Kimberley O’Sullivan


Research Fellow

Kimberley’s research explores the relationships between energy poverty (fuel poverty), energy use behaviours, energy efficiency of housing and buildings, and the important interactions of these with health. Kim is currently leading research exploring the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on home energy use in New Zealand, and health outcomes of the Winter Energy Payment between 2018-2020. She has expertise in energy poverty and health research, and consumer experiences and impacts of prepay electricity. Kim undertakes mixed methods, participatory, internet mediated, and qualitative research – design and analysis. Recent research has focussed on youth experiences of energy poverty, using collaborative research methods to involve young people in the research process; energy use among people who work from home; and using online methods in public health research.


Research Presentation Please Watch

Kim on Radio NZ:
Kim’s work profiled in Consumer New Zealand:

Chapter in Book – Research

O’Sullivan, K. C. (2019). Health impacts of energy poverty and cold indoor temperature. In J. Nriagu (Ed.), Encyclopedia of environmental health. (2nd ed.) (pp. 436-443). Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9.11566-0

O’Sullivan, K. C., Viggers, H., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2018). The value of experience: Including young people in energy poverty research. In N. Simcock, H. Thomson, S. Petrova & S. Bouzarovski (Eds.), Energy poverty and vulnerability: A global perspective. (pp. 188-201). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Howden-Chapman, P., Chisholm, E., Telfar Barnard, L., Viggers, H., O’Sullivan, K., Bennett, J., Bierre, S., Preval, N., Randal, E., Tiatia, R., Ombler, J., Amore, K., Rivera-Muñoz, G., … Davies, C., Aspinall, C., Oliver, J., Baker, M., Keall, M., … Crane, J., & Pierse, N. (2017). Housing, energy and health in resilient cities. In P. Howden-Chapman, L. Early & J. Ombler (Eds.), Cities in New Zealand: Preferences, patterns and possibilities. (pp. 95-106). Wellington, New Zealand: Steele Roberts Aotearoa.

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Journal – Research Article

Teariki, M. A., Tiatia, R., O’Sullivan, K., Puloka, V., Signal, L., Shearer, I., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2020). Beyond home: Exploring energy poverty among youth in four diverse Pacific island states. Energy Research & Social Science70, 101638. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2020.101638

O’Sullivan, K., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2017). Mixing methods, maximising results: Use of mixed methods research to investigate policy solutions for fuel poverty and energy vulnerability. Indoor & Built Environment26(7), 1009-1017. doi: 10.1177/1420326X17707327

Chisholm, E., & O’Sullivan, K. (2017). Using Twitter to explore (un)healthy housing: Learning from the #Characterbuildings Campaign in New Zealand. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health14(11), 1424. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14111424

O’Sullivan, K. C., Howden-Chapman, P., Sim, D., Stanley, J., Rowan, R. L., Harris Clark, I. K., … the Waiopehu College 2015 Research Team. (2017). Cool? Young people investigate living in cold housing and fuel poverty: A mixed methods action research study. SSM Population Health3, 66-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2016.12.006

O’Sullivan, K. C., Stanley, J., Fougere, G., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2016). Heating practices and self-disconnection among electricity prepayment meter consumers in New Zealand: A follow-up survey. Utilities Policy41, 139-147. doi: 10.1016/j.jup.2016.07.002

O’Sullivan, K., Telfar Barnard, L., Viggers, H., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2016). Child and youth fuel poverty: Assessing the known and unknown. People, Place & Policy10(1), 77-87. doi: 10.3351/ppp.0010.0001.0006

Howden-Chapman, P., O’Sullivan, K., Bierre, S., Chisholm, E., Hamer-Adams, A., Ombler, J., & Amore, K. (2015). What effect will the 2015 budget have on housing? Policy Quarterly11(3), 13-19.

