Published on March 8, 2019

What if cutting your energy usage could help save the planet and put a little more cash in your pocket? With a new project under its innovation lab Space10, IKEA is working to make a solar-powered future more attainable and realistic, and it opens up the possibility for you to make some extra money.

Space10 has released a prototype of a solar power microgrid called SolarVille, Fast Company reported. Essentially, it’s a model (designed by Danish architecture firm SachsNottveit) that shows how a cluster of homes can all be powered by solar panels. If one home in the cluster amasses more energy than it needs—whether through excess panels or lower energy usage—a neighbor can buy extra energy from them. It’s a self-sustaining ecosystem that doesn’t rely on larger energy grids. Consider it a truly direct-to-consumer option for powering your day-to-day electricity needs.

This prototype imagines a system vastly different from how many homes are powered globally. Solar panels can be pricey to install—though IKEA launched affordable options in its UK stores back in 2013—and they haven’t typically been the most accessible option, especially for homes that already exist on a larger energy grid.

SolarVille is a proposal for how towns and cities can operate differently, in a way that would cut mass dependence on nonrenewable resources (which needs to happen to impede the effects of global warming). If that means adding solar panels to your rooftop and getting a little friendly with the neighbors, that’s one small change to make a major, lasting difference to the environment—and it might even sweeten your weekend fund.

See more sustainability tips:
The Most Eco-Friendly Place to Find Furniture Isn’t a Store

How One Person Finds Home Decor Treasures in Another Person’s Trash
A Small-Space Living Expert Puts a Stylish Spin on Sustainability

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