Zogby poll: US homeowners want energy choice

The new Zogby Analytics poll commissioned by clean tech advisory firm Clean Edge Inc. and clean energy provider SolarCity found that 69 percent of homeowners want more choices when it comes to their energy and electricity supply.

“U.S. Homeowners on Clean Energy: A National Survey,” confirmed that a significant majority of Americans (88 percent of homeowners) support renewable energy. 

The poll also was among the first to ask homeowners directly if they would be interested in solar for their own homes. Sixty-two percent said yes. This is particularly notable, given that there are more than 75 million owner-occupied housing units in the U.S. and fewer than 500,000 photovoltaic installations.

The poll also reveals the persistence of a myth that clean energy products are not affordable. Less than half of all homeowners nationally understand that solar power is more affordable than it was three years ago, despite that prices for solar panels have dropped by more than half during this time period and solar electricity prices can beat utility rates in a growing number of locations.

Although homeowners generally view their current electric utilities favorably, 73 percent of homeowners said they would welcome clean energy provided by an entity other than their utilities.

Some utilities have attempted to impose fees and taxes on solar customers as a way of suppressing rooftop solar deployment, but energy providers should take note. Three out of 4 poll respondents voiced opposition to these types of efforts, saying that utilities should not be allowed to enforce restrictions on on-site energy systems. Though the sentiment was shared across all demographics, it was strongest among Republicans, conservatives and middle-aged or elderly homeowners.

“Other surveys have looked at general green-consumer activity, but ours is among the first to focus on U.S. homeowners – a group that makes the majority of clean energy residential purchases,” said Ron Pernick, managing director at Clean Edge. “The shift to clean energy solutions was deep and wide across all demographics. Indeed, consumers not only want choice but also want to protect their right to install their own distributed energy and storage systems.”

Additional Findings

“-                     Economics are driving adoption. Respondents cite zero up-front costs and ongoing cost savings as the top two reasons for considering solar for their homes.

“-                     Some 70 percent of all homeowners consider or investigate the sustainability of big-ticket items when making purchasing decisions, and more than half are more likely to take sustainability considerations into account today than they were three years ago.

“-                     The most popular planned clean energy purchases in the next year are LED lightbulbs (31 percent of homeowners), followed by smart thermostats, double- or triple-pane windows, hybrid cars and Energy Star-rated water heaters.

“-                     During the past decade, clean energy products and services – including solar photovoltaics, utility-scale renewables, hybrid electric vehicles and green buildings – have experienced double-digit compound annual growth rates more akin to smartphones and the Internet than that of the energy and transportation sectors.

More than 1,400 U.S. homeowners participated in the survey. Respondents were selected randomly to answer questions about renewables, energy efficiency, clean transportation, energy storage and related topics. All interviews were completed in January 2014. The margin of error for the survey is =/- 2.7 percentage points. SolarCity and Clean Edge plan to release the homeowner survey annually.

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