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Experiencing fuel poverty. Coping strategies of low-income households in Vienna/Austria


Until the present day, research on fuel poverty focussing on the point of view of those concerned is few and far between. The present paper aims at filling this gap, analysing experiences with and behavioural responses to fuel poverty. It examines the day-to-day energy situation of households, which are poor/at-risk-of-poverty and/or suffering from fuel poverty in a case study conducted in the Austrian capital Vienna. Qualitative interviews provide the data for investigating the relevant factors in causing fuel poverty (among those, bad housing conditions, outdated appliances, financial problems), and provide a basis for discussion about the respective behavioural strategies of the people concerned. The results show that the ways of handling this problematic situation vary greatly and that people follow different strategies when it comes to inventing solutions for coping with the restrictions and finding ways of satisfying at least a part of their basic energy needs. Nonetheless, it also clearly surfaces that the scope of action is limited in many cases, which in turn only supports the claim that changes in the overall conditions are essential.