The cost of energy keeps rising year after year. Electricity rates have increased over 20% in the last 5 years alone. This trend is likely to continue as energy demand increases while fossil fuels diminish.

Installing solar panels on your home can help you take control of your energy costs. But the upfront cost of buying and installing solar panels can be steep - often $15,000 to $25,000 for the average home. This makes going solar seem out of reach for many homeowners.

Fortunately, there are some little-known hacks that can help you slash the cost of installing solar panels on your home. In this guide, I'll share how you can save thousands on your solar panel system using one simple trick.

Leverage Federal and Local Incentives

The first hack is taking advantage of federal, state, local, and utility incentives to reduce the cost of going solar.

The most popular incentive is the federal solar tax credit. This credit allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes.

Many states and utilities also offer rebates and other incentives that can save you thousands more. Do your research to find all the incentives available in your area to maximize your savings.

You can use a solar incentive calculator like Google Project Sunroof to estimate the incentives you may qualify for. This tool analyzes your roof and location to provide a customized estimate of long-term costs and savings.

Finance With a Solar Loan

Paying cash upfront for a solar panel system just isn't feasible for most homeowners. This is where solar loans come in.

Solar loans allow you to finance your system over time, spreading out the cost. This can help you go solar for $0 down and pay less per month than you pay for electricity.

The key is finding the right loan for your situation. I recommend getting quotes from multiple national solar lenders like Mosaic and Sunlight Financial. Compare interest rates, fees, and terms to find the best deal.

Going through a lender rather than your solar company directly can help you save thousands in interest charges. Make sure to check your credit first, as this will impact loan rates.

Go With a Lease or PPA

If you don’t want to take out a loan, solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) offer two more great options.

With a solar lease, you rent a solar energy system installed on your home. You pay a fixed monthly rate that’s often lower than your current utility bill.

A PPA allows you to purchase solar electricity without buying panels. Instead, you sign a contract to pay a solar company for the system's electric output for 10-25 years.

Leases and PPAs can help you switch to solar for little to no upfront costs. Just keep in mind you won’t own the system or get tax credits with these options.

Use a Community Solar Program

If your roof isn't suitable for solar panels, community solar gives you another option. With community solar, you subscribe to a portion of a shared solar farm and get credits on your electricity bill.

Joining a community solar program costs $0 upfront in most cases. You can start saving on your energy bills right away while supporting local solar energy. Just make sure to compare community solar providers thoroughly.

Shop Around and Negotiate

Here's one of the most important yet overlooked tips for slashing the cost of solar panels: shop around and negotiate!

Getting quotes from at least 3 local solar companies can help you find the best deal. Never go with the first provider you talk to.

And don’t be afraid to negotiate with solar providers on hardware pricing and the installer fee. See if they can throw in additional panels or a home battery for free. The solar market is very competitive, so use that to your advantage!


The bottom line is that going solar has never been more affordable thanks to incentives, financing options, and competition among solar companies. Taking advantage of these hacks can help you unlock thousands in savings on the cost of installing solar.

The fastest way to start slashing your energy costs with solar is to use a tool like EnergySage to compare quotes from multiple prescreened installers. Be sure to apply for all available incentives and financing options. Then negotiate for the absolute best deal.

Going solar is one of the best long-term investments you can make in your home and financial future. By following these insider hacks, you can finally make the switch to solar energy and take control of your energy costs for good.