7 surprising perks of VA loans

There's extra money for improvements

Adding an Energy Efficient Mortgage to a purchase or refinancing provides up to $6,000 for qualified improvements.

This work can include new windows and doors, programmable thermostats, additional insulation, heat pumps, and solar heating and cooling systems.

The idea is to make the home more comfortable and reduce future utility bills. These loans are most often used when buying or refinancing an older home that needs some serious renovations.

The first step is to have an expert assess the home and generate a score using the Home Energy Rating System index. The HERS report will include specific recommendations for improvements and their projected monthly savings. That way, you know you're getting the biggest bang for your buck.

The money is usually placed in an escrow account, so that it's available to do the work after closing. It's repaid by rolling the balance into the primary VA loan.