Households and the Environment Survey (HES)

Detailed information for 2021




Every 2 years

Record number:


The first phase of the Households and the Environment Survey (HES) measures the environmental practices and behaviours of Canadian households that relate to the condition of our air, water and soils.

The Households and the Environment Survey: Energy Use (HEUS) is a follow up on the Households and the Environment survey. The goal of the survey is to obtain permission from householders to collect information on their energy consumption from their energy provider(s).

The Households and the Environment Survey: Energy Use phase 3 (HEUS phase 3) is a follow up on the Households and the Environment survey (HES phase 1) and on the Households and the Environment Survey: Energy Use phase 2 (HEUS phase 2). During HEUS phase 3, the energy providers are contacted in order to obtain the energy consumption data for the respondents who filled the consent form in HEUS phase 2. Together, the 3 phases of this survey were designed to collect data to develop and improve three key environmental indicators: air quality, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

Data release - July 18, 2022 (Phase 1, first in a series of releases for this reference period); December 8, 2023 (Phase 2 and 3); March 19, 2024 (Energy use)


Phase 1
The objective of the survey is to provide context to scientific measures of air and water quality, and greenhouse gas emissions, by gaining a better understanding of household behaviour and practices with respect to the environment.

Since the HES was first conducted in 1991, environmental priorities and concerns have changed for Canadians. The quality of drinking water, the impact of residential pesticide use and the impact of hazardous waste on human health are only some of the newer issues that have moved to the forefront of Canadians' collective consciousness. Changes in environmental practices and behaviours are reflective of these growing concerns. In order to gauge these changes, the HES measures key environmental variables and practices. The survey ran in 1991, 1994, 2006, and every two years between 2007 and 2019. Below is a list of topics that are covered in the first phase of the 2021 HES.

- Home heating and cooling
- Use of firewood
- Water quality concerns of households
- Consumption and conservation of water
- Consumption and conservation of energy
- Pesticide and fertilizer use on lawns and gardens
- Use of household lawn and garden equipment
- Use of gasoline-powered recreation equipment
- Composting and household hazardous waste disposal practices
- Household interactions with nature
- Purchasing decisions

Phase 2
The objective of the HEUS phase 2 is to provide a precise account of how much energy (electricity, natural gas and heating oil) is consumed by households in Canada and to identify what this energy is used for specifically (heating, cooling, appliances, electronics, etc.).
The 2021 HEUS is a shorter version compared to past cycles. It is collecting information regarding the following subjects:
- General characteristics of the dwelling
- Energy provider information
- Energy consumption information
- Consent to contact the dwelling's energy provider.

Phase 3
The HEUS phase 3 only follows up with companies mentioned by respondents in the consent section of HEUS phase 2. It requests from the energy providers the monthly energy consumption used by households during the reference year. Data collected with the energy providers are then integrated with those from phase 1 and 2 in order to deepen possible analysis.

Statistical activity

The Canadian System of Environmental-Economic Accounts provides a conceptually integrated framework of statistics (in physical and monetary terms) and analysis for studying the relationship between the environment and human and economic activity. It presents detailed statistics describing 1) the size of Canada's natural resource stocks and their contribution to national wealth; 2) the extraction of these same resources and their disposition among businesses, households, governments and the rest of the world; 3) the generation of various wastes (liquid, solid and gaseous) by industries, households and governments and the management of these wastes; and 4) the expenditures made by businesses, households and governments for the purposes of protecting the environment. The accounts are, to the greatest extent possible, compatible with the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (CSMA). They were developed in response to the need to better monitor the relationship between economic activity and the environment.

Reference period: The calendar year corresponding to the reference year.


  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Families, households and housing

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population consists of households in Canada, excluding households located in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, households located on reserves and in other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces; and households consisting entirely of full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Institutions and households in certain remote regions are also excluded.

Instrument design

The questionnaires were designed by Statistics Canada in consultation with stakeholders involved in the Canadian Environment Sustainability Indicators project and in consideration of the data needs of both the project and the larger research and policy communities.

