A reader posed this question a few weeks ago so I thought I would post the response as a topic on its own. Derek Brown, a colleague of mine who is an expert in this area, provided the following response to the reader.
A home energy assessment is a top to bottom assessment of your home, inside and out, conducted by a licensed (through NRCan) Energy Advisor. The advisor will evaluate the insulation levels in your attic, main walls, basement walls and possible basement floor insulation. They will also review your window types and condition, any ventilation systems in the home, make note of water consumption appliances as well as lights and electrical appliances.
A review of your homes mechanical systems is also completed taking note of age and efficiency. Finally an air tightness test is completed (along with an air leakage investigative walk-through with the homeowner) to determine the homes natural ventilation levels and air leakage locations.
During the walk through the Energy Advisor will discuss with the homeowner potential areas of the home where upgrades could be completed that would lead to greater energy efficiency and related energy savings. They will also point out areas of air leakage and methods to address them.
Once the onsite assessment has been completed the Energy Advisor will return to their office to complete a software energy analysis, model potential energy upgrades and develop a written report that is then sent to the homeowner for review and reference.
At the current time there are a limited number of programs available to homeowners to assist them with energy efficiency upgrades. Your best bet is to check with your local Municipality and Utility companies to see if there are any programs offered in your area.
Thanks Derek, this is a great post!