Californians go solar to save electricity costs: CSE survey

A CSE survey on Californian homeowners who have installed solar panels shows that saving money on electricity costs is the most important reason for going solar.

While 74 percent of the total 2,350 solar homeowners surveyed in the San Diego Gas & Electric service territory cited money savings as the prime criteria, 71 percent cited energy efficiency upgrades as another reason for going solar.

The future solar adopters may be an ideal market segment for making more comprehensive energy upgrades, according to the CSE survey.

The survey was conducted on various factors inspiring investment in a solar PV system and to assess their perspectives on energy efficiency.

87 percent of participants had engaged in energy efficiency with the majority only taking basic steps prior to solar installation, adapting low-energy solutions.

According to the market segmentation descriptions, the survey group was divided into “leading achievers” and “practical spenders,” based on income, education and other demographics.

Leading achievers installed the solar due to environmental concerns and to reduce use of on fossil-fuel energy, while practical spenders considered solar only as an investment to increase property value, said, Ria Langheim, research analyst, CSE.

On the other hand, the practical spenders prefer energy efficiency to connect to home maintenance with the benefits of comfortable indoor temperatures and improved air quality.

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For the leading achievers, motivation for energy efficiency was high, with being green in and reducing carbon footprint. They considered energy efficiency upgrades as a precondition to solar to reduce consumption and minimize PV system size.

The data indicate that solar customers realize that energy efficiency upgrades offer cost savings along with home comfort, health and safety helping to engage them in taking additional energy measures.

Consideration should be given to integrating solar into energy efficiency programs and framing solar as a component of a comprehensive home energy upgrade. This may help future solar customers to explore the full range of energy efficiency options as well as encourage contractors to offer both energy efficiency and solar installation services, said Langheim.

The energy efficiency actions of California homeowners provide insights into the connection between solar adoption and energy upgrades that could help in the design of future residential energy programs.

The state government is planning to expand the residential energy efficiency market, demanding for reducing energy consumption in residential buildings by 40 percent through 2020.

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