Renewable Energy for Renters

If you own your home, installing solar panels on your roof is a sound financial decision in almost every state in the nation.  But what if you are a renter?  How can you benefit from solar energy?  Here are a few ways renters can make their electricity use “green” and improve their environmental footprint…typically while saving some money:

Ask your landlord to go solar. Chances are pretty great that your landlord has not considered going solar.  What landlords typically do not know is that they can improve the desirability of their property by installing solar.  Not only will solar increase the property’s overall value, it can also provide an opportunity for increased cash flow by providing solar electricity for purchase by you, the tenants.  If done properly, the tenants will receive electricity for less than they are currently paying – that is a win-win!  Here are a few tips on what you can say.

Participate in shared solar. Another opportunity for renters to “go solar” is to subscribe to a shared solar project.  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. 

Purchase renewable energy credits.  Most electric utilities offer options for anyone to assure that their electricity is provided through renewable energy sources like wind or solar.  An example of this is Xcel Energy’s Windsource.  

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 below your window sill or maybe even 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.

Solar at small scale. 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.  You can also explore options for participating in solar project crowd investments.