Rooftop, Solar

Listen Up: How Do Solar Companies Find Their Customers?

According to a recent study, residential solar installation costs in the U.S. were basically unchanged from Q4 2014 to Q4 2015. But Customer Acquisition costs actually went up. While solar panel, inverter and mounting system costs have consistently declined, the data show that it is getting increasingly expensive to identify, contact and sell a system to a homeowner.

I find it quite ironic that the marketing and sales costs to find a solar customer are greater than the labor costs to actually install a system. There is a lot of money to be made in identifying a warm body who is interested in solar. In fact, many companies in the solar industry focus only on customer acquisition — and sell the resulting leads or signed contracts to local installers.

My guest on this week’s show is Chris Stern, a founder of Pure Energies. They started out as an installer in Canada, but then began to specialize in customer acquisition. Pure Energies became so effective at finding potential solar customers that they sold the business to a national scale solar installer. Please join me on this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as Chris explains the website “funnels”, internet advertising tricks and call centers that provide fuel to the residential solar industry.

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. Credit: Shutterstock.