Along with the growing number of Americans exploring powering their homes from the sun, comes the need to help consumers through the complex process of going solar.
Residential rooftop solar grew 66% in the US last year. That means more consumer marketers and salespeople in the marketplace. More meetings with contractors and solar salespeople. More information to understand and more confusion.
Because there are many parts and intricacies of the transactions involved -- some not so obvious and some difficult to grasp -- the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) created a "Be Solar Smart Checklist," which offers a step-by-step guide to simplify the complicated. It is part of a consumer tool trio including IREC's Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights, theSolar Smart Consumer Checklist, and a Consumer Resources link list.
The three consumer tools were released today by IREC, an independent, not-for-profit organization that has been increasing consumer access to safe, affordable renewable clean energy for nearly 35 years.
"These three practical guidance documents are equally important for consumers, government agencies, the industry, retailers, and others in the market," says Larry Shirley, chair of IREC's Board of Directors. "The consumer trio is a natural progression for IREC, which has always promoted consumer access and quality assurances by initiating standards, best practices, credentialing schemes, and model rules and procedures," says Shirley.
"After a home, a solar system could be one of the biggest investments a consumer makes," says Consumer Reports Policy Counsel for Energy and Environment Shannon Baker-Branstetter. "It's important for consumers to have independent information to guide them through the process to make sure reality meets their expectations and benefits of installing solar are realized."
IREC's Be Solar Smart Checklist provides questions for consumers to ask and ways to assure they are securing a safe installation and a fair deal. It walks through the issues that help consumers make informed decisions to meet their expectations and get the most from their investments.
IREC's Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights is a unique, unbiased tool intended to ensure that consumers have a positive experience with clean energy products, technologies, service providers, marketers, sellers and other market players including utilities. It also serves as a guide for government agencies and consumer groups to reference for practices and protocols they should expect and require of clean energy service providers.
"IREC doesn't have any financial gain in solar transactions," says Weissman. "The protective measures listed in the Bill of Rights strike a fair balance for the consumer and the companies that sell products and services."
IREC's Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights addresses important consumer issues, including safety, contractual transparency, warranties, advertising, privacy and other protective measures.
Other organizations and associations in the solar and clean energy field offer valuable information and explanations. A list of current publications are referenced in the online Consumer Resources link.