Are there cost effective solar power solutions available yet for rented apartments?
February 27, 2010 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Are there cost effective solar power solutions available yet for rented apartments - which did NOT come with the place? I.e., I can't really permanently mod this place, but the amount of sunlight that beats on this apt all day for most of the year, here in Austin, is crazy.

Sure, I know there are solar screens (which I don't think my complex will pay for, stupidly, despite having just replaced all their bulbs with energy-efficient ones). I could hang tinfoil in the windows (yech. Until they tell me to take it down).

The only solution for cooling this place down I found last year was cranking the a/c pretty much most of the time. And yes, there's always moving, but right now I can't afford to move, and despite the higher electricity bill I have here, it's still cheaper over the course of a year for sure, electric-bill wise, on this top floor 700 sq ft place I have, over the 1st floor 900 sq ft place I had 2 years ago, which had a similar problem but I think due to the square footage and crappy metering, always smacked me down with the electric cost.

I've seen online kits you can buy n stuff, but nothing readily available that would be unobtrusive and pay for itself in a reasonable period of time. Seems like we have to be getting near the point of such things existing, no?

Thanks mefiters!
posted by bitterkitten to Technology (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In the short term, any solar power solution will cost you more than it saves you. At current prices it would take decades to pay for itself.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:15 PM on February 27, 2010

Howdy. I'm in the electric biz in our fair state, and I'm not aware of anything like this. However, you may want to make your landlord aware of the Austin Energy multi-family property energy efficiency program.
posted by Pants! at 3:20 PM on February 27, 2010

Cost effective and solar energy don't go together give the current state of technology.

That is why solar power is currently subsidized.
posted by dfriedman at 3:24 PM on February 27, 2010

Even if you were to buy a couple of really large 280W-300W size monocrystalline silicon solar panels and successfully install them on your rented apartment's balcony, using some kind of non-permanent mounting so you could move them someday in the future, they would not be enough power to run even one small air conditioner.
posted by thewalrus at 3:41 PM on February 27, 2010

In terms of shading, this is an obvious point (though many architects still seem to somehow forget it), but whatever screen/blind/shading device you choose to employ, it should be outside of the glass to be the most effective.

If you have a balcony, you could probably use a fabric blind of some description, which your complex will probably find inoffensive. And depending on how much space you have, you could even grow some plants that could provide some shade (it doesn't have to block the entire window/glass door -- just keeping the sun from heating up a patch of your floor can actually make a difference, though admittedly not nearly as much as a good awning) and even food!
posted by carnival of animals at 3:41 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


But some electric utilities will allow you to specifically sign up for power from "green" suppliers. Of course, electricity is fungible, but this directs your money to more eco-friendly providers.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:06 PM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: yeah I've been signed up for green power for a couple years. Thanks tho.
posted by bitterkitten at 12:32 AM on February 28, 2010

Ask your landlord to coat the roof with reflective paint. With a little research, you could even give him some hard numbers on the energy savings.

What kind of building is it? What kind of windows? Do you have a balcony?
posted by hydrophonic at 7:55 AM on February 28, 2010

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