One truth that gets glossed over in the debate over how much or how little to incentivize solar energy as part of our energy future – people actively want it. Two reports were released last week to provide some more insight into who these people are and what they like about solar.
The 2017 Residential Solar Industry Study, an in-depth study of the residential solar market produced by market research firm Provoke Insights, surveyed 2,666 consumers nationwide and specifically examined consumer attitudes about purchasing solar power.
“People are motivated to buy solar because of the dramatic cost savings,” explains Carly Fink, principal, head of strategy and research, Provoke Insights. “The cost of residential solar to consumers has decreased by 40% over the past 5 years, making the decision to go solar completely viable for an increasing number of homeowners.”
The conversation about solar power is often initiated when neighbors see solar panels on other homes; approximately two-thirds of referrals are given in person. The study also revealed underlying factors in solar provider choice, looking at net promoter scores. Full disclosure: The Provoke Insights study was commissioned by SunPower and distributed in July 2017 to identify trends, purchasing patterns and customer insights.
- 41% of those surveyed say that the primary reason for choosing solar is potential savings over time and protection against rate increases from the utility company.
- More than half of solar users say that 75% of their electric bill is covered by solar.
- Men are 66% more likely to be the decision-maker in purchasing a solar energy system. Political party affiliation does not dictate the choice to switch to solar.
- Regarding aesthetics, roof orientation is a concern for 70% of solar energy users; panel aesthetics are a concern among 63% of women vs. 59% of men.
- 66% of solar energy users would install a solar energy system again if they moved to a different house.
- 50% of consumers will choose a solar provider based on the recommendation of a neighbor or friend.
- Consumers use three primary payment methods to going solar: Paying cash (36%), financing with a lease (36%) and financing with a solar loan (28%).
Customers favor bundling
Research firm Itron recently released a report, Non-Tariff Revenue Models for Energy Providers, showing 20-25% of homeowners in U.S. broadband households are interested in bundling energy with a home service such as HVAC, warranty, or home security. These findings were presented at the Smart Energy Summit, which focuses on energy efficiency, demand response, and home energy management solutions.
“Bundling solar with energy services received the most consumer interest — 40% of U.S. homeowners in broadband households are interested in bundling solar power purchasing with their electricity bill,” said Tom Kerber, Director, IoT Strategy, Parks Associates. “Roughly 25% of homeowners are interested in bundling HVAC maintenance services or home warranties with energy services. As retail energy providers experience narrowing margins in their core business, they are examining alternate strategies to build new revenues. At Smart Energy Summit, we examine these efforts to diversify and the role of smart home solutions in creating new opportunities.” generation, and energy efficiency offerings.
Other stats from the report:
- 40% of U.S. broadband households are familiar with smart thermostats, but only 11% own one.
- About 50% of U.S. households have smart meters, but the number of the utilities and energy providers offering time-varying rate structures is relatively small.
- Over 50% of U.S. broadband households would purchase a smart device to manage energy consumption during TOU peak hours.
- 38% of U.S. broadband households would purchase a smart thermostat for use in TOU programs.
- 45% of U.S. broadband households have interest in TOU plans.
- 22% of U.S. broadband households would purchase a $250 smart thermostat with a $100 mail-in rebate.
— Solar Builder magazine