Nearly three out of four Americans now advocate making renewable energy a priority. Solar is by far the most accessible form of renewable energy available to most homeowners. Thanks to market demand and wide availability of financing options, it’s also one of the most affordable.
But what if you don’t own your home? Can you still enjoy the financial, social and environmental benefits of solar if you rent?
Solar for Renters
Many people assume that being a renter precludes any possibility of going solar. While it’s technically possible to rent a solar home, the chances of finding one for rent in your area are pretty slim. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Here are some proven strategies tenants can use to make solar happen despite lack of home ownership.
- Convince your landlord to go solar. What incentive might a landlord have to go solar? Plenty! Providing solar panels for apartments or even for single-family homes is a great way to improve the desirability of the rental property, attracting higher-quality tenants and reducing vacancies. Depending on financing options, solar panels for landlords can easily prove to be a cash flow-positive upgrade — if the landlord is able to collect as much or more in additional rent and/or utility fees than the monthly payment on the panels.
- Participate in shared solar. One of the biggest solar trends to emerge lately is the concept of community solar. This includes solar farms, solar gardens, and other solar projects owned by a municipality, utility, co-op or other organization. Participants typically pay a monthly fee for the energy provided by this off-site solar installation. In return, they get a credit on their utility bill for the energy generated by the panels.
- Install portable solar panels. While most landlords won’t allow tenant-owned panels to be installed on their roofs, they may not object to portable solar panels set up in the backyard or driveway. Most of these are not nearly as powerful as a regular solar installation, but these solar panels for renters can help to offset at least a portion of your electricity usage. Alternatively, if you are a long-term tenant, you might consider asking your landlord if installation of a ground-mounted solar system on the property is permissible.
- Get a solar phone charger. One of the simplest and most inexpensive ways for renters to go solar is to purchase a solar charger for your laptop or phone.
- Invest in the solar industry. No matter where you live, you can support solar in your community — or even worldwide — by investing in solar and related companies. There are even solar energy mutual funds that make it easy!
Whether you are a landlord or tenant, it’s a good idea to make sure there are provisions on the lease to cover solar issues before installing solar panels on the property. For instance, be clear about who is responsible for maintaining the system, including trimming vegetation to prevent panel shading.
As you can see, there are many ways to enjoy the benefits of solar energy even if you don’t own your home. If you are a tenant and have found a way to go solar at home, we’d love to hear about it — just add your comment below!