SunPower homeowner survey finds more, diverse interest in solar, storage

SunPower New England

High profile grid failures, power outages and mounting electricity bills are driving many U.S. homeowners to strongly consider and purchase solar with attached storage, according to a new survey released by SunPower Corporation. The 2021 SunPower Energy Sense Index surveyed 1,500 homeowners in the U.S. to better understand their home energy experience, industry knowledge, and the factors motivating them to consider renewable energy.

A total of 1,500 respondents completed the survey, which was conducted by Schlesinger Group, an independent research company. Key findings include:

Many homeowners live in fear of power outages

Concerns around energy instability impact a large percentage of Americans: two in five respondents worry about power outages on a monthly basis, with one in five worrying every single week. Accordingly, more than half of homeowners that experienced a power outage in the last year say their level of trust in their electricity provider has wavered.

Outages cause homeowners to take action 

One third of those considering solar cited high-profile outages as a key reason to start investigating systems for their homes. Seventy percent of this group plan to include a battery for energy storage in their initial purchase for resilience during outages, compared to market demand of under 6% last year according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Additionally, compared to homeowners who didn’t experience an outage in the past year, those that did are nearly four times more likely to have purchased solar panels and storage. 

Solar consumers diversifying

Residential solar installations in the U.S. have grown steadily over the last two years, increasing by 11% in 2020 and reaching a record 3.1 gigawatt of capacity according to SEIA and Wood Mackenzie. The Index shows an industry poised to capitalize on that growth with new solar buyers.

While 74% of solar users who participated are millennials or Generation Z, baby boomers represent the majority of those currently considering solar. People in lower income brackets are also adopting solar: nearly three quarters of those considering solar earn less than $100,000 annually, compared to just 34% of those who already have solar on their homes.

While those who own or are considering solar are largely concentrated in the South and California, the Midwest is the next most promising area for solar adoption with 24% of homeowners considering solar hailing from this region.

Cost is at the center of solar decisions

As solar is poised to break into new income brackets, the survey data underscores that cost is critical to those considering solar, as well as those who already have systems installed in their homes. Lowering electricity costs is the number one reason homeowners purchased solar, followed closely by resilience during power outages. Seventy-nine percent of those considering solar cite cost as the reason that would prevent them from pulling the trigger — yet 60% of all survey respondents overestimate the average cost of purchasing a solar system.

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