The simple answer for renters who want solar panels for their apartment or home is that it is possible. Through a number of methods, a renter can still cash in on the financial benefits of solar even if they don’t own their property.
If you’re renting and paying your own utility bills, you may think that there’s no incentive for your landlord to switch to a system powered by clean energy. But, switching to solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind power, geothermal, biomass or combined heat and power could be a win-win situation for you and your landlord. You already know you, as the tenant, would benefit by limiting future increases in your utility bills. But can you really convince your landlord that it’s in his or her best interest, too? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” All you need to do is present a compelling case. So, here’s how:
Solar panels for renters: how to pitch your landlord
- Show your landlord the value of this investment. Your landlord knows that his or her rental property is an asset, and like any asset its value will increase with an investment. Recent studies have shown that clean energy systems actually increase property values. They also make the property more attractive to both buyers and renters. Renters are less likely to leave, but if they do, the amount of time it would take to sell or rent the property is reduced significantly.
- Show your landlord how this could work. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for any landlord will be the purchase price of the system. Let your landlord know that you are willing to help finance the system by paying him or her the amount of money you were previously sending to the utility company. By making a direct payment to your landlord equal to what you were already paying to heat or power your home, you can put a cap on the amount you pay for energy while providing your landlord with an income stream to pay debt service on the clean energy system.
- Address any other concerns your landlord may have. Your landlord might be worried that tenants who no longer have to pay to heat or power their home might crank up the thermostat or leave every light in the place on. Suggest a simple fix: If your landlord installs a clean energy system, agree to use exactly the same amount of energy you used before and, if you use more, agree to pay your landlord the difference. That’s only fair, right?
- Direct your landlord to EnergySage’s Solar Savings Estimator. Your landlord will be able to see directly how much money can be saved by going solar!
The most common ways for a renter to go solar
When looking for alternative ways to go solar, other than giving your landlord a call and talking through an installation on your apartment complex or leased home, community solar (also known as shared solar) is a great option for you to consider.
Community solar refers to a scenario where you are “going in” on solar with a group of people, often in a community or neighborhood, in order to benefit from the financial payoffs and emission reduction but without having to put the panels on your own roof. In 2018, community solar is heating up across the U.S. and has become incredibly common in certain states (California, Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts and New York are the top performers). Community solar requires no conversation with your landlord whatsoever – you can decide on your own if you want to pursue it. Depending on where you live, roofless solar can be incredibly easy. In states with popular community solar programs, you might find that people in your neighborhood are already connected to a shared solar garden. At the end of the day, you won’t see it on surrounding roofs so it will be less obvious where this hot new program is picking up.
To find out what solar would cost you or your landlord (depending on which method you plan to use) you can try our personalized instant estimate tool to get a ballpark figure.