This article is a qualitative study exploring coping strategies of energy-poor households in urban settings in four European countries with different levels of energy poverty : France, Spain, Austria, and North Macedonia.
We have drawn inspiration from previous studies conducted in the health area that pay attention to the behavioral, psychological, and emotional response, which provided a partial understanding of coping strategies as largely individual, with a negative impact on households.
Based on the evidence of interviews with energy vulnerable households and observation of their practical actions in four cities, we categorize coping strategies to reflect a more comprehensive snapshot of the everyday experience of energy vulnerability.
The results demonstrate that the coping strategies of energy vulnerable households are manifold and complex. We expand the concept of coping strategies to include a collective response which is more likely to enable household empowerment that fills up their resilience reserves and facilitates rebound from energy vulnerability. Contrarily, other strategies lead to lock-ins, which may further deplete energy vulnerable households’ resilience reserve, thus making their lived experience more taxing for them. Lastly, we emphasize that personal and structural lock-ins determine energy vulnerable households’ choice of coping strategies.