Energy poverty

Povertà energetica tra welfare e ambiente.
Esiti di una ricerca in quattro quartieri ATER di Trieste

Please cite the report as follows:
Carrosio, G. & De Vidovich, L. (2023), Povertà energetica tra welfare e ambiente. Esiti di una ricerca in quattro quartieri ATER di Trieste. University of Trieste, Department of Political and Social Sciences, Gruppo di ricerca eco-welfare. Available at:

A qualitative research between welfare and environment

The research

From September 2021 to June 2022, the research group carried out a research in four public housing buildings areas located in the peripheries of Trieste, run and managed by Ater, the local authority for public housing . The research addresses a peculiar topic, which gained a particular relevance over the past years, and especially after the post-COVID increase of energy expenditure: energy poverty.

The research entails the administrationn of a number of questionnaires to some inhabitants of these areas, with the aim of figuring out their energy behaviors and the difficulties to afford the energy expenditures.

What is energy poverty?

In general terms, energy poverty can be defined as the phenomenon that affects those who cannot take advantage of adequate and reliable supplies of electricity and gas due to the unavailability of sufficient economic resources.
Simply put, energy poverty can be intended as the difficulty experienced by households to get a minimum set of energy services, with negative consequences on their well-being (Faiella and Lavecchia, 2015).

Energy poverty occurs when a household is unable to secure a level and quality of domestic energy services—space cooling and heating, cooking, appliances, information technology—sufficient for its social and material needs.

Bouzarovski (2018)

Research Aims and Questions

The main research aim is that of investigating energy poverty in Trieste, by analyzing its origins, consequences and possible responses in an eco-welfare perspective.
The use of research methods predominantly fells on qualitative research tools, seen as the most suitable to understand the conditions behind energy poverty in a fragile living context, and to identify viable policy instruments that are capable of tackling energy poverty in its socio-environmental interdependence.
The research looks at the eco-social responses such as the reduction of structural energy demands working on “capabilities”, the development of energy policies that interact with housing policies to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings. In this respect, the approach we adopt for our research purposes is defined – in the pertinent literature – as consensual approach.
In quantity terms, the research has administered 100 questionnaires to voluntary inhabitants among four neighbourhoods.

Discovering the forms of energy consumption and the economic difficulties to face energy expenditure together with the households

Research Activities

To achieve these aims, we delivered by hand a questionnaire composed by 44 questions, divided into 5 categories:

  • General information about the interviewee
  • Health conditions and features of the domestic space
  • General information about the dwelling
  • Economic condition and management of the energy bills
  • Living condition related to the local context

The fieldwork activities and the identification of available respondents are assisted by the local operators responsible for the Programma Habitat-Microaree, a socio-health program of local welfare system development that acts in specific fragile neighborhoods of Trieste, since 1998. The choice of hand-delivery, rather than online questionnaires, meets the qualitative framework aimed at interacting with the inhabitants by also carrying out fieldwork activities in the target areas of analysis. Furthermore, according to the high aging index that characterizes the city of Trieste, many respondents are old adults, who have little familiarity with digital tools. Ultimately, to spark the interest amongst the inhabitants of the three target areas, we delivered an information leaflet aimed at inviting the inhabitants to interact with us, by omitting the notion “energy poverty”, as it represents a stygmatising buzzword within fieldwork activities.

Is your home warm enough in winter or cold enough in summer?
Do you think the energy costs are too high to afford?

The three target-areas

Borgo San Sergio – “Case dei Puffi”




Contact us at the following e-mail for any query about the research: