Going solar can significantly reduce your energy bills. However, most people don't realize there are clever hacks to make solar panels even more efficient and cost-effective. As a homeowner looking to slash my energy costs, I learned these insider tricks to maximize my solar savings. The big energy companies would prefer I didn't know these secrets, but I'm sharing them here so you too can benefit.

Do a Complete Energy Audit First

Before installing solar panels, I recommend doing a full home energy audit. This involves a professional coming to your home, inspecting areas like insulation, windows, appliances, lighting, and heating/cooling systems. They use diagnostic tools to find any energy leaks or waste. An energy audit pinpoints where you are losing money on inefficient systems. Fixing these issues first will reduce your energy usage, allowing you to get away with installing fewer solar panels. The audit provides a tailored plan to optimize your home's energy efficiency.

I was surprised how much waste the audit discovered for my household. Simple fixes like sealing air leaks, upgrading lightbulbs, and insulating my attic better saved me 15% on energy costs before I even got solar panels. The smaller solar system I needed paid for the audit costs in under 2 years through the extra energy savings.

Add Batteries to Unlock the Full Potential

Adding a battery storage system unlocks the full money-saving potential of solar panels. Without batteries, your solar system doesn't provide power at night when utility rates can be highest. Excess solar energy produced during the day just gets fed back to the grid.

With batteries, you can store solar energy and use it anytime. I can now run my home off solar power in the evening to avoid peak utility rates. My batteries also serve as an emergency backup during outages. This gives me energy independence and security.

I also suggest getting more battery capacity than you think you need. I initially got batteries to cover evening usage but wish I had gotten even more capacity to prepare for electrical vehicle charging in the future. More batteries allow you to store more excess solar energy and maximize your energy independence.

Add South-Facing Panels for Optimal Production

Solar panels produce the most energy when directly facing the sun's rays. In the northern hemisphere, this means facing panels south for maximum energy generation.

Before installation, I worked with my solar provider to model energy production with different panel placements. Facing all panels south boosted production by nearly 20% compared to the original more distributed placement.

Of course, roof and property layout doesn't always make a full south-facing array possible. But try to angle panels more southward, even if you can't achieve the full 180 degree azimuth. Every bit of extra southern exposure will significantly boost solar energy production.

Clean Panels Regularly for Maximum Output

Dirt, dust, bird droppings, pollen and other debris can accumulate on solar panels, blocking sunlight. I was shocked by how much buildup I found when inspecting my panels up close. Panels can lose up to 25% of energy production when excessively soiled.

So I make it part of my monthly maintenance routine to clean the solar panels. Using a simple soap and water solution and microfiber cloth, I gently wipe down the panels to restore them to their shiny clean state. It only takes about an hour each month for a quick cleaning.

You can also invest in automated solar panel cleaning solutions. Some systems use rotating brushes and water jets to keep panels pristine. Professionally cleaning 1-2 times per year can also work well, but doing it yourself monthly is cheapest. Just be sure to safely follow all manufacturer guidelines when cleaning panels.

Angle Panels for Winter Optimization

The sun's angle changes throughout the year with the seasons. In summer, the sun is higher in the sky, while winter has a lower sun angle.

Angling solar panels to account for winter sun angles can boost energy production in colder months when you need it most. I worked with my installer to tilt panels at a steeper angle to optimize for sunlight capture in winter. This squeezes out extra energy during the cloudier winter months.

Tracking mounts that automatically tilt panels throughout the day and year can further maximize production. But they are expensive and high-maintenance. For most homes, optimizing panel tilt for winter sun angles provides a good boost in cold weather production.


With these solar panel hacks, I've been able to dramatically cut my home energy costs. An energy audit, adding batteries, optimizing panel placement, regularly cleaning, and angling for winter sun have helped supercharge my solar savings. The power companies would prefer homeowners didn't know these insider tips. But now that you do, you can start slashing your own energy bills with a solar system optimized for maximum efficiency.