Over the past few years, solar energy has become increasingly more popular among homeowners, and is predicted to be more ubiquitous in the future. By now, most of us probably know someone with solar panels on their home, or have considered going solar ourselves. The pitch is simple and the advantages of solar are clear; the cost of solar panels has come down over 80% over the last five years, and installing them will save you money by offsetting electricity costs with clean and renewable electricity. As a result, many solar installers, big and small, have hopped on the solar bandwagon, marketing solar to consumers, each claiming to provide the best prices and service.
This week’s Eco Genius of the Week is not another patter about the benefits of solar or why to go solar. Instead it is about EnergySage, a company that you should check out, if you are contemplating going solar.
What is EnergySage?
Energysage.com is “the kayak.com of solar” – the industry’s first online comparison-shopping marketplace for solar PV systems. It helps homeowners, businesses and non-profits to easily and quickly request, review and compare quotes online from pre-screened solar installers. It is a brilliant tool for evaluating an investment in a solar panel system for your property.
How does EnergySage work?
EnergySage offers three key features:
- Learn: The learn tab is a source of impartial information on solar energy systems. It is a great place to go to learn about solar, solar panels and other equipment, how they work, financing options like solar loans, leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs). Popular topics include Solar 101, financing your solar PV system, and Solar Buyer’s Guide.
The EnergySage blog also shares a few handy tips, answers some frequently asked questions, and posts the latest news.
- EnergySage Solar Marketplace: This is where the magic happens. EnergySage starts by providing you with an instant estimate. The instant estimate feature quickly gives you a ballpark estimate of the costs and savings that a solar panel system will deliver for your specific property. With under a minute of effort, you will receive an amazing amount of information culled from leading industry and proprietary market price databases. Simply provide an address and monthly electricity usage (you can just provide an estimate) to create an instant estimate for your property. Then, pinpoint a roof using a clever Google maps integration.
The results include an assessment of your property’s suitability for solar, real-time market price driven costs and savings (for all financing options including solar loans and solar leases) and the environmental benefits. The breadth of information and its specificity allows you to get answers to your most important questions about solar for your property in a comfortable setting, without engaging with a solar sales person.
After looking over the ballpark estimate, you can move forward to get actual quotes from solar installers. You can then signup on the Marketplace, set up your preferences and sit back as pre-screened installers respond with quotes online. Installers compete with each other, saving you money. You can then compare quotes on an apples-to-apples basis — all within minutes. As a result, you can be certain that you are getting the highest quality installation and equipment at the best price.
- Share Your Experience: People who already have installed solar PV or other clean energy systems have the ability to share their experience and encourage others to do the same. Consumers can either write reviews of solar installers, panel manufacturers and financing companies, participate in online Q&A forums, and create a “case study” of their own installation and share their experience, pictures and advice for future consumers. We encourage you to check out which of your neighbors have installed solar and how much money they are saving.
Accolades: EnergySage has received two prestigious SunShot awards from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The Takeaway: EnergySage makes it very easy for consumers to research and shop for solar panel systems online. Their tools save the consumer time and money by doing most of the heavy lifting. The process only takes a few minutes and eliminates the inconvenience of researching equipment and financing options, or finding qualified installers. The Marketplace allows consumers to compare quotes, so they know they are getting the best deal.
Written by: Tim Craig