Understanding the bi-directional relationship between precarious housing and energy deprivation

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Energy deprivation is a major societal challenge as households struggle with rising energy costs and inadequate thermal efficiency of homes (Lawlor and Visser, 2022). At the same time, many households are exposed to precarious housing conditions through unaffordable costs, tenure insecurity and poor-quality housing (Waldron, 2023). Some 14% of Irish households are in arrears on their utilities or housing payments, while 7% are unable to warm their homes (Eurostat, 2022). Energy deprivation can significantly impact upon economic security, health and social exclusion and remains a key concern for lower-income households (Kearns et al., 2019). High energy bills are leading to cutbacks on other necessities, sometimes prompting decisions about whether to ‘heat or eat’ (Snell et al., 2018).

Despite growing research interest in energy deprivation, significant knowledge gaps remain. Identifying and measuring energy-poor households is difficult, and it is unknown how many households are exposed to combined effects of precarious housing and energy deprivation, or how this ‘double precarity’ is distributed across tenures, demographic and socio-economic groups. It is unclear how precarious housing and energy conditions have evolved in response to sudden political-economic shocks (e.g. Ukraine War). This paper address this issue by developing two novel measures of energy deprivation and precarious housing from the EU-Statistics on Income and Living Conditions. It then measures their extent and trajectory in Ireland (2005 – 2023), their bi-directional relationship and combined impacts across demographic and socio-economic cohorts. The results will deliver pragmatic contributions for policy makers and practitioners at the intersection of housing and energy.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted - 23 Feb 2024
Event35th International Geographical Congress 2024 - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 24 Aug 202430 Aug 2024


Conference35th International Geographical Congress 2024


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