With rising energy costs and solar home installation panel prices falling, governement solar tax incentives and rebates as high as they have ever been in history is it any wonder that solar ownership for middle America is rising? Maybe not.
In a recent statistic, 42% of upper middle class homeowners are considering installing solar photovoltaic panels in the next 5 years. When conducting online, survey-based market research through Zoomerang, 1BOG asked respondents from five regions in the America “How likely are you to consider installing solar panels on your home sometime in the next five years?”
People that were asked whether they would consider installing solar panels on their home in the near future were over the age of 35 with an annual household income of at least $100,000. Respondents were evenly divided male and female. Of the 332 homeowners that completed the survey, 140 marked “maybe,” “probably” or “definitely,” indicating that middle class homeowners appear to be considering solar in increasing numbers.
The number of people that might want to install solar panels on their homes may be even higher with a little more education on the potential savings. An astonishing 67% of the people surveyed underestimated the monetary savings possible by going solar. With a better understanding of the costs and benefits of home solar panels, people considering the switch to solar power would probably be more likely to take action.
In a related article, a white paper released this month by the California Solar Energy Industries Association, states that homeowners can best receive more gains in saved energy not by utilizing fluorescent bulbs and other more energy efficient appliances, but by installing solar panels to supplement their electricity consumption.
The California Solar Energy Industries Association does concede that “factors such as climate, age of the home and utility rates all dramatically affect the relative economic benefits of these measures,” and that since individual homeowners will be undertaking the financial investment necessary to install solar implements on their roofs or in other locations, solar panels must be considered in the context of each individual home’s economic situation.
According to the California Solar Energy Industries Association white paper, a total of 22 percent of the energy in the United States is consumed by the residential sector of the population and economy, whereas automobile energy consumption only accounts for approximately 17 percent of the total. “Actions that individuals take to reduce home energy costs will give them more disposable income,” CALSEIA articulate in the white paper, “while simultaneously creating good local jobs, improving our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”
The California Solar Energy Industries Association white paper’s blog of the relative cost effectiveness of various common energy saving implements includes an array of “green” technologies. The white paper stipulates that, in particular, lighting retrofits are “always cost effective,” with a payback occurring in less than one year, and that weatherization and insulation energy efficiency actions are “most cost effective in old homes in cold climates,” where they yield paybacks in less than a total of three years, but may not be cost effective for newer homes that are built in temperate climates.
Interestingly, the California Solar Energy Industries Association white paper also notes that upgrading to Energy Star appliances is not cost effective unless the appliances are replacing broken down or otherwise obsolete equipment.