National Survey Reveals 2 out of 3 Homeowners overestimate the cost of solar panels

Sources: Solar Industry Magazine and MarketWatch

Nearly all U.S. adults – 97% – overestimate the costs of installing solar systems on their homes, while nearly 8 out of 10 of those who do not

already have solar panels say they would install solar if cost were not a factor, according to the results of a recent survey from Sunrun.

In partnership with Harris Interactive, the company conducted a nationwide poll assessing 2,211 U.S. residents’ beliefs about the desirability and cost of solar panels.

Four out of 10 U.S. adults believe that installing a home solar system requires $20,000 or more in up-front costs, Sunrun says, noting that it and other firms offer solar leases that do not require upfront costs.

The vast majority of Americans are concerned about rising home energy costs from utility companies, as 95% of U.S. adults who do pay and/or are aware of their utility costs cited their rising utility rates as a concern. The survey also indicated that 44% of respondents would install solar within the next year if they knew cost were not a factor.

“The widespread myth that solar is too expensive is a remnant from the time when buying costly panels for tens of thousands of dollars was the only option,” said Sunrun President and co-Founder Lynn Jurich. “Fortunately that era is over. Misinformation is the root of the problem, and this data can help increasing numbers of homeowners get educated and opt into solar.”

Solar is a Smart Financial Choice

Not only does solar power service cost consumers little or nothing upfront, but according to the National Renewal Energy Laboratory (NREL) Harris-Survey-Infographics2 it also can allow homeowners to “save money the very first month, rather than breaking even a decade later after an initial investment.”

“When it comes to money matters, ignorance is rarely blissful. When it comes to solar money myths, misinformation actually prevents U.S. homeowners from making smarter financial decisions,” said Manisha Thakor, Harvard MBA and former portfolio manager turned bestselling author and financial literacy advocate. “Solar power service has become something any homeowner should now consider as part of a modern investment portfolio, if it’s available to them. Among other benefits, it offers homeowners the unprecedented ability to plan and predict one of their largest household expenses for years to come: energy. Consumers can direct any savings from solar to other top financial priorities like paying off debt or investing in retirement.”

Solar Service Eclipses Other Forms of Home Solar

Though many Americans don’t realize there is a way to go solar without the high upfront costs, solar power service — also known as third-party-owned solar — has become the preferred way for consumers to go solar in the nation’s leading solar markets. In California for example, according to data from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) about three-quarters of those going solar choose solar power service.

Over the past 12 months, market share for solar power service climbed steadily in California and reached about 75% of the home solar market in February 2012. One in every three Californians switching to solar chooses Sunrun.

Use Price per Watt to Get Best Value

“Comparing price per watt is one of the most effective ways of determining the efficiency and return on investment of any home solar installation,” said Scott Gordon, SPV of Sales for HelioPower, a California based solar installer with nearly 3000 completed installations.

“Real value is about getting the lowest price per watt for the highest quality system installed as quickly as possible,” Gordon said. “Anyone who is serious about going solar will use these criteria to save thousands of dollars on a solar purchase or lease and enjoy a faster return on your investment. The cost of solar panels themselves have fallen dramatically in recent years.”

HelioPower delivers the highest value in home solar in California, according to an independent consumer study of all major solar power installers in the state.

Figures released by PV Solar Report, a daily digest for California’s solar power industry, found HelioPower ranked highest in the state for offering the best value to its clients, with a price per watt at $5.55, compared to the state average of $7.82 per watt as of March 14, 2012.

Overall, HelioPower provides over twice the value of the worst-performing large installer’s rate of $12.57 per watt for that date, the study reported. These unscrupulous outfits are keeping the cost of solar panels artificially high for their unsuspecting customers.

Price-per-watt value measuring is important in ensuring a consumer gets a fair deal. Prices quoted March 14 by PV Solar Report indicate the cost for an average 5 kilowatt home solar system at between $27,750 for HelioPower (at $5.55 per watt) and $62,850 for the highest-priced competitor (at $12.57).

That’s a difference of $35,100 saved on an average sized solar power system by choosing HelioPower: a value leader in the industry.

PV Solar has also found HelioPower to be among the quickest in terms of getting the job done.

“Our data shows HelioPower consistently delivers one of the lowest prices per watt of the state’s solar installation firms and one of the shortest installation times,” said Stephen Torres, founder and managing director of PV Solar Report.

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