Can the Clean Energy Industry Benefit From Its Own Version of Edmunds.com?

This 2011 map created by Columbia University illustrates the estimated Total Annual Building Energy Consumption for New York City. This kind of information is appealing to us at EnergySage. We’re obsessed with how much energy households are using, what it costs, where it comes from, and how to make the whole energy equation better by using clean energy systems. But if information like this were readily available, would it appeal to a broad base of residential and commercial property owners? And, what might happen if it were?

The Key to the Clean Energy Revolution

As we were mulling these questions over, this marketing blog from Seth Godin was asking the same kinds of questions although from a slightly different perspective. Individual choices about energy consumption affect the larger community in a variety of ways: through environmental effects, political implications, national security issues, and a whole host of others. As Seth points out, there isn’t always a big, ugly smokestack belching toxic gasses to signal a problem to the general public. Sometimes, in fact, most of the time, these community costs aren’t very transparent. But, as these effects become easier to measure and information becomes more and more available, will the community at large begin to take action to change the status quo?

EnergySage believes that transparency will drive the clean energy revolution. We haven’t generated a map about energy consumption by building, but what we have made available is a searchable database of local “case studies.” Imagine what happens when consumers can see what’s going on with the clean energy systems installed in their neighborhood; if they could see how much it cost, how much the home or business owner is saving, how the system is performing, what the maintenance requirements are, etc. We believe this kind of peer-to-peer network of transparency gives homeowners the kind of information they need to make a confident decision about installing a clean energy system. (If you have a clean energy system and want to share your experience and expertise with others visit http://www.energysage.com/share-your-experience).

More Information, More Opportunity, More Solar Savings

We think there are plenty of other opportunities for transparency to work its magic with respect to clean energy. The availability of credible, comprehensive information about consumer products has transformed many other industries. Take for instance the automobile market: Most consumers can find out how much a car costs, its MPG, the average cost to maintain it, features, etc. on sites like Edmunds.com. Imagine what might happen if prospective clean energy consumers could find out similar information about solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy systems. We believe consumers would be much more likely to buy and install clean energy systems if they had ready access to information about the applications, suitability, and economics of these systems. It would definitely make clean energy marketing and sales professionals’ jobs a whole lot easier. As selling costs are reduced, prices might start to come down. This in conjunction with increased confidence on the part of consumers would be a powerful engine for increasing clean energy systems use.

We think that the old adage Information is Power is certainly true when it comes to clean energy. What do you think?

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