A new Airbnb initiative lets hosts earn up to $1,000 by installing solar panels on their homes

Airbnb is teaming up with one of the nation’s largest solar panel providers to offer a new incentive for some of its hosts.

The home-sharing startup is partnering with SolarCity to offer cash back for Airbnb hosts that install solar systems in their homes.

Airbnb hosts can earn up to $1,000 in every market where SolarCity operates.

Airbnb is also offering an incentive of its own: SolarCity customers that become hosts will get $100 in Airbnb travel credit.

SolarCity is one of the largest solar energy companies in the US and operates in 20 jurisdictions — which means that while Airbnb operates in more than 34,000 cities worldwide, only a few of its hosts will be eligible for the deal. In June, the electric car manufacturer Tesla announced it intended to buy SolarCity for $2.6 billion, a deal that hasn’t yet been finalised.

SolarCity aims to make solar panels cheaper, using a leasing model to get its solar systems in more homes. In the past, the panels cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 up front, but SolarCity lets homeowners install the panels with no money down and pay for them over time. The more affordable systems — plus the cash bonus — could be valuable for Airbnb hosts passionate about sustainable energy, since hosts don’t exactly make a killing off the app. Airbnb host earnings vary from city to city and neighbourhood to neighbourhood, but in New York City, hosts earned, on average, $5,474 from the service last year.

This new partnership isn’t the first time the solar energy world has tapped into the on-demand economy. A Wall Street Journal story from September mentions that Uber drivers in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, Dallas, and Miami are being enlisted by an online marketplace for solar panels called Geostellar to sell solar panels to their passengers.

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