“What is in it for me?” A people-centered account of household energy transition co-benefits in Poland

Jan Frankowski*, Sergio Tirado Herrero

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Household energy services account for a large percentage of global final energy use and of carbon emission reduction potentials. Phasing out solid fuels is expected to contribute to the low-carbon energy transition while delivering health and environmental co-benefits. Poland, a coal-based country where nearly half of the population relies on solid fuels for domestic heating, has introduced fuel switching schemes for assisting households transition towards cleaner energy carriers. In this paper, we investigate the experiences and motivations of beneficiary households in a solid fuel stove replacement programmes operating in Northern Poland between 2015 and 2017 through the lens of co-benefits. Collected data include a 140-household survey and 15 interviews with programme intermediaries at the municipal level. The results identify significant increases in thermal comfort, free time and cleanliness along with improved indoor air quality as key well-being effects of heating systems upgrade. These reported impacts contrast with the institutional clean air rationales underpinning the interventions. Our findings challenge the idea of a neat one-way transition, as participant households stated their reluctance to fully abandon solid fuel-based heating because of perceived uncertainties around future energy prices and supply. The findings warn too about the potentially regressive distributional effects when subsidy allocation mechanisms overlook the income and needs of beneficiaries. To conclude, we put forward the notion of household-level ‘everyday life’ co-benefits as a lever for improved citizen engagement and for advancing energy transitions in the residential sector.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101787
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Air quality
  • Co-benefits
  • Energy transition
  • Households
  • Poland
  • Socio-technical transitions
  • Solid fuels


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