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How Home Builders Succeed with Solar

Conventional wisdom on the markets for energy efficient solar powered homes holds that these homes will appeal only to niche early-adopter markets. It posits that these homes cost more to build and therefore are more expensive to buy than standard code built homes. It would follow that production builders should offer solar panels optionally to buyers with unique motivations, such as environmentalism. Conventional wisdom also assumes that mainstream homebuyers are motivated by economic payback on an incremental financial investment for solar power and other energy efficiency features. That their satisfaction is contingent on the perceived payback of energy features.

However, The US Government’s Natural Research Energy Laboratories (NREL)’s in-depth study of SheaHomes’ experience from 2001-2003 in the San Diego sub-division of Scripps Highlands turns conventional wisdom on its head. NREL’s research found that if solar was already on the house, and factored into the price, buyers were more likely to buy a house with solar and pay more for that house. When solar was an optional upgrade, it was just one more decision to be made at the point of purchase that usually got shelved.

The SheaHomes experience suggests a new market paradigm is needed to sell energy efficient solar powered homes. Home buyers feel that builders know what they are doing and trust that there must be a good reason if they offer solar panels as part of the home package. 

Solar isn’t hard to sell for home builders in Alberta. Our experience at SOLARMAX Power in the last three years proves this.  We have added solar panels to over 250 new homes in Alberta. Our learnings are consistent with the NREL study of SheaHomes.  Sales staff just need to offer solar and builders need to follow SheaHomes lead and make it standard in homes with a roof suited for solar panels. How different can Alberta in 2015 be from California in 2001?

Here is link to NREL’s 413 page report. The executive summary is worth reading. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy07osti/38304-01.pdf


Posted by: kylek
Posted on: 2015-09-02 00:00:00