6 Home Improvements That Actually Save You Money

Hanna KielarNovember 19, 2019

When people hear the words home improvements, they might see flashing dollar signs, as many home improvement projects cost big bucks. How can the budget-conscious homeowner make updates without breaking their budget?

Some home improvement projects will actually save you money while updating your home. Here are six investments that can help you save money in the long run.

Security System

A home security system is a major deterrent to criminals – 83% look for a security system before attempting a burglary. Home security systems work because they alert you of intruders immediately if someone breaks in, and monitored systems notify the local authorities who will investigate the reason for the alarm.

Considering the average value of items stolen from U.S. residences is $2,251, installing a security system could save you thousands in the long run.

  • Average installation cost: $600 – $1200
  • Average monthly monitoring plan: $30

Why You’ll Love It

Regardless of whether your home is ever burglarized, a security system could still save you annually on your home insurance policy. Many insurance companies discount their premiums for security systems.

Smart Thermostat

If you take the time to install and program your smart thermostat, you can expect immediate energy savings as the thermostat starts “thinking” for you. These smart thermostats “spend time doing the thinking that most people just don’t do,” points out The Wirecutter. Smart thermostats turn off when no one is home, target temperatures to only occupied rooms and can even learn your household schedule for heating and cooling needs.

  • Average cost with installation: $500 – $550
  • Average savings: $131 – $145 per year

Why You’ll Love It

You can access a smart thermostat through an app, giving you control when you’re at home or out on the go.

Whole House Fan

If you live in a warm climate and your house has attic vents, a whole house fan can dramatically cut down your air conditioning bill. These large industrial-sized fans are installed in your attic and work by pulling air in through your windows and out through the attic vents. The fans also provide a cool breeze through your home and can stand in for an AC unit during summer nights.

  • Average cost: $380 – $450
  • Average installation time: 5.3 hours

Why You’ll Love It

Whole house fans can sync with home automation systems, too, giving you even more control over your home.

Smart Lighting

Today’s smart lighting comes in different shapes and forms, from energy-efficient lightbulbs – like light emitting diodes (LEDs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and halogen incandescents – to automated lighting systems.

Motion or occupancy sensors are a great way to avoid leaving the lights on in empty rooms because they turn your lights on and off based on movement. Lights controlled by home automation can also save on your electricity bill by allowing you to remotely control lights, preset lights to turn on and off during certain times of the day, and even analyze lighting usage so you can make more energy-efficient choices.

  • Average cost: $50 – $200 for a starter system
  • Average savings: $75 per year

Why You’ll Love It

Energy-efficient lightbulbs last 3 – 25 times longer than traditional bulbs, and you can do most installations yourself.

Solar Panels

Solar panels continue to improve. The prices of solar panels have become cheaper, their ability to capture the sun’s photons and convert them to electricity is becoming more efficient, and the technology is changing as solar shingles emerge as a more mainstream item, according to Computerworld.

The magazine notes that the time before payoff on solar panels is also getting shorter – the average rooftop solar system will pay back a homeowner in seven and a half years. The sooner you install your solar panels, the sooner you’ll see the average savings on your lowered energy bills.

  • Average cost: $12,500, after tax credit
  • Average lifetime savings: $15,000 – $43,000, but it varies by state

Why You’ll Love Them

Your electric bill goes away, you receive a tax credit and the U.S. Department of Energy’s study found that solar panels add an average of $15,000 dollars to a home’s value.


Water damage is a major home expense – if water leaks into your basement or foundation, it could cost you tens of thousands of dollars to repair. Proper drainage cannot be overlooked. Gutters must be cleaned annually, maintained regularly and routed correctly to prevent water from eroding your home.

  • Average repair cost: $171 – $492
  • Average installation cost: $546 – $1,303

Why You’ll Love Them

Gutter parts are cheap and easy to install, so place this project at the top of your to-do list. Plus, new gutters can improve the appearance of your home.

These home improvement investments will upgrade your home, save you money and increase your home value. Remember, you don’t always have to break your budget to improve your home – and you can get money back while you’re at it.

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    Hanna Kielar

    Hanna Kielar is an Associate Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage focused on personal finance, recruiting and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.