The Most Effective Way to Encourage Solar Power Usage? Practice What You Preach

Yale researchers have discovered the key to getting more communities to participate in using solar energy.


When it comes to encouraging others to utilize power in leu of traditional methods, Yale researchers have discovered the key to getting more communities to participate in using solar energy. It turns out that, leading by example, is the most effective method. According to the Yale University study, social networks play a key role in the willingness to implement solar energy for various communities. It is the leaders and proponents of solar energy that must lead by example, or in other words, practice what they preach if they want to see an increase in solar energy utility usage from local residents and businesses.  

Professor Kenneth Gillingham, along with the Yale Department of Psychology, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found from their research how to better encourage residents and businesses to use solar energy. If community leaders actually install solar panels or other renewable energy resources for their own homes, they are able to encourage nearly 62.8 percent more residents to utilize solar power utility themselves, compared to leaders who do not use solar power.  

This evidence in regard to solar power implementation that Yale researchers have gathered fits their initial hypothesis. Credibility-enhancing displays, or CREDs as they are often referred to, describe the effect one’s actions can have compared to their words. According to this theory, one’s actions are more telling than the words they say or the beliefs they hold. When this theory was tested and observed against solar power implementation, the results were as they expected. 

Leading by Example 

When we observe our peers engaging in the same acts that they are encouraging us to do for ourselves, this sends a clear signal that the individual truly believes the act is beneficial, and therefore their stance is more believable and accepted. Words alone will not be enough to encourage residents and businesses to make the switch to solar power alternatives. Gillingham believes these research findings can help us better understand how to bring solar power utility to the mainstream. 

Additional findings from the University of Alberta have backed up the same results found by Yale researchers. John Parkins, environmental sociologist for the University of Alberta, stated that their initial study was conducted to find out what motivates Canadians to implement solar power utility. Thanks to the 2,065 people surveyed in the study, Alberta researchers were able to get a good sense of what makes solar energy utility desirable or not for residents to use for themselves. They noticed that when technologies were implemented all around residential cities and became more familiar, overall, their introduction into everyday life seems more doable. 

More Work to Be Done 

The findings of the solar power studies from both Yale and Alberta University will need to be considered seriously, particularly for Canada. Currently, only 0.3 percent of total electricity used by the population in Canada comes from solar or renewable energy resources. Perhaps these psychological findings can help raise that number and solar power participation in the region. Parkins believes that solar technology can and will be implemented across the entire country of Canada eventually. By exploring consumer attitudes about and engagement in solar energy, we can better learn how to increase participation and interest.  

These psychological studies and findings most certainly have their place in the realm of solar energy and, perhaps, can help state leaders and solar energy companies make a 100% solar-powered Earth a nearer and very real possibility. Yale researchers, the University of Alberta, and others who are eager to discover what psychological keys are needed to unlock individual desire to utilize solar power utility are on the right track, bringing psychological science into the realm of environmental science. Taking the plunge and making the switch from traditional utility will only be possible for some residents when they see the wide-scale implementation of such solar energy resources and are able to conclude for themselves the value in solar power. City and state leaders should now be paying particular attention to their own usage of solar power and consider that their own, private actions will speak far louder to the community than just mere utterances of the advantages of solar power.  



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