There is a renewed interest in ORC (organic Rankine cycle) systems for power generation using solar thermal energy. Many authors have studied the performance of ORC with different pure fluids as well as binary zeotropic mixtures in order to improve the thermal efficiency. It has not been well appreciated that zeotropic mixtures can also be used to reduce the size and cost of an ORC system. The main objective of this paper is to present mixtures that help reduce the cost while maintaining high thermal efficiency. The proposed method also allows us to design an optimum mixture for a given expander. This new approach is particularly beneficial for designing mixtures for small ORC systems operating with solar thermal energy. A number of examples are presented to demonstrate this concept. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.