Listen Up: What Influences People to Install Rooftop Solar?

Ahhh. The Holy Grail of Customer Acquisition. Maybe it’s low price … great company reputation … special technology … brand name products … ubiquitous marketing? I’ve tried all of them and they all work, to a degree. But these tactics are not cheap, consistent or scalable.


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There is an answer, one that is pretty much right in front of our eyes. Research into this topic is described in the following paper: “Spatial Patterns of Solar Photovoltaic System Adoption: The Influence of Neighbors and the Built Environment.” This research was spearheaded by Dr. Kenneth Gillingham, a professor of economics at Yale University. Dr. Gillingham is not an ivory tower solar newbie. He’s been doing research in the solar industry for over a dozen years going back to his days at Stanford. Interestingly, one of his projects was crunching the numbers in an enormous spreadsheet that led to the economic justification for the California Solar Initiative.

Ken’s research confirms that if your neighbor has rooftop solar, there is a much greater chance that you will have solar (or want to get solar). Rooftop systems tend to cluster in a neighborhood, regardless if these neighborhoods are wealthy or liberal. It’s almost as if solar is contagious! Please join me on this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy world as Ken explains the way in people are influenced to go solar, which is termed the Diffusion Effect. So listen up to this week’s show for some practical tips on finding new customers and reducing your customer acquisition costs.

Find more episodes of The Energy Show here.

About The Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices. 

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock


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