Shockingly cold and electricity-dependent in a rich context: Energy poor households in Norway

Energy Research & Social Science, Vol 91, 2022, 13 p. DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2022.102745

Norway remains an understudied context for energy poverty. Resting on semi-structured interviews with 17 households located in two general areas around the wider Oslo region, the article draws on Bourdieu's concepts of social fields and capitals, as well as more recent social practice theory. We use this to explore what makes Norwegian households vulnerable to energy poverty, their coping strategies, and implications for health and wellbeing. With its particular reliance on electricity as household energy carrier, general high income-levels, and being at the forefront of the energy transition, the case of Norway generates insights useful for understanding energy poverty implications of decarbonisation. We show that households that are heavily dependent on electricity, have unstable incomes, and live in energy-inefficient rental housing are especially vulnerable. The most marginalised households are typically headed by unemployed persons of working age; dependent on parental assistance to live ‘normal’ lives, and they often struggle with stigmatisation and shame. Lack of access to economic and social capital influences their energy practices and vulnerability in several social fields, also beyond direct living conditions. With increasing electrification of sectors like heating, transport and industry, findings from Norway are relevant to energy-poverty scholarship on electricity dependency and decarbonisation.