Leveraging renewable energy like solar power is no longer just for homeowners. Renters can get in on the game, too.
If you’re interested in solar power but don’t own a home, experts say community solar power may be the answer. “Your best bet is to take advantage of some kind of off-site solar power generation — subscribing to a pool,” he says. Alan RobertsonManaging Director of Solar Energy Development Company blue wavea solar and energy storage development company.
like solar panels on the roof, Community solar programs, which allows customers to purchase cheaper power from nearby solar farms, allowing you to reduce your home energy bills, but without the huge upfront cost of installing solar panels. And since renters usually can’t decide whether to install rooftop solar, community solar is a way for anyone to choose renewable energy — and the cost savings that come with it.
The benefits of community solar energy are capturing the public’s attention. On Thursday, the US Department of Energy, or DOE, announce Efforts to expand the network of community solar projects across the country and increase access to clean, renewable energy to more people, including renters, as part of The Biden administration’s investment agenda in America.
“Ensuring that every community receives the benefits of affordable, clean energy resources like solar power is key to President Biden’s vision of a fair, clean energy future.” US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm In a press release Thursday. “With today’s announcements, the Department of Energy provides an exciting new set of important tools and aids to support the deployment of solar energy across the country so that all communities can enjoy the economic and critical public health benefits that come with deploying renewable energy.”
As part of this initiative, the Department of Energy’s National Solar Partnership has selected 25 teams to Energy Accelerator Society Award worth $10 million. The competition will seek to promote and fund community solar projects across the country.
Rooftop solar alternatives, such as community solar programs, portable solar panels, renewable energy credits – or RECs – are all cheaper and easier ways to participate in the renewable energy revolution. If you’re interested in going solar but can’t afford to invest in rooftops or if you rent your home or apartment, here’s what you need to know to get involved.
Solar options for rental homes or apartments
While landlords may have rules about what you can do with the home you rent, going solar through one of the options below may be possible.
Make sure that your apartment complex or landlord will allow you to use these options and that there are no rules against using solar energy.
There are large scale solar farms built locally to power the communities. Community solar allows people to buy cheaper solar energy from a solar farm without installing a full solar system at home. You can pay for community solar power through subscriptions and, in some cases, through an existing utility company.
“This is the most commercially available and has been tried, tried and true,” says Robertson. “It works and is a good way to contribute and support the solar industry and save money on your electric bill.”
- Easy access to solar energy through community projects.
- Instant savings on your electricity bill.
- An option for people who can’t put shingles on their roofs.
- Participate in clean energy.
- Not many community solar projects are available (yet).
- It is difficult to find a community solar project.
- The savings are not that high compared to if you had your own system.
Portable solar panel system
Portable solar power systems It can be an efficient way to use solar energy without the cost of installing solar power in a home – especially one that you don’t own. Portable solar power systems are mobile and can be easily set up. They can help you save a little money and can be taken with you if you decide to leave your home.
- Easier to set up than a solar installation.
- It can help offset electricity costs.
- This system may qualify for 30% Federal tax credit. (Check with a tax professional.)
- Small enough that you can take it with you wherever you go.
- It produces less energy than a ground or rooftop solar system.
- You need to use the grid for most of your energy.
- Inverters and storage systems for portable solar power systems can be very expensive.
Buy renewable energy certificates
The biggest part of Renewable energy certificates, or RECs, is that they allow anyone to participate in the clean energy movement without having to purchase solar panels. RECs represent one megawatt hour of renewable energy and can be purchased through retailers and utility companies. It costs extra if you don’t have solar panels. Rooftop solar system owners can sell to regional economic communities where the market is located to help offset their utility costs. Tenants who don’t own the plates can just buy them.
- These certifications allow you to invest in clean energy without building solar panels.
- Renewable energy certificates can be tracked and recorded.
- It can take a lot of work to figure out where to buy renewable energy certificates.
- Some RECs can be very expensive, depending on where you live.
- You get clean energy, but at an additional cost.
conventional solar panels
You may plan to live in the house you rent for a long time. In this case, you can speak to your landlord and pay for the solar installation in full. It may be a big investment, but it will save you more money over time.
- Reduces your carbon footprint.
- It allows you to save on electricity costs over time.
- You are paying for a system that you will not be able to take with you if you leave.
- Buying and installing a complete solar system can be expensive, especially for a home you don’t own.
- You are paying for a system that the homeowner may not want to buy if you leave.
- The panels are not easily transferable.
Is it worth using solar energy if you don’t have a home?
The simple answer is: it depends. “Renters definitely have options – there’s value in community solar. It’s a great way to participate directly, support solar and get the direct benefits of solar power, which is a reduced electricity bill,” says Robertson.
Even if you don’t own your home or rent an apartment, you have several options to choose from. Find out which option is right for you, and make sure the landlord or apartment complex approves it.