Modern fuels are an important enabler of social and economic development. Still, over 2 billion people rely on traditional biomass for their daily energy needs. To overcome the negative effects of traditional energy on human health and the environment and to enhance the livelihood conditions of the poor, a transition towards cleaner and more efficient forms of energy is needed. Understanding household fuel choice and fuel switching behaviour is of vital importance in search for policies to support such a transition process. This paper adds to the existing energy transition literature in two ways. First, we provide a novel conceptual framework to analyze the decision environment underlying energy and fuel choices. Second, we apply this framework in a meta-analysis of existing choice models investigating energy switching and stacking behaviour in urban and rural areas in developing countries. The meta-analysis shows that socio-economic household characteristics appear to receive most attention so far in identifying groups of fuel users, while relatively little information is available on the impact of the external decision context on household energy choices. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.