Here’s Why SolarCity Will Give Up to $1,000 in Cash to Airbnb Customers

A SolarCity Installation
A SolarCity Corp. employee installs a solar panel on the roof of a home in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, Calif.
Photo by Bloomberg—Getty Images

Home-sharing company Airbnb and SolarCity are partnering to offer some incentives to folks who set up solar panels.

On Tuesday, the companies announced a new deal through which Airbnb hosts who sign up to install panels through SolarCity are eligible to receive up to $1,000 in cash back. Additionally, new and current SolarCity customers who sign up to be Airbnb hosts will get $100 in travel credits through the home-sharing company.

The new partnership falls in line with Airbnb’s claims that home-sharing is more environmentally-friendly than traditional hotels. According to a report the company compiled with Cleantech Group, Airbnb estimates that over the last year its guests have reduced water consumption by 4.2 billion liters (1,700 Olympic size pools), waste by 37,000 metric tons, energy consumption equivalent to the amount used by 280,000 homes, and greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to keeping 560,000 cars off the road.

“We know specifically that our guests are looking for this when traveling,” said Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy, during a press conference call on Tuesday of solar panels. But the company doesn’t have data on how many of its current hosts already have them installed.

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The companies also touted the popularity of clean energy and sustainable programs among “millennials,” a group of consumers Airbnb actively targets. In August, the home-sharing company released the results of a survey that showed it’s a popular service among these young adults.

The focus on Airbnb customers’ homes is also notable given the fine line the company has walked when it comes to commercial activity on its marketplace. While the company continues to counter accusations that it’s enabling commercial operators and illegal hotels, arguing that it’s simply helping regular people make some extra cash by hosting travelers, this partnership encourages homeowners especially to invest in their homes.

With that said, $1,000 in cash back may or may not be all that much in the grand scheme of things. Installing solar panels on a home costs upwards of $20,000 to $40,000, so $1,000 only makes a small dent. However, SolarCity and other companies offer options for paying nothing upfront and paying off the cost of the panels on a monthly basis for several years. In this case, a $1,000 check in the mail within four to six weeks after solar panels are installed is a pretty nice perk.

The offer is available until the end of March 2017, after which the cash back from SolarCity will drop to $750 through the end of 2017. Aside from the expiration date, there is no limit on the number of Airbnb customers who can receive this promotion, according to the companies. Each one will finance its respective part of the incentive.

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