Solar Tour 2010 Revelations on Why People Buy Renewable Energy

Why do people buy solar energy installations for their home? A solar energy system costs around $20,000 for 2 kilowatts of power and $40,000 for 5 kilowatts of power so the investment requires more thinking than typical purchases. One cannot simply try it out and return it within 30 days. There was a trend amongst the half dozen homeowners I had a chance to interview while on a solar tour.

This past Saturday, Oct. 2 2010 I had the pleasure to visit several homes in my area as part of the 2010 Southern Nevada Solar Home Tour. There was not a whole lot of information on the website, but I'm glad I went. The way it works is you show up to a central location, for Las Vegas that location was the Springs Preserve. You fork up $15 ($10 if your car is a hybrid) and in return you get wristbands for your party, booties to cover your shoes, a giant map of the homes with directions and addresses, and finally a program with pictures and highlights of the renewable energy and energy efficiency installations of the home or business. You drive your own car to the different locations and are able to discuss with the owner their decisions to go solar or obtain other energy efficiency products, from Energy Star Appliances to advance glazing (window) technology.

So back to the original question: Why do people buy solar energy installations for their home? Is it because they are tree hugging environmentalists? Was is because they were fighting climate change? Was it because of the many financial incentives that Nevada has?

Surprisingly, all of the homeowners and business owners I got to talk to purchased solar energy because it was the cool thing to do. The cost of the installation was not much of a deciding factor. Typically they were the type of people that had enough money where tacking on an additional $12,000 to their purchase price was not a deterrent. Additionally, the most environmentally aware homeowner, who had her own bottle of environmentally friendly microbial bacterial home cleaner did not even believe in climate change. She simply had enough money to take her energy bill down to $10 a month for the utilities service charge.

How did it happen? Were these people brainwashed?
More or less many of these individuals had interactions with Solar NV, which when described to me was more or less a solar social club that meets once a month to celebrate solar energy and to hang out more or less. Call it American to put a premium on being cool, but the truth is that creation of solar communities is an effective way to spread solar energy.