To answer your question from a slightly different perspective, a new distro will wipe everything on the partition(s) to which it is installed.
If you place /home on a separate partition, you can install new to the root partition without touching your /home partition.
If you don't have a separate /home, you can back up your home directory to external media (ideally a network share on another machine or an external HDD, as they are likely far too big to fit on optical media, though they might fit on some of the new very large USB thumb drives), then copy the files back into place after your new install. This will restore all your files and, if you copied the hidden configuration files, the settings.
Note the settings will only be relevant to the applications that exist on your new install. For example, if you have settings for the Enlightenment desktop, those settings will not be relevant unless and until you install Enlightenment in your new system. If you do install Enlightenment, the old settings will still be there and will take effect.
When you do the new install, you can take that as an opportunity to create a separate partition for /home. Even if you have a separate partition for /home, it's wise to back up /home to external media from time to time, as hard drives do fail.
I have taken to the practice of routinely creating a separate partition for /home, because it makes life a lot more easier (I had used Linux for years before I adopted this practice). Here's what it looks like in /etc/fstab:
/dev/sda5 swap swap defaults 0 0
/dev/sda1 / ext4 defaults 1 1
/dev/sda3 /home ext4 defaults 1 2
(I have omitted other sections of fstab that were not relevant to this post.)