As the president of the National Association of Realtors, Harry G. Elmstrom of Ballston Spa., N.Y., is seeing more of the U.S. than he ever did