If you do not have much cash available, there is good news: There are improvements you can make without a professional and without paying a lot up front.
The Community Energy Project, a Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit, helps local residents of all economic backgrounds make home upgrades that can help them save both energy and money.
While the organization can match homeowners with the right contractors and lenders, it also provides educational services to help individuals make these improvements on their own.
Among the more popular upgrades for do-it-yourselfers: putting in new insulation, according to Peter Kernan, program director at the Community Energy Project.
Because heat flows like liquid, holes in insulation can result in huge losses, Kernan said.
More from Impact Investing:
Trump order brings scrutiny to environmental 401(k) investments
Can you save money and the planet by owning a Tesla or other electric car?
This app helps you invest responsibly
By thinking of a home as a six-sided box — including the attic, walls and underneath the floor — homeowners can plug those gaps and stem those losses, he said.
“Adding insulation is the biggest thing that will make an impact on your home,” Kernan said.
Of course, before taking on those renovations, homeowners need to make sure there are no health or safety concerns, such as asbestos or old wiring.
For each wall surface, insulation can run from $2,000 to $4,000, Kernan said. If you are buying enough insulation, you can sometimes rent the blowing machine needed to install it for free, depending on the store, he said.
By adding new insulation and putting in high-efficiency heating systems, individuals can help bring a home’s total utility costs down from $2,000 per year, on average, to $1,000, according to Kernan.