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Install solar panels

Currently, only around 21% of U.S. electricity comes from renewable sources. Installing solar panels at home lets individuals reduce their power bills and help decarbonize the power sector. A mature solar industry and state and federal subsidies have helped the U.S. reach nearly 3 million residential solar projects by 2021.

What’s Going On

Americans understand the benefits of rooftop solar, as indicated by strong perceived personal and community benefit scores. So why do we see hesitancy to adopt as expressed by an average intention-to-adopt value of just 15%? The data suggests Americans think solar is a good idea—for somebody else. The Index tells us people are confused about how much it costs to install solar, and we expect thatoutdated beliefs about cost and complexity prevent more Americans from prioritizing solar installations.


We know that seeing a neighbor go solar can cause other community members to go solar. And programs like Solarize campaigns that combine collective buying power with social influences have also been proven effective. But on balance, solar is still “sold” more than it is “bought”. A program combining social influence with personalization and collective benefits should help Americans prioritize rooftop solar, voluntarily seek it out, and be confident in the estimates they receive.

The Impacts

We modeled a change of 10% increase in households using 100% green energy from a combination of rooftop solar panels, green energy bought from a utility, and solar water heating. We expect an estimated 82 million MtCO2e avoided annually. This results in an avoided cost to society of between $4 to $42 billion per year.

For more information related to the Climate Culture Index research or findings, contact Brandon Schauer at bschauer@rare.org.