Home improvements that can save you money

A man installs a window inside a house while a woman watches behind him.Image: A man installs a window inside a house while a woman watches behind him.

In a Nutshell

Investing in money-saving home improvements may lower your monthly bills and save you money in the long run. Ideas for energy-efficiency projects range from revamping insulation, windows or landscaping — or even conducting an energy audit.
Editorial Note: Intuit Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our third-party advertisers don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. Information about financial products not offered on Credit Karma is collected independently. Our content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

Investing in money-saving home improvements can help lower your monthly bills and help you save cash in the long run. Plus, some upgrades may boost the value of your home.

These home improvements may increase your energy efficiency, cut water use or improve the performance of your home’s systems, all of which can lower your expenses.

Here are some money-saving home improvements that could cut day-to-day costs and make your home more valuable.

What home improvements can save energy

Electricity is the biggest utility bill most homeowners deal with, making up about a third of total utility costs for the average U.S. homeowner, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because electricity tends to cost more than water, natural gas, phone services or other utilities, it makes sense to focus on improvements that can reduce your electricity burden. 

Energy audit

The first step you might want to consider for any energy-saving home upgrade is an energy audit. A professional assessment will reveal the specific areas of your home that need work, so you’re not paying for upgrades you don’t need.

A professional home energy assessment might cost several hundred dollars. If you do the audit yourself, it might not be as thorough, but you’ll likely find some of the easier areas to address.

Insulation and air sealing

Proper insulation can significantly reduce your heating and cooling costs. You can ensure that your home is well-insulated by checking the attic, walls, floors and crawl spaces — and adding insulation where needed.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that homeowners can save 11% on heating and cooling costs by sealing air leaks and adding insulation.

Solar energy system

If your home gets direct sunlight, solar panels could be a good way to reduce your energy bill — though the initial investment might cost a lot. The average 5-kilowatt-hour home solar system in the U.S. can supply 50% to 75% of most people’s total electricity needs and costs between $15,000 and $35,000, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Although adding a solar power system to your home is a serious investment, tax breaks can help. Under the Inflation Reduction Act, you may qualify for a credit of up to 30% on your federal income taxes for installing solar heating, electricity generation and other solar home products.

To see what state incentives may be available to you, visit www.desireusa.org.

Smart thermostat

A smart thermostat allows you to program your home’s temperature to keep you comfortable while saving money. By allowing you to set different temperatures for various times of the day, you can reduce energy use when you’re not at home or while you’re sleeping.  

Ceiling fans

You can use ceiling fans in combination with your existing heating and cooling systems to provide more effective air circulation and temperature control, reducing the overall energy demand of your HVAC system.

For maximum savings, install energy-efficient ceiling fans that are Energy Star-certified, since those models are up to 40% more efficient than conventional ones, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Energy-efficient windows

Energy-efficient windows can cut energy costs by reducing heat transfer, improving insulation and minimizing drafts. The Department of Energy says that heat gain and loss through windows accounts for 25% to 30% of a homeowner’s heating and cooling energy use, so it’s important to choose the most efficient windows you can afford for your particular climate.

While new energy-efficient windows may not be cheap, they can lower your energy costs (and save you money) over time. To make sure your upgrades make sense, consider doing a cost-benefit analysis. The national average cost to replace all of the windows in a home with vinyl windows was about $20,482, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2022 Cost vs. Value report.

And if your existing windows are in good shape, you can improve them with new caulk, weatherstripping or solar control film, among other cost-effective improvements.

Learn more: Do new windows increase home value?

How can I save on repairs and maintenance?

You may be able to save on home repairs by addressing potential issues before they become major problems. Here are some improvements and strategies to minimize potential issues.


Having functioning gutters is more than an aesthetic benefit when it rains — it can also prevent costly water damage. Rainwater that runs straight off of the roof can pool at the base of your home — leading to potential rot, mildew, a cracked foundation or even collapsed basement walls.

The cost to install a gutter typically ranges between $622 and $1,679 with a national average of $1,138, according to HomeAdvisor.

Security system

In addition to offering peace of mind, a visible home security system can — at the very least — serve as a potential deterrent against theft. Also, your homeowners insurance company may provide a discount on your premium.


Besides beautifying your home, a thoughtfully designed landscape can cut your heating and cooling costs. By planting trees in strategic spots to shade your home, you can save up to $250 a year on energy costs. And planting native species around your yard can help lower your water bill and decrease maintenance — all while helping the environment.

Take a look at potential environmental dangers, too. For example, if you live in a wildfire zone, creating a defensible space around your home may help protect it.

While towering trees can add beauty to your yard, they can also pose a hazard. Hiring an arborist to assess your trees for stability and disease can help protect your house from falling trees and branches.

How can I pay for home improvements?

Before you borrow money for home improvements, carefully consider the costs and benefits.

There are a number of ways to finance potential upgrades. Here are some options to consider:

  • HELOC: A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, allows you to borrow against the equity you’ve built up in your home. A HELOC gives you a revolving line of credit that you can use during a draw period. During that time, you can make interest-only payments or pay down some of the principal balance and re-borrow as needed. HELOC interest rates are usually variable, which means your monthly payments can fluctuate.
  • Home equity loan: A home equity loan, which usually has a fixed rate, is another way to borrow against the equity in your home. The amount you can borrow will depend in part on your home’s value and how much you owe on your mortgage.
  • Personal loan: A personal loan typically doesn’t require collateral. Compared to other options, interest rates may be high — especially if you don’t have strong credit. Some lenders may charge upfront origination fees.

Another cost-saving tip: Last year’s Inflation Reduction Act makes it easier to go green by offering tax credits for a number of eco-friendly home upgrades.

What’s next? Financial resources for home improvements

While there’s an upfront cost for many of these home improvements, the long-term savings can outweigh the initial investment.

You might be able to save on energy-efficient home improvements by looking into potential grants, low-cost loans, rebates or other financial assistance. Here are some resources to check out:

About the author: Lindsay VanSomeren is a freelance writer living in Kirkland, Washington. She has been a professional dogsled racer, a wildlife researcher, and a participant in the National Spelling Bee. She writes for websites such a… Read more.