NELA – Sustainable energy consumption and lifestyles in poor and at-risk-of-poverty households

Part of the programme “New Energies 2020“ (Climate and Energy Funds, Austrian Research Promotion Agency [FFG]); project duration: Nov 2008 – Apr 2011

Project management: Dr. Anja Christanell (ÖIN)

Project implementation: Dr. Anja Christanell, Mag. Markus Spitzer (ÖIN), A.o.Univ.Prof.Dr. Karl-Michael Brunner (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Dr. Michael Kopatz (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Enviroment, Energy)

Without understanding the intrinsically social nature of energy consumption, efforts promoting energy efficiency and energy saving will only yield limited results. Against this backdrop, the project NELA investigates lifestyle-specific patterns of energy consumption in households on a low income and at risk of poverty – two groups which particularly feel the pressure of rising energy prices.

The research is guided by questions about i) which socio-cultural and everyday ideas shape energy consumption in poor and at-risk-of-poverty households, ii) which typical household and energy management styles can be identified, and iii) which target-group specific strategies and measures may be developed to combine energy efficiency and energy saving with an improvement in the standard of living. NELA is divided into six work packages: research and evaluation of the current state of scientific knowledge, interviews with experts, interviews in 60 Viennese households, a workshop with experts, pilot projects (application of target-group specific energy saving measures), as well as further dissemination activities.

Energy consumption in its diverse manifestations, underlying behavioural motives, driving forces and causes is being analysed from a perspective of social sciences and cultural studies, taking a qualitative research stance. Apart from the generation of knowledge about the system and forms of behaviour, a main aim of the project is the compilation of knowledge on transformation in collaboration with selected households and experts from administrative, social and energy-related fields. This allows identifying possibilities and limitations of energy efficiency strategies at close range of everyday lives and milieus. Environmental and socio-economic targets are closely intertwined in this project.

Brunner, Karl-Michael; Christanell, Anja; Spitzer, Markus (2012): Energy Consumption Practices and Social Inequality: The Case of Low-Income Households. In: Möllers, Nina (ed.), Past and Present Energy Societies. How Energy Connects Politics, Technologies and Cultures. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 195-223.
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Brunner, Karl-Michael; Spitzer, Markus; Christanell, Anja (2012): Experiencing fuel poverty. Coping strategies of low-income households in Vienna/Austria. Energy Policy 49, 2012, 53-59.
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Brunner, Karl-Michael; Spitzer, Markus; Christanell, Anja (2011): NELA. Nachhaltiger Energieverbrauch und Lebensstile in armen und armutsgefährdeten Haushalten. Final report. Vienna: Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development.
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Brunner, Karl-Michael; Christanell, Anja; Spitzer, Markus (2011): Fuel poverty. A case study of vulnerable households in Vienna/Austria. Proceedings of the ECEEE 2011 Summer Study „Energy efficiency first: The foundation of a low-carbon society”, 06.-11.06.2011, Belambra Presqu’île de Giens, France.
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Brunner, Karl-Michael; Spitzer, Markus; Christanell, Anja (2011): Energiekonsum und Armut. In: Mikl-Horke, Gertraude (ed.), Sozioökonomie: Die Rückkehr der Wirtschaft in die Gesellschaft. Marburg: Metropolis Verlag, 319-348.
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Brunner, Karl-Michael; Christanell, Anja; Spitzer, Markus (2010): Energiekonsum, Armut, Nachhaltigkeit. In: Institut für Elektrizitätswirtschaft und Energieinnovation (ed.), conference article in connection with the 11th symposium on energy innovation “Alte Ziele, neue Wege“, 10.-12.02.2010, Graz, Austria.
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Kopatz, Michael; Spitzer, Markus; Christanell, Anja (2010). Energiearmut. Stand der Forschung, nationale Programme und regionale Modellprojekte in Deutschland, Österreich und Großbritannien. Wuppertal Papers 184, Wuppertal: Wuppertal Institute.
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