The questionnaire was designed to follow standard practices and wording, when applicable, in both self-administered electronic questionnaires and a computer-assisted interviewing environment. This included the automatic control of question wording and flows that depended upon answers to earlier questions and the use of online edits to check for logical inconsistencies and gross capture errors.

The survey instrument used for data collection was subjected to extensive testing before its use in the survey.

HEUS phase 3 doesn't use any questionnaires. A computer application was developed in order to contact companies and permit the safe and private transfer of requested data to Statistics Canada. These tools were subjected to extensive testing before its use in the survey.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The sampling unit for the HES and HEUS is the dwelling. The HES (phase 1) sample is drawn from the Dwelling Universe File (DUF). The sample design is a stratified simple random sample where the stratification is by province and, within province, where applicable, CMA. In 2021, the total sample size for HES phase 1 was 38,000 households.

The sample for HEUS (phase 2) includes all respondents to HES phase 1 who completed their questionnaires. In 2021, the total sample size for HEUS phase 2 is approximatively 18,000 households.

The HEUS phase 3 sample is the set of accounts (for electricity, natural gas and heating oil energy providers) provided by HEUS (phase 2) respondents. In 2019, the total sample size for HEUS phase 3 was about 7000 energy accounts.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: Phase 1: 2021-10-22 to 2022-01-23
Phase 2: 2022-03-23 to 2022-05-29
Phase 3: 2022-08-08 to 2022-10-25

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files gathered from energy providers.

During phase 1, the content of the survey focuses on the behaviours and practices of the household relating to the environment. Data are collected directly from a representative of the selected household. The HES is conducted using a combination of self-administered electronic questionnaires and telephone interviews by Statistics Canada's regional offices using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) application.

In phase 2 (HEUS), respondents are sent a paper questionnaire to gather energy consumption related information and obtain permission from the respondent for Statistics Canada to collect pertinent energy consumption information from their energy provider(s).

During phase 3, energy consumption for respondents is obtained directly from the respondents' energy provider(s).

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

The first stage of survey processing undertaken at head office was the replacement of any "out of-range" values on the data file with blanks. This process was designed to make further editing easier.

The first type of error treated was errors in questionnaire flow, where questions that did not apply to the respondent (and should therefore not have been answered) were found to contain answers. In this case a computer edit automatically eliminated superfluous data by following the flow of the questionnaire implied by answers to previous, and in some cases, subsequent questions.

The second type of error treated involved a lack of information in questions that should have been answered. For this type of error, a non-response or "not-stated" code was assigned to the item.

This was followed by a series of edits to ensure consistency in the responses for a household.


In most cases, item non-response to the survey occurred when the respondent did not understand or misinterpreted a question, refused to answer a question, or could not recall the requested information. Values were not imputed when these were missing. They were coded to "not-stated".

In HES phase 1, we imputed total household income using a geographic nearest neighbour imputation with matching variables such as household size, education level and employment status. For HEUS (phase 2), non-response to the households' energy consumption was imputed using a similar approach.

Partial non-response occurs when the interview is started but not completed for various reasons. In the case of the HES, less than 1% of interviews were started but not completed and the missed questions were treated as multiple item non-response and coded to "not-stated".


Initial HES weights were created from the inclusion probabilities, the inverse of the probability of selection within each HES stratum. The weights were then calibrated, using the software Calmar, to household-level control totals by province and household size, and to person-level control totals by province and age. This calibration process ensured that the estimates produced with the HES and HEUS data were comparable to the counts from the external sources with respect to summary results.

Bootstrap weights, using 1000 replicates, were produced to facilitate the calculation of variance for specific estimates. The replicates were subject to the same methodology as described above.

Quality evaluation

All published data were compared to identical or similar HES (phase 1, 2, and 3) data from previous surveys to ensure consistency. Explanations were found for any significant changes. Subject-matter experts confronted the data using other sources as well as by identifying and researching any values that were not consistent with others in the same domain.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Date modified: