You may contact your utility to see if they offer discounted or free energy audits. That’s a possible first step. Your utility may also recommend you to contact a local organization or a contractor able to carry out the energy audit.
Low-income homeowners may benefit from free audits.
In the USA, some utility companies and the Weatherization and Intergovernmental program (USA) provide free energy audits to low-income consumers; and there are programs offering financial rebates to homeowners in general (an example: the Ontario Home Energy Audit Program).
Energy Star, Resnet and Energy Tune-Up
In the USA you may find a qualified energy auditor through the Energy Star program. See: Energy Star for Homes Partner Locator. They can also help you find trained contractors through their Home Performance with Energy Star program.
Home Energy Tune-uP is yet another good option, in the North America. You may contact them to inspect your home and bring forth a computerized report, listing the savings and the costs of the several energy upgrades, and information involving contractors and financing.
What do energy auditors do?
Energy auditors use special equipment to detect duct leaks (duct blowers), air leaks in the home's shell (blower test doors) and low levels of insulation in the walls, or in the attic and floors (infrared scanners and laser thermometers).
They will also undertake a comprehensive assessment of your several energy equipment systems: your heating and cooling systems, your hot water heating system, your windows and doors, your refrigerator, dishwasher and other appliances and electronics...
They will also perform combustion safety testing of your gas, propane or oil system.
And they will provide a written report with recommended home energy improvements and their estimated costs. The report should be the key element of your home energy projects.
A good report may extend their recommendations to issues like energy improvements to get passive solar gains (in cold and moderate climates) or on how to get and use shade and cooling breezes; or recommendations on the design and landscape of the house… See on these issues: Landscaping for energy efficient homes, Trees and Hedges for Wind Protection, German Style Super-insulated Passive Houses.
Types and prices of professional energy Improvement audits
Prices depend on the type and length of the energy audit. Simple walk-through audits are inexpensive, but more sophisticated audits, using specific tools and computerized data analysis, will cost a little more.
Expect prices in the range of about $200 to $400 for a 1,800 square foot single-family homes or smaller…
Some professional auditors are contractors that can fix many of the problems and make the energy improvements themselves. Be aware anyway: ensure yourself that the contractor is qualified and experienced.
To conduct their surveys, the auditor will need basic information on your home and on your schedules and patterns of energy usage. Have your home's energy bills at hand (last 12 months), and pass that information to the auditor; that will help him to determine what to look for during the audit.
Some basic features involving your home can also be useful to the auditor: its size, wall area, size of windows and doors, their number, number of people, schedules, thermostat settings, habits concerning baths, laundry, etc.
Make also a list of energy-related problems: uncomfortable rooms, condensation problems, or others.
Audits for new homes
If you intend to build a new home, energy auditors can visit the site and provide advise on design, building materials, landscaping, sun exposure, etc. That can save you dozens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your house.
Just make sure that the energy auditor has a broad view on low-energy construction and energy improvement techniques, and inform yourself on issues like Energy Star homes (or the European program, or the Australian program for new energy efficient homes), or on the super-insulated/passive house concept (German Style Super-insulated Passive Houses).
Similarly, if you are going to buy a new home or a previously owned home - homes that are not rated by government agencies, or with dubious energy certification - you should require an energy audit. That's the best way of safeguarding your interests during negotiations with sellers and home realtors (in the USA, the best known energy audits are the HERS; see: Resnet network).