Sharp Electronics, a maker of photovoltaic solar panels, is out with a survey that says 90% of Americans think that solar power generation systems should be offered as an option in all new homes.

The survey, released during PCBC in San Francisco this week, cites savings on energy bills as the primary motivator of respondents. More than half said they would be interested in investigative solar systems if their cost could be rolled into a mortgage and result in immediately lower utility bills. Sharp did not disclose in its press materials if the respondents to the survey, which was conducted among a sample of 1,004 adults by the Roper organization, were aware that solar systems can cost from several thousand dollars for a passive solar-hot water system to $40,000 or more for a power generation system for an average 2,000 square-foot home.

Still, the results of the survey led Sharp to create an alliance with CitiMortgage that will provide homeowners with funding for a solar energy system via a "streamlined" home equity loan program. Among the key findings of the study:

-- 87% feel that home builders should offer solar power as an option for all new homes; older Americans are less enthusiastic, with 77% of those over age 65 supporting solar on new homes

-- Respondents understand that solar power can be used to turn the lights on (82%), heat bath water (82%) or heat a swimming pool (80%).

-- Respondents are less likely to understand that solar can power electric devices such as computers or appliances (71%) Americans over age 65 are least likely to recognize this functionality (56%.) Those in the Northeast (63%) and Midwest (65%)were significantly less likely to identify this functionality for solar energy, compared to those in the South (75%)and West (78%).

-- 82% say that a decrease in monthly energy bills is their primary motivation for installing solar power; other respondents indicated it was to reduce overall energy usage (79%), reduce oil dependence (77%) or because it is a secure source of energy (75%).

-- 56% would be interested in learning more about solar for their homes if the system could be obtained for zero money down and their utility bills would be lowered right away. Younger adults, ages 25-34, are more encouraged by monetary savings, with 67% expressing interest in solar.