You can go green and use a solar panel even if you rent your home or apartment. There are ways to harness the energy of the sun to your benefit, even if it it's in smaller ways than building a solar energy efficient home.
There's no need to invest thousands of dollars if you are a renter, but you can do your part with saving energy...here's how.
First, before you rent, seek out apartment buildings that already use solar power. There are many of these around especially in very sunny locations. You may even get lucky to find a solar energy home to rent.
Currently, in the United States, California is leading the charge in the area of solar apartment living. Check out Ironhorse at Central Station in Oakland, Crescent Park in San Rafael, and Solara in San Diego County.
Japan is probably the most proactive in the area of building solar friendly apartment communities. They're very popular and are filled to capacity almost immediately because of all the perks and cost benefits solar brings to apartment living.
If you can't find a place that uses solar power, or you already are renting a place, then talk to the owners about the benefits of installing the panels to heat water and generate electricity. Make sure you're armed with as much information as possible rather than just making a suggestion that really goes nowhere because the landlord would be the one who would have to do all the research and ground work.
Take a close look at your lease agreement before discussing the options with your landlord. A lot of landlords prohibit the addition of any structure on the outside of the building, which means you wouldn't be permitted to install solar panels without specific permission. If you approach your apartment community owner or manager and they give a verbal approval, ask for the permission in writing so you're not faced later with taking it down once they see what it looks like or decide they don't want solar panels on their building.
Next, talk to the other residents in your apartment building. They too many be interested in lowering their energy costs each month and be open to helping you pitch the solar energy idea to your landlord as a group.
Seek out companies who install solar panels for residential properties and ask for information that you can take to your landlord. Better yet, see if a representative from the solar company would be willing to meet with your landlord and present the facts about how solar panels could benefit not only the residents, but him as the owner of the building as well. It could be that he or she could decide that converting to solar would be energy efficient for everyone involved.
Ask your landlord to look into VNM or Virtual Net Metering, which is a way to allocate the cost benefits of using solar panels on the apartment building to every resident. The installation cost of this type of system would cost less for the owner rather than installing meters in each individual apartment.
If you are passionate about this and have the extra time and energy, you can even offer to help install the solar panels on your building!
You can invest in a portable solar power system to run your small appliances. All you need is a window, patio, balcony or deck that will allow for enough sunlight during the day to charge up the batteries to run your small appliances.
Look for flexible solar panels that can hang outside a window or from a railing. That way, if you have access to enough sunlight you can can even run a laptop or TV. Most portable units will supply a couple of hours worth of energy.
Don't let renting an apartment or renting your home stop you from becoming more environmentally friendly. Even if you can only use a small portable system to run one small appliance, at least you're doing your part to conserve energy help our beautiful planet to be more healthy!
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