia.


If Canadian utilities empowered 8.3 million households — 65 percent of the nation’s population — with personalized energy insights that motivate behavior change, Canada could save 1,792 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually. That’s like taking all the homes in Calgary off the grid for half the year.

At scale, behavioral efficiency would save Canadian consumers CAD$135 million. It would also cut CO2 emissions by 275,000 metric tons every year — an environmental impact  equivalent to planting over 12 million trees.

No matter how much Canada invests in energy efficiency, the country’s utilities and energy consumers stand to gain huge benefits.

Download the full report from the Acadia Center to learn more.

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