[Sust-mar] Our winters of discontent: Addressing the problem of rising home heating costs

Larry Hughes lhughes2 at dal.ca
Mon Mar 20 15:58:33 EST 2006

As the world price of oil increases, the cost of heating a home in many
parts of Canada is rising as well. In an attempt at assisting those on
low-income meet their home heating needs, some provincial governments have
fuel assistance programs to help defray these costs. Nova Scotia's "Keep
the Heat" fuel assistance program pays low-income Nova Scotians $250
towards their annual heating bills; such programs may appear generous, but
they are may over- or underpay recepients. Another approach, reducing the
tax on heating fuel, has a number of shortcomings, including increasing
demand (potentially causing fuel shortages and rises in greenhouse gas
emissions) and lost tax revenue.

An alternative considered in this paper is to offer those in need a
guaranteed price per litre for heating fuel. There are a variety of ways
of determining the guaranteed price; one approach suggested is to base the
price on an average seasonal price from one or more past heating seasons.

Regardless of the approach taken, the number of Canadians in need of
assistance will rise as the price of energy continues to rise, putting
strains on government finances. The final part of the paper discusses a
residential energy security strategy, that decreases Canada's dependence
on fossil fuels through the use of solar energy, the reduction of
residential energy demand through home energy upgrades, and the promotion
of district heating.

Published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Nova Scotia, 20
March 2006.

Copies available from http://lh.ece.dal.ca/enen/2006/HomeHeating.pdf

Larry Hughes, PhD
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 2X4

v: 902.494.3950
f: 902.422.7535
e: larry.hughes at dal.ca
u: http://lh.ece.dal.ca

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