When designing, or deciding between multiple designs, knowledge of how they perform energy- wise can make a difference. Taking a single or multiple plans, I determine what the energy requirements will likely be. Variations can them be easily tried to see how changes in design will affect performance.
Where you build your house on your lot, can make a huge difference in how it performs. I can evaluate possible building sites for solar exposure. This is useful even if your house is not strictly a solar house; any house will benefit from sunlight.
People with something to sell, will tell you that buying from them will save 'the average customer', 10% of their fuel bill. This is often not useful because you don't have an average home. Additionally, many of the things which will most reduce your energy consumption, are not big ticket for which a contractor can charge you thousands of dollars. New windows, for instance, are rarely worthwhile (unless your windows are much lower quality than your house) One of my suggestions for improving the efficeincy of windows costs around $1 per sqaure foot.
Knowing how much energy your house uses is a good first step. Next you need to know where the largest losses are. An energy audit usually takes between 1/2 and a full day. The largest energy losses are the easiest to find, often smaller losses will be hidden by the larger losses.
Infiltration losses: This is warm air which is escaping, and cold air which is sneaking in (in roughly even measure). The primary way of measuring this is with a blower door test.
Conduction losses: Heat leaving though the walls. Basically what R-value measures. The easy way to test this is with inspection. Determining what amount and type of insulation is present. Individual cold spots can be found
Other losses: This includes losses from such things as pipes and ducts, either through leakage or shortage of insulation.
This is a sample report from an audit.
We make Interior Storm Windows for those who don't want to make them for themselves. These windows fit inside your current windows and add about R-2.3 to the insulation value of the window. In addition, they block air leakage and reduce exterior noise. More information, measuring directions, and pricing.
One of the scarcest commodities when building a house is time. So, many questions need to be answered, and there is little time. You may have questions about what materials are the most environmentally friendly, for instance. If you don't have time to find out these things yourself, and your builder or architect doesn't know, you will likely do whatever is easiest. I know I did this a number of times.
So, if you have questions and no time to answer them, I will do your research for you. Note: This service is included in any of the services above, and cheap otherwise.