If you want to save money on mortgage interest charges, now might be the time to take advantage of historically low rates. As of January 5, 2012, Freddie Mac reports that the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is at 3.91% — a match to record lows. It’s even possible to refinance to a 30-year fixed rate for less than 4% right now.

The biggest reason to refinance to a lower mortgage rate is to save money. There are two main ways that a low fixed-rate mortgage can save you:

Lower interest charges: A lower rate means less paid in interest over the life of your loan. Even if you lock in for another 30 years, mortgage rates are so low right now that you could save tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments.

On top of that, a low, fixed-rate mortgage protects you against future interest rate increases. Mortgage rates, along with 10-year Treasury bond yields, are expected to remain low through the first half of 2012, but you never know what could happen after that. If the economy shows signs of recovery, and investors start looking for higher yields, Treasuries will see increased yields — and mortgage rates will likely increase.

So far, we’ve only addressed the advantages of a 30-year fixed rate. However, you can save even more money with a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. According to Freddie Mac, the 15-year fixed rate is 3.23%. That’s a little higher than the record low, but it’s still very good.

In the past, those wishing to refinance to a 15-year mortgage accepted a higher monthly payment in order to save more money in the long run. Now, with mortgage rates so much lower, it is possible to increase your monthly payment by a smaller amount, and still reap huge long-term savings.

The Bottom Line

Homebuyers have a great opportunity to lock in low fixed rates on new mortgages in the current environment. However, those looking to refinance — especially from adjustable rate mortgages — might have an even better opportunity to lock in record low mortgage rates that can save them tens of thousands of dollars.