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Revealing the Hidden Link: Energy Poverty and Self-Restricted Energy Use in Austria


Publication date
1 January 2023
Directorate-General for Energy


Using a concurrent triangulation design, this dissertation investigates energy poverty in Austria, with a focus on social housing in Vienna. A novel indicator of hidden energy poverty is proposed using latent class analysis on survey data, revealing that numerous households employ self-restrictive behaviours to lower energy consumption. The results show that a significant proportion of households ration their energy consumption in order to save money. Rationing of energy consumption is related to energy inefficient buildings and multiple further factors, including ingrained habits, environmental attitudes, external and internal perceived behavioural control, social norms, and positive environmental intentions. Furthermore, the EU-SILC data (2019) analysis shows that households at high risk of energy poverty can be found throughout Austria, in the periphery, in large owner-occupied houses, and in multi-storey buildings in the city. The predominant household composition indicates that energy poverty is deeply gendered and interconnected with other socio-democratic variables such as age, low-income households with children, and the elderly are also at high risk. The primary and secondary survey analyses indicate heterogeneity of energy poverty risks, meaning that single indicators cannot provide a full picture of energy poverty. The multilevel policy analysis reveals that despite national strategies, institutional barriers at the federal, state, and local levels persist, calling for a more ambitious policy approach from Austria and the EU. This is why the EU is advised to develop a clear-targeted political strategy to give energy poverty more visibility, and establish a sustainable stakeholder dialogue to ensure that energy needs of the estimated 50 to 125 million Europeans living in energy poverty are met. Increasing the rate of large-scale renovation activities in the EU and Austria is necessary to address energy poor households and achieve the stated climate targets. Considering the current soaring inflation and high energy prices, timely and structured action is required to ensure that energy-poor households are not left behind in the process of achieving climate neutrality. The key question is, can the Green Deal practice what it preaches and lead the EU to be the first continent in the world that is climate neutral in a fair and socially just manner by 2050?

Author: Kristina Eisfeld


1 JANUARY 2023
Revealing the Hidden Link: Energy Poverty and Self-Restricted Energy Use in Austria
(7.7 MB - PDF)