Guess Who Is Buying Solar PV?

Jennifer Runyon

image: Solar on a Home via Shutterstock

About six months ago, I had the pleasure of taking part in the unveiling of preliminary insights about who is driving the purchasing of solar PV in the home. At the time, researchers Raina Russo of #SolarChat and Glenna Wiseman of Identity3 had compiled some initial results from their survey of America women and mothers about solar power buying habits. Though the survey was still open at the time, Russo and Wiseman had already uncovered some pretty fascinating data, including the fact that the majority of the time, women are the main drivers behind the decision to go solar.

Its been widely documented that today about 80 percent of women are the bill-payers and the controllers of the family budget so the fact that women are the ones initiating the decision to investigate solar should not come as a big surprise. After all, putting solar PV on a home can often reduce utility bills from day one according to major solar leasing companies like Sunrun.

However, what is surprising is that according to the latest National Solar Jobs Census, women only represent 20 percent of the solar workforce. That could lead to a real disconnect, as far as Russo is concerned. “This is my personal opinion but it is based on my experience with this data and by talking to women all across the U.S.,” she explained. “We need more women in the solar workforce and we need to market to women.” Russo said that of course she doesn’t think that means that men cannot sell products and services to women, but asks “would it make a difference if a woman was at that kitchen table talking about the benefits of solar PV? Maybe.”

At the very least, it’s important for any company to understand what women say is the best way to sell them solar and that’s what Russo and Wiseman have put together. The report details what marketing channels most appeal to women from social media to company websites to cold calling. It then explains how women come up with their “short list” of companies to call for quotes and discusses important aspects of what works for women during the “in-person” meeting.

The survey will be discussed on #SolarChat April 9, 2014, where a host of leading marketing experts will be featured including Marti Barletta of Trend Sight, Leah Segedie of Bookieboo LLC and, Andrea Luecke of The Solar Foundation, Krystal Glass of The National Women’s Business Council and Glenna Wiseman of Identity3 and Women4Solar. The panel will be moderated by Raina Russo, recently named by The Energy Collective as a top 10 woman in solar.

A portion of the survey proceeds will go to Heather Andrews Scholarship Fund at Solar Energy International (SEI) to further its mission of women’s solar training. The SEI Women’s Program provides in-person, technical workshops in a supportive learning atmosphere to bring more women into the renewable energy field.


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