O’Sullivan, K. C., Howden-Chapman, P. L., & Fougere, G. M. (2015). Fuel poverty, policy, and equity in New Zealand: The promise of prepayment metering. Energy Research & Social Science7, 99-107. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2015.03.008

O’Sullivan, K. C., Viggers, H. E., & Howden-Chapman, P. L. (2014). The influence of electricity prepayment meter use on household energy behaviour. Sustainable Cities & Society13, 182-191. doi: 10.1016/j.scs.2013.10.004

O’Sullivan, K. C., Howden-Chapman, P. L., Stanley, J., & Hales, S. (2013). Kids in the cold: Outcomes for New Zealand households with children using prepayment metering for electricity. New Zealand Medical Journal126(1371). Retrieved from

O’Sullivan, K. C., Howden-Chapman, P. L., Fougere, G. M., Hales, S., & Stanley, J. (2013). Empowered? Examining self-disconnection in a postal survey of electricity prepayment meter consumers in New Zealand. Energy Policy52, 277-287. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.09.020

Howden-Chapman, P., Viggers, H., Chapman, R., O’Sullivan, K., Telfar Barnard, L., & Lloyd, B. (2012). Tackling cold housing and fuel poverty in New Zealand: A review of policies, research, and health impacts. Energy Policy49, 134-142. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2011.09.044

O’Sullivan, K. C., Howden-Chapman, P. L., & Fougere, G. (2012). Death by disconnection: The missing public health voice in newspaper coverage of a fuel poverty-related death. Kōtuitui7(1), 51-60. doi: 10.1080/1177083x.2012.672434

O’Sullivan, K. C., Howden-Chapman, P. L., & Fougere, G. (2011). Making the connection: The relationship between fuel poverty, electricity disconnection, and prepayment metering. Energy Policy39(2), 733-741. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2010.10.046

Howden-Chapman, P., Viggers, H., Chapman, R., O’Dea, D. J., Free, S., & O’Sullivan, K. (2009). Warm homes: Drivers of the demand for heating in the residential sector in New Zealand. Energy Policy37(9), 3387-3399. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2008.12.023

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Journal – Research Other

O’Sullivan, K. C., & Chisholm, E. (2020). Baby it’s hot outside: Balancing health risks and energy efficiency when parenting during extreme heat events. Energy Research & Social Science66, 101480. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2020.101480

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Conference Contribution – Published proceedings: Abstract

O’Sullivan, K., Howden-Chapman, P., and the Cool? 2015 Research Team. (2016). Cool young things: Youth research peer experiences of energy inefficient homes. Proceedings of the SENIX Conference: The Role of Social Sciences in a Low-Carbon Energy Mix. (pp. 11). Retrieved from

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Conference Contribution – Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

O’Sullivan, K. C. (2017, April). Energy use when the home is the office: An exploratory interview study. Poster session presented at the First International Conference on Energy Research and Social Science, Sitges, Spain.

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Conference Contribution – Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

O’Sullivan, K. (2016, July). Youthful energy: Finding opportunities for improving thermal comfort through energy transition with youth-led participatory research. Verbal presentation at the Energy Cultures Conference: Sustainable Energy Futures: Understanding Behaviour and Supporting Transitions, Wellington, New Zealand.

O’Sullivan, K. C., Viggers, H., Howden-Chapman, P., and Waiopehu College Social Action Research Team 2016. (2016, September). Cool at school? Pilot study: Mixed methods action research with youth to investigate the indoor environments of New Zealand classrooms. Verbal presentation at the 4th European Conference on Behaviour and Energy Efficiency (Behave), Coimbra, Portugal.

O’Sullivan, K., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2015, June). Cool? Collaborating with youth to explore fuel poverty: Participation, pitfalls, and progress. Verbal presentation at the 3rd International Conference of the International Childhood and Youth Research Network: Theory and Method in Child & Youth Research, Nicosia, Cyprus.

O’Sullivan, K. (2009, April). Fuel poverty in NZ. Verbal presentation at the National Energy Research Institute Second Energy Research Conference: NERI’09, Wellington, New Zealand.

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Awarded Doctoral Degree

O’Sullivan, K. C. (2013). Power and control: A multiphase mixed methods investigation of prepayment metering and fuel poverty in New Zealand (PhD). University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Retrieved from