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Local action against fuel poverty in Austria

Panel: 3. Local action

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Karl-Michael Brunner, Institute for Sociology and Social Research, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria
Sylvia Mandl, Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development, Austria
Anja Christanell, Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development, Austria
Michaela Leitner, Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development, Austria
Katharina Kirsch-Soriano da Silva, Caritas Vienna, Austria


A growing awareness for the problem of fuel poverty can be observed in industrialized countries. Fuel poverty arises from the interaction of low incomes, high energy prices and energy inefficient homes or appliances. It is characterized by high expenditures for energy, energy debts, disconnections, restrictions on fuel consumption at the cost of health or by choice coercion whether disposable incomes are spent in food or for heating. Studies show that fuel poor households are characterized by a number of burdens and that the scope of action is limited in many cases. So the question arises which measures could be taken to counteract fuel poverty and how energy burdens of these households could be overcome by increasing the energy efficiency of the homes, amongst other measures.

In Austria, the number of research projects and the implementation of measures to tackle fuel poverty are increasing at local and national level. One of these studies ('Pilot Project against Fuel Poverty') was conducted by the authors between 2011 and 2014. The aim of this research project was to implement energy efficiency measures in 400 low-income households and to evaluate their outcomes. Three different Projects served as examples of implementation. Measures were evaluated regarding their effectiveness and possibilities to improve advice services were identified. Based on the results of the study measures to tackle fuel poverty in Austria were developed and refined in dialogues with stakeholders (e.g. energy suppliers, social institutions, public administration).

The paper presents selected results from this project, focusing on the local level.


Download this paper as pdf: 3-112-15_Brunner.pdf

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