Peer Influence a Big Factor in Choosing to Install Solar
Solar is being installed at ever-increasing rates – and not just by people with high incomes and liberal leanings. A recent study shows that the biggest factor in a homeowner’s decision to go solar isn’t income or politics but whether other houses in the neighborhood had done so. According to this Washington Post article, there is a sense of pride in choosing clean energy, and it tends to rub off on the surrounding community.
Our own research into American climate values supports these findings. Time and time again, we’ve seen that Americans follow their tribes – and on climate issues, they’re influenced more by trusted members of their community than by environmentalists. We’ve also found that both Democrats and Republicans are strong supporters of clean energy. To learn more, check out our 2014 Psychographic and Demographic Insights report.
Chris Mooney, Contributor to the Washington Post
Who chooses to install solar panels on their roof? You might assume that the people who do so are probably fairly rich (an average installation can cost around $35,000, prior to tax credits or other incentives), and most assuredly, politically liberal. They can afford it, and it fits their values to boot.
According to a new study, though, politics and income may not be such important factors after all. Examining the spread of solar photovoltaic residential installations in Connecticut, two researchers at Yale and the University of Connecticut found instead that the single most important factor driving whether a given house installed solar was peer influence — whether other houses nearby had recently done so. In other words, much like with buying a Prius, it looks like installing solar has a lot to do with how you want people around you to think of you. “People have called it green envy before, where you want to be green so that you can show off your greenness effectively,” says Yale’s Kenneth Gillingham, a professor at the School of Forestry and one of the study authors.
Image credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake