In debates related to energy poverty, the link to questions of residential segregation remains somewhat peripheral.
Because, usually, only energy-poor households are at the focus and residential mobility is not addressed, the interdependencies
between households’ energy costs and the residential segregation of cities remain out of sight. Concern
that energy efficiency measures could foster socio-spatial segregation in cities has recently emerged in Germany. If only
households with higher incomes can afford housing with high energy efficiency standards, whereas low income households
tend to choose non-refurbished but, in sum, more affordable housing stock, an increasing concentration of poor
households in poor housing conditions would result. German energy efficiency and CO2 reduction policies are relatively
insensitive to such questions.
Using survey data from a small shrinking city in Germany, we explore how energy costs are interrelated with residential
location decisions and, thus, with segregation processes and patterns. Shrinking cities represent an interesting case
because, here, a decreasing demand for housing stimulates residential mobility and paves the way for dynamic reconfigurations
of socio-spatial patterns.
We found that energy-related aspects of homes play a role in location decisions. Low income households seek to
minimize housing costs in general, paying specific attention to heating systems, thermal insulation and costs. Resulting
segregation effects depend very much on where affordable and, at the same time, energy-efficient housing stock is spatially
concentrated in cities. These findings should be taken into consideration for future policies on energy in existing
Keywords: Energy Efficiency, Residential Mobility, Segregation, Shrinking Cities.
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