TODAY’S STUDY: HOW U.S. HOMEOWNERS SEE ROOFTOP SOLAR
U.S. Homeowners on Clean Energy: A National Survey; 2014 Poll Results & Clean Energy Growth Trends
March 2014 (Clean Energy and SolarCity)
Over the past decade, clean-energy products and services—including solar PV, utility-scale renewables, hybrid electric vehicles, and green buildings—have all experienced double-digit compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) more akin to smartphones and the Internet than that of the usually staid energy and transportation sectors. It’s a distributed revolution, with significant adoption of clean-energy technologies across broad demographic groups.
To better understand this rapidly expanding market, and the consumers behind it, SolarCity and Clean Edge commissioned a survey of U.S. homeowners by polling firm Zogby Analytics. While a number of previous surveys have looked at overall green consumer trends, this is the first study focused on U.S. homeowners and their choices and attitudes towards a wide range of clean-energy technologies. Respondents were randomly selected to answer questions about renewables, energy efficiency, clean transportation, energy storage, and other related topics. The purpose of the survey was to learn what homeowners know and think about clean-energy products and services, electric utilities, third-party energy service providers, and consumer choice.
All interviews were completed in January 2014. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.7 percentage points.
Key highlights from the 2014 U.S. Homeowners on Clean Energy Survey include:
Homeowners Want Energy Options
* While homeowners generally view their utilities favorably, a majority of homeowners (69%) say they want more choices when it comes to their energy and electricity supply.
* Reflecting this desire for choice, three out of four respondents believe that utilities should not be able to block individual residential customers from installing distributed solar power, energy storage, and other onsite systems. Such sentiments were strongest among respondents that identified themselves as Republicans, Conservatives, the middle-aged (55-69), and elderly (70+), at 80%, 83%, 89%, and 94%, respectively.
* A solid majority of homeowners (73%) say they would welcome an inexpensive and reliable form of energy provided by someone other than their current utility.
* 62% of American homeowners say that they want solar power for their homes.
* Four in ten Americans say they have recently experienced power outages with their current utility and that motivates them to get backup power; 50% of homeowners are interested in backup power for their homes.
Support for Renewables is Strong and Widespread
* A solid majority of homeowners nationally (88%) believe that renewable energy is important to America’s future.
* Support is high among all major political affiliations, with respondents that identified themselves as Republicans, Democrats, and Independents coming in at 87%, 93%, and 83%, respectively.
Homeowners Weigh Environmental Impact, but Economics Rule
* Homeowners say they care about the environmental impact of their car, home, and other major purchases. More than two-thirds of all homeowners (70%) consider or investigate the environmental impact/sustainability of big-ticket items when making purchasing decisions.
* Such environmental considerations are increasing. Nationwide, more than half of homeowners said they were more likely to make such considerations today than three years ago.
* While homeowners say they care about the environment, economics drive most purchasing decisions. Respondents cite zero up-front costs and ongoing cost savings as the top two reasons for considering a solar power installation. For backup energy storage systems, cost tops the list of key factors influencing purchasing decisions.
Clean-Energy Purchases are Becoming Mainstream, but Perceived Price Barriers Persist
* The most popular planned clean-energy purchase in the next year are light eminating diode (LED) light bulbs (31%). The LED revolution is taking hold much more rapidly than many had expected, showing that lower prices for LEDs (around $10 a bulb), coupled with mid- to long-term savings, are attracting consumers. After LEDs, the next most common planned clean-energy purchases for homeowners in the next year are smart thermostats (11%), double- or triple-pane windows (10%), hybrid cars (9%), and Energy Star-rated hot water heaters (9%).
* Electric vehicles could be poised for growth similar to hybrid vehicles over the past decade. Among homeowners, 7% stated that an Electric Vehicle (EV) would be among their next clean-energy purchases.
* Perceived price barriers have kept some homeowners from adopting clean-energy products. Less than half of all homeowners nationally (45%) believe that solar power is more affordable today than it was three years ago—even though during the past several years prices for solar panels dropped by more than half. As noted above, homeowners state that low up-front costs, and savings over time, would drive increased adoption of solar power and other clean-energy purchases.
In the following report, SolarCity and Clean Edge delve into these findings, analyzing the inaugural homeowners’ survey.
The report also includes a look at the high growth of clean-energy technologies over the past 10 years and a discussion of recent consumer adoption trends.
SolarCity and Clean Edge plan to release the homeowner survey annually, with the next report scheduled for early 2015.
The 2014 report is available for free download at www.cleanedge.com/reports here