I’ve been doing marketing for the solar industry for the last 10 years, and although the U.S. solar industry has completed over two million installations across America, residential and commercial solar are still less than 2% of the overall grid. Why? Glad you asked.

I suspect that the reason that the majority of Americans did not call a solar installer last Tuesday is that there are still a few myths; i.e., that solar is too expensive, and even when that perception is proved wrong, the people who can and want to go solar have other priorities. I mean, your lights are on, you’re not directly feeling the effects of climate change (sorry Puerto Rico!), and you can afford your higher fossil-fuel utility bill.

In other words, what’s for lunch is more immediate and important compared to getting a solar quote and zeroing out your monthly utility bill. I get it.

So how can we change that? What might motivate more Americans to at least get a solar quote and see what those savings are?

Instead of selling savings and no-money-down, I believe that solar installers should be selling something even more valuable: enabling American families to have more freedom and independence:

  • Freedom from high utility bills
  • Freedom from dependence on grid’s fossil fuel energy
  • Freedom from the sudden utility rate changes
  • Freedom to crank the air conditioner on a hot summer day without worrying about the extra cost.

Framing solar with a rebel independence mindset is a concept that has resonated with America since, oh, say since 1776. In fact, residential solar gives Americans extra power (pun intended), endowing parents and their kids the freedom to leave on the lights and run the clothes dryer without King Utility Man taxing you for the extra use of his grid energy. Yes, sir and ma’am. Go solar and you can have the freedom to waste all the energy you want! No limits, America!

…Or not.

Sadly, there are a number of disconnects that make people stay connected to King Utility, and it’s not because solar has a high upfront cost. There are many $0-down programs today that will allow Americans to go solar and immediately save at least 10% on their electric bill.

The reason why the solar [r]evolution hasn’t happened across America by last Tuesday has more to do with solar suitability, local and national policies, and utility grid limitations and monopolies.

As it stands today, essentially you have to be part of the American tribe that a) owns a home or building (not rents) and b) has the right amount of sunlight and/or local policy conditions to make the payback in 5 to 7 years. And as for grid defection, that’s another complicated can of economic and policy worms that I won’t get into here.

The bottom solar marketing & messaging line is that it’s no longer enough to market solar through energy savings and ROI or the environment.

Instead, I believe that the U.S. solar industry’s true magic marketing sauce is that solar can give American home and business owners more lifestyle freedom, like the freedom to turn up the air conditioner on a hot summer day and to give the finger to their electric bill. #EnjoySolar

Tor Valenza aka “@SolarFred” is a solar marketing and communications consultant.