If you own a house, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will pay you to help fight climate change with a long list of incentives for emission-reducing tools like solar panels and heat pumps. But even if you rent, some of the incentives still apply.
If your apartment uses gas heat and an inefficient window air conditioner, you could buy a heat pump, such as Gradient’s sleek design that doesn’t block your view as it works. Low-income households are eligible for rebates that can fully cover the cost; moderate-income households can get up to half of the cost off in an upfront discount.
Part of the new law offers discounts on fossil-free appliances like dryers and stoves; renters can use these incentives if they choose to buy their own equipment. “I’m actually about to do this with my landlord right now,” says Sam Calisch, who leads special projects at Rewiring America, a nonprofit focused on electrifying buildings. When he was apartment hunting, Calisch says he asked prospective landlords if they were interested in cutting emissions. His landlord was willing to replace an old gas stove with electric, but as someone who likes to cook, Calisch wanted an induction stove. He’s decided to buy one himself, and will take it with him when he moves. (Because he wants to decarbonize his apartment now, he’s buying a stove before the incentives are available, and paying for it all himself.)
Renters can also nudge their landlords to take advantage of applicable incentives. In an apartment building where at least half of the tenants make a low or moderate income, property owners are eligible for rebates for heat pump HVAC systems, electric stoves, heat pump water heaters and clothes dryers, and on upgrades to circuit panels, insulation, wiring, and ventilation. Buildings with at least four units are also eligible for a tax deduction on upgrades that make the apartments more efficient.
Though tenants don’t own a roof on which to install solar panels, if you live in an area with a community solar project that allows people to invest in solar panels in a nearby field (as opposed to paying for a subscription), you may be able to get a tax credit through section 25D of the tax code. The IRA also increases a tax credit for organizations running community solar projects.
While many of the incentives are for products installed at home, the Inflation Reduction Act includes a new tax credit of up to $4,000 for buying a used electric car, and credits of as much as $7,500 for buying qualifying new electric cars. The law also has incentives for businesses to install more EV chargers. That’s important for renters since homeowners can plug in at home, but renters lack such access to charging, which may discourage them from even considering buying an electric vehicle. The infrastructure law passed in 2021 also included $7.5 billion in funding for a network of new EV chargers.
Beyond the incentives, renters concerned about climate change should also just make that clear to their landlords, Calisch says. “I think this is an underappreciated source of power that renters have,” he says. While the housing shortage in many cities may limit choices, “they can pick up and move and create market demand for electric housing.”