Energy poverty refers to the experience of households or communities that struggle with meeting their home energy needs. Approximately 20 percent of Canadian households in both rural and urban communities face energy poverty, and addressing this challenge requires a clear understanding of the people who experience it and the factors that contribute to it.

The Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer tool, developed by Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners (CUSP), offers municipalities access to relevant data so they can better understand energy poverty, and other equity and affordability challenges in their communities. The resource is designed to help municipal staff develop equitable and inclusive clean energy programs to meet residents’ needs.

About the Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer

CUSP developed the Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer to support participants in the Local Energy Access Programs (LEAP) project. The LEAP project, launched under FCM’s Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program’s Transition 2050 initiative, supports CUSP members in using the tool. The project involves 16 municipalities working together to design and deliver clean energy programs. This will accelerate their ability to adopt technologies such as heat pumps, solar energy and electric vehicles. Communities can use these tools to design affordable policies and programs aimed at low-income households.

A large number of Canadian households are struggling with affordability, and home energy costs can be very significant depending on where you live, the type and condition of the home you live in, and how many people live in and earn income in your home. Energy poverty affects nearly 3 million households in Canada, combined with income poverty, 4 million households are struggling economically in one way or another.

– Allison Ashcroft

Gain insights into energy poverty in your community

The Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer is a pan-Canadian, neighbourhood-scale equity and energy poverty mapping tool. It draws from custom Statistics Canada datasets down to the most disaggregated scale available (neighbourhood level) in major centres. It also includes data on geography, income characteristics, housing tenure, and housing types. Use the tool to help your municipality develop energy programs that achieve deep emissions reductions. The tool can also help you better design programs to meet the needs of low-income people who struggle to pay their energy costs.  

Develop affordable clean energy programs

The Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer is available to all Canadian municipalities to help:

  • Gain insights into community disparities related to energy costs and burdens
  • Learn about your neighbourhoods by layering several data points related to households and housing (household income and demographics, building characteristics and condition)
  • Reveal inequities at a granular level (neighbourhood)
  • Realize trends influencing energy poverty in Canada
  • Design targeted clean energy programs
  • Apply community data to climate action planning, policies and programing and other equity and affordability initiatives

Use the tool

Who is this tool for?

This tool will be of particular interest to municipal community energy managers, climate coordinators, environment and sustainability leads along with people working in poverty reduction and social justice.

If you create a new materials using the new tool please advise CUSP so that your work can be profiled on and serve as inspiration to other municipal and non-municipal practitioners.


Allison Ashcroft
Managing Director, Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners

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