Performing an energy survey in your home before you install solar energy components is a great way to decide where to invest your money so that it can bring the biggest benefits in the fastest amount of time.
The first step is to collect all of the information that you can concerning your past energy usage. You want to take a look at energy bills, repairs, and everything else that is energy related. Also, record any other types of fuel you might use such as wood or pellets.
Take several years worth of this data and calculate a monthly average for the course of the entire year, over the same months. This way you can come up with an average for each month, spanning several years. Then look at how your energy is being used. For example, it is possible that 5-30% of your heating and cooling bill can be eliminated simply by plugging leaks around your home. This would certainly show up in the data analysis.
In many instances you may also have the option to get a professional audit of your energy usage completed by your power company. Some companies will come to your house and look at your energy usage in detail. However, most houses do not require a professional inspection in order to discover the largest problems. Most homeowners can find these by themselves once they know where to look. Coincidentally, it is these larger, easier to find problems that will save the most money when you fix them.
There are also third party inspectors who will come and inspect your home, but be certain that you use a reputable company in this instance. Be certain to ask them to prove their claims about saving you money by giving you guarantees or providing you with references. Also, make sure that you compile the last two or three years worth of utility bills for them to review during their inspection.