Seven out of 10 Massachusetts solar owners believe solar energy is a better investment than a major property renovation or buying a car, according to a recent survey by New England Clean Energy. When asked which of the three was the best investment, 70% said solar, 29% said a property renovation and 1% said buying a car.
The survey also found that seven years after its introduction, the 30% federal tax credit for solar electric systems is a strong motivator for installing solar, with 70% of respondents selecting it as one of their reasons for installing solar. A full 95% of solar owners are happy they installed solar, with a 54% saying they ‘couldn't be happier’ with their solar energy systems.
‘Not many products or services boast a 95 percent approval rate, especially a relatively new product like solar,’ notes Mark Durrenberger, president of New England Clean Energy. ‘I attribute this high favorability to the fact that solar electric systems are reliable and virtually maintenance-free.’
However, the survey revealed a potential concern about the state of the solar installation industry, as nearly one in five respondents replied they had heard of or seen shoddy or unethical work by a solar installer.
‘This was bound to happen as installers flooded solar-friendly Massachusetts,’ Durrenberger says. ‘Our challenge as an industry is to preserve the integrity and professionalism of the solar installation business by raising awareness and educating consumers about what to expect from a solar installer.’
When questioned on industry trends, 96% of respondents agreed the solar market should be subsidized by the government, with 61% saying the subsidy should be indefinite because fossil fuels are subsidized and 35% saying until the solar sector is truly established.
Although 70% of respondents said they were aware Massachusetts is one of the most solar-friendly states in the country, 94% said using a local company versus an out-of-state company is important, because buying local supports neighborhood businesses, helps the local economy and creates local jobs.
When asked about purchasing versus leasing a solar electric system, only 9% said they would be interested in a lease-type agreement with no money down if they were installing solar today, New England Clean Energy says. However, 29% were undecided, and 62% said they would not be interested.
More than half of respondents – 51% – felt that purchasing solar was the better arrangement for the consumer. New England Clean Energy notes that although it offers both leasing and purchase models for customers, all survey respondents had purchased their systems.
The survey also revealed the following statistics:
– 20% of respondents check their solar production online daily, 27% do so weekly and 23% do so monthly;
– 78% know how much energy their system has generated since it was installed (which, in some cases, was years ago); and
– Most people – 63% – used money from a savings or other bank account to make their solar investment, while 28% borrowed money via a bank loan or mortgage refinancing.