Now that Americans are shopping for their health insurance plans in one centralized online location, it would appear that the solar industry might be falling behind.
Not for long, however. The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative awarded $1.25 million last week to EnergySage, an online marketplace for solar installations. This s the second grant EnergySage has received from SunShot. The first was $500,000 to launch the project in 2012.
SunShot’s current mission is to help bring down the cost of solar – which has dropped more than 70 percent in the last three years – by tackling soft costs like permitting, racking, installation and others.
Providing a platform for comparison shopping helps motivate installers to find new efficiencies to compete with each other. The site allows consumers to compare solar products and financing options available in their areas so they can make an educated and informed decision about how to proceed.
“Our focus continues to be on making shopping for solar as easy as shopping for any other home appliance,” Vikram Aggarwal, said EnergySage Founder and CEO. “Since launching our Solar Marketplace, we’ve received tremendous validation from consumers and the industry. We are grateful for the continued support of the Department of Energy that this second award represents.”
The current EnergySage platform allows consumers to compare quotes from different installers, adjusted with automatic system-size calculations that show costs and benefits.
The DOE award will enable EnergySage to take its program one step farther and develop it so customers will be able to see the suitability, costs and benefits for their specific property.
Much like online travel websites that allow shoppers to compare airfare or the newly launched healthcare marketplace designed to show consumers options, the EnergySage site provides an opportunity for solar installers and financiers to present their offerings to customers in an online marketplace where they’re likely to buy.
“This is how consumers are shopping for everything else and it’s how they want to shop for solar, too,” Aggarwal added. “Online shopping will create a mass-market opportunity for solar. Providers are realizing this and value the benefits of receiving a large volume of educated, ready-to-buy leads through the EnergySage platform.”