Yanks vote overwhelmingly for solar power

"More and more, consumers are interested in solar energy, as the results of this survey clearly show. The message from consumers to homebuilders is clear — builders can differentiate themselves while satisfying customer needs by offering solar electricity on any home they build," said Ron Kenedi, vice president, Solar Energy Solutions Group, Sharp Electronics Corporation.

Even as consumers embrace the technology, they are not fully aware of its capabilities and they have misconceptions about how a solar energy system works in a home. Survey respondents were more likely to recognize solar could turn lights on (82 percent) and heat bath water (82 percent) or a swimming pool (80 percent), than power common electric devices like computers or appliances (71 percent).

There is a gap in understanding that solar electricity operates just like regular electricity and is the same kind of electricity that a local utility company provides.

"As the world’s leading solar manufacturer, Sharp views this uncertainty as a strong reason for educating the public about the features and benefits of solar energy. It can power everything from air conditioning and computers to appliances and vacuums; consumers need to understand why it makes sense, both financially and for the environment," added Kenedi.

Sharp recently launched a unique awareness campaign under the tagline "Hello Sunshine" designed to demystify solar electricity for consumers. Components of the campaign appear in newspaper ads, Internet search results and web page banners — even a colorful traveling education trailer that will move from town to town throughout California increasing awareness and understanding of solar electricity.

The survey also revealed that the financial benefits of solar energy play an instrumental role in a consumer’s decisions about solar electricity. Saving money on monthly energy bills was the primary motivation for consumers to install a solar system, with 84 percent of respondents citing this over any other reason.

More than half of respondents said they would be more interested in learning about solar energy for their homes, if the system would cost them zero money down and they would start enjoying an immediate payback in the form of lower energy bills.

The findings of the survey include:

• 87 percent feel that homebuilders should offer solar power as an option for all new homes; older Americans are less enthusiastic, with 77 percent of those over age 65 supporting solar on new homes.

• Respondents understand that solar power can be used to turn the lights on (82 percent), heat bath water (82 percent) or heat a swimming pool (80 percent).

• Respondents are less likely to understand that solar can power electric devices such as computers or appliances (71 percent).

• Americans over age 65 are least likely to recognize this functionality (56 percent).

• Those in the Northeast (63 percent) and Midwest (65 percent) were significantly less likely to identify this functionality for solar energy, compared to those in the South (75 percent) and West (78 percent).

• 82 percent say that a decrease in monthly energy bills is their primary motivation for installing solar power; other respondents indicated it was to reduce overall energy usage (79 percent), reduce oil dependence (77 percent) or because it is a secure source of energy (75 percent).

• 56 percent would be interested in learning more about solar for their homes if the system could be obtained for zero money down and their utility bills would be lowered right away.

• Younger adults, ages 25-34, are more encouraged by monetary savings, with 67 percent expressing interest in solar.

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