You may not be in a position to design and build a new green home with cutting-edge design, techniques, and products. Most people aren’t. But it's definitely a good idea to invest in your existing home to make it more energy efficient, healthy, and green. That’s what I’m doing with my old place built in 1958. Probably the first place to start is with a home energy assessment or energy audit, explained in this video.

According to the Department of Energy, some energy efficiency upgrades can lead to energy savings of something in the range of 5-30% per year. That’s not an insignificant amount.

Depending on a few things, you can do your own energy audit or hire a professional. If you’re not familiar with what you have or how your home works, it may be best to get some professional help.

When looking for an energy auditor, the Department of Energy recommends checking references and the Better Business Bureau. The Department also recommends verifying that the auditor uses a calibrated blower door and performs a thermographic inspection (which requires infrared equipment to detect thermal defects and envelope air leakage).

The energy auditor will be able to tell you where to make upgrades in order to improve the energy performance of your home.  If you’re unfamiliar with energy efficiency upgrades, this conservation pyramid is a good place to start.

With the availability of myriad financial incentives, you’ve probably seen advertisements for window replacements or renewable energy systems. These may be good investments, but every home is different.  A reliable energy auditor can help you determine whether these investments are economically or environmentally attractive. 

For more, read this article on how to weatherize your home.