Women as a group are the most powerful communication vehicle in the world. When women believe in something, they spread the word faster and more effectively than any advertising can. When it comes to buying power and buying power: They rock.

Women and the Solar Industry

Laureen Peck | Solar Energy World

Tell us about Solar Energy World.

Locally owned and operated, Solar Energy World is the fastest-growing independently owned solar systems design and installation company in the region.

Why do you envision women being a key audience for solar?

Women as a group are the most powerful communication vehicle in the world. When women believe in something, they spread the word faster and more effectively than any advertising can. When it comes to buying power and buying power: They rock.

The US Department of Commerce 2011 & US Bureau of Labor and Statistics says, “Women are earning, spending and influencing spending at a greater rate than ever before.” Women are responsible for $7 trillion in consumer and business spending in the United States; they will control two-thirds of consumer wealth over the next decade; and they make or influence 85% of all purchasing decisions.

In addition, a recent Solar Electric Power Association Survey found that women express a higher concern for and interest in the environment than men. (89% of women reported they felt that solar and wind will play an important part in our country’s future and 97% reported taking measures at home to conserve energy.)

Why do you feel sustainability is an important topic for women?

In most cases, women are the family caretakers whether or not they work outside the home. So it makes sense that women worry a lot about financial security for themselves and their loved ones.

Living sustainably, whether that means telling the kids to turn off lights when they leave the room, turning your thermostat down and wearing sweaters in the winter, or switching from fossil fuels to solar electricity to power your home, can increase financial security because it saves money. It lets homeowners save more money that they can put toward medical expenses, education, retirement savings and more.

The bottom line is that living sustainably helps women have a more secure financial future for themselves and their loved ones.

For example, many of our customers have cut down their average monthly energy bill by 75% or more. All of our customers have had months where they didn’t pay anything for their electricity. Solar also is a great investment. The typical return on investment for Solar Energy World customers is 125% in 5 years, 250% in 10 years, 350% in 15 years and 500% in 20 years. CDs, savings bonds and the S &P 500 can’t come close. Plus, customers who have solar panels on their homes see an increase in home value of $40,000 on average.

How should moms educate their children on the importance of sustainability?

Children do not think as much about financial security as their moms do. But most children love the outdoors and living creatures. The environmental message will resonate best with children. The message could be that using renewable energy sources for power is better for the environment because it cuts down on pollution. Pollution is poison that goes into our land, air and water and essentially kids, adults and animals like dolphins, sea turtles, migrating birds, etc. are all affected negatively by it.

How did the Solar Stars Soirée originate?

A Pew research study found that women are either in charge or an equal partner when it comes to making financial decisions for the household whether or not they are the breadwinners of the household. Yet very little has been done by renewable energy marketers to specifically target this audience. There is a huge communication gap.

In focus groups women say that when they look at most renewable energy companies’ websites or marketing materials, the message is either focused on “going green” with pretty pictures or filled with techno babble or overly detailed information that seems like it was written by robots.

Marketers may be able to get the attention of women with emotional messaging about protecting the environment, but when it comes to making a major purchase decision, most women just want to know the bottom line. Women are already predisposed to think more about protecting the environment for future generations than men are, but that is not the only thing they care about. If it were, they would all be insisting that their families go solar.

The problem is that there is a misperception by many women that solar is too expensive, no matter how much they care about eco-issues. In some cases they veto their partner or spouse’s desire to go solar because they have already made their mind up that their family simply cannot afford the investment. They believe they are protecting their families from wasting money.

Because financial security is of the utmost importance to women, marketers should make sure their communications recognize women’s concerns. Women need to believe that going solar actually will help them and their families have a more secure financial future. Once they believe it, buy it, and know it from first-hand experience, they will spread the word faster and more effectively than any advertising can through conversations with friends, family, networking and social media.

This is mainly what the Solar Stars Soirée was all about.

What other ways do you find effective in promoting solar energy adoption and your company?

Workshops are one of the best ways to educate homeowners. Events at schools are also good for getting the word out to parents.

What upcoming events are you hosting?

Solar 101 workshop for homeowners at our headquarters on November 3rd.

Earth Day events for schools in 2013

How do you train your installers or do you seek primarily experienced staff?

Our crew leaders receive installation training from our various module manufacturers (Schüco, SunPower, etc). Some classes are hands on and some are online. All of our installers have been doing solar installations for several years. We do not have any newbies on board at present.

During the installation they are supervised by a Solar Energy World NABCEP-certified solar designer/installer and a Solar Energy World licensed master electrician. We do not hire subcontractors. Every installer works directly for our company.

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