There’s a funny thing about the way we often discuss solar power compared to other household goods. We don’t often refer to cars as “investments.” We also don’t tend to do so with TVs, game consoles, refrigerators, ovens, etc.
Granted, when we’re very attentive to energy efficiency, we may do so with some electronics and appliances. However, I don’t think that’s the norm.
But do so obsessively with solar power. It’s all about “investment” and return on investment (ROI). There are clear arguments as to why solar is different from some of the above, but there are also arguments for why it’s in the same boat.
For example, we need refrigerators, ovens, and electricity. Our choice is simply between which is the best option. Looking at solar vs other electricity options overall, solar is clearly the best option. People know this. Or, at least, they think they know this (but haven’t done an in-depth comparison) — which is just as good. Yet, solar is still on a tiny percentage of our roofs, and the decision to put it on one’s roof is almost always looked at from an investment or financial comparison point of view.
Transportation is also in the boat above, but if one were to compare the value or “payback” of cars versus other modes of transport, and make one’s decision to buy a car or not based on that decision, most of us wouldn’t own cars.
Clearly, there’s a double standard at play here.
Anyway, to the story of the day: homeowners do at least realize that going solar is a much better investment than buying a new car.
Seven out of 10 Massachusetts solar-owners believe solar energy is a better investment than a major property renovation or buying a car, according to a recent survey by New England Clean Energy. When asked which of the three was the best investment, 70 percent said solar, 29 percent said a property renovation, and 1 percent said buying a car.
In write-in comments, survey-takers expounded on their choices:
“Solar yields immediate, no-maintenance dividends, and boosts the home’s value. Renovations can be hit-or-miss.” (Eric Fix, Marlborough)
“It is a great investment that reduces your monthly expenses. The other two only raise your monthly expenses.” (Tom Aciukewicz, Harvard)
“It’s like putting money away for retirement” (Paul and Patricia Peavey, Pepperell)
The survey found that the 30 percent federal tax credit for solar electric systems is a strong motivator for going solar, seven years after its introduction, with 70 percent of respondents selecting it as one of their reasons for installing solar. And 95 percent of solar-owners are happy they installed solar, with a full 54 percent saying they “couldn’t be happier” with their solar energy systems.
The question is, why aren’t more people going solar instead of buying new cars? I think that’s a question solar marketers need to spend a lot of time considering.
One thing I always thing marketers need to focus on more is the coolness factor. Cool sells. Sexy sells. So sell solar as cool and sexy!
Strong facts in support of a product also sell. The survey above certainly provides some facts that solar marketers could make more use of.
“Not many products or services boast a 95 percent approval rate, especially a relatively new product like solar. I attribute this high favorability to the fact that solar electric systems are reliable and virtually maintenance-free. As one customer told us, she forgets her system is even there until she opens her monthly electric bill,” said Mark Durrenberger, president of New England Clean Energy. “Plus, solar pays you back. How many purchases do that?”