Airbnb has announced a new partnership with the SolarCity solar-panel company, giving financial incentive to Airbnb hosts who want to install solar panels on the homes they are renting out. SolarCity will give 1,000 dollars cash back to Airbnb hosts in 19 states who choose to install a solar energy system. The offer will last until March 31st, 2017, at which point it will drop to 750 dollars for the rest of the year.
Furthermore, homeowners who already have solar panels, who decide to become Airbnb hosts, will receive a 100-dollar gift card to use Airbnb themselves. Airbnb is a service that allows people to rent out their houses or apartments to travelers.
One of SolarCity’s solar panel systems can cost as much as 25,000 dollars or more, making the 1000-dollar incentive seem at first insignificant. However, many travelers using Airbnb might be drawn to offers to stay in an environmentally friendly home. Also, SolarCity offers plans for paying these bills monthly over a period of years, with no cost up front. In this scenario, a thousand dollar offer that arrives within four to six weeks of the installation could be a significant incentive.
“Our guests are in fact looking for those types of places to travel to. It’s another version of the sharing economy ― shared energy,” according to Airbnb policy chief Chris Lehane.
The new partnership comes ahead of a November 17th shareholder vote on whether the company will merge with sister company Tesla Motors, an electric car company headed by SolarCity chairman Elon Musk.
Partnerships like this one are increasingly being employed by solar power companies to find new customers. Often, one of the most cost effective ways to accomplish this is by plugging in to the customer base of other businesses. The move could also be advantageous for Airbnb, who are trying to establish themselves as an environmentally friendly firm, often pointing out that a typical home consumes far fewer resources than the average hotel. One study they released showed that home sharing can save billions of liters of water, many tons of waste, and large amounts of energy.
Lehane pointed out in a news conference last week that the service’s millennial travelers, who make up a significant portion of their customer base, use Airbnb for more than just saving money, saying “Global climate change is the challenge of our time. Sustainability is really how [millennials] live their lives.”