As essential as bread: Fuelwood use as a cultural practice to cope with energy poverty in Europe

Ana Stojilovska, Dušana Dokupilová, João Pedro Gouveia, Anna Zsófia Bajomi, Sergio Tirado-Herrero, Nóra Feldmár, Ioanna Kyprianou, Mariëlle Feenstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Fuelwood has been overlooked by European energy transition policies, despite its importance as a domestic energy source for many European households. We study fuelwood use for coping with energy poverty based on the lived experience of energy-vulnerable households in five diverse European countries (Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and North Macedonia). From their perspective, fuelwood is a central and multifunctional tool for coping with energy poverty because of its many favorable features, including enabling energy security and access, that overweigh its adverse environmental and health impacts. We argue that the use of fuelwood for coping with energy poverty is embedded in cultural practices building upon the interconnection of three stages of coping behavior. The first stage is fuelwood becoming a socio-cultural norm, which means it is considered a cultural practice for coping with energy poverty due to its many benefits that protect the energy vulnerable from increasing energy prices, disconnections, and further energy deprivation. This enhances the subsequent phase, featuring the normalization of subsistence which is the acceptance of life with minimal energy needs. This leads to the final stage with increasing system detachment which is continued reliance on individual and informal arrangements of satisfying energy needs and avoiding seeking or demanding institutional support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102987
Number of pages15
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Biomass
  • Coping strategies
  • Energy vulnerability
  • Europe
  • Firewood
  • Lived experience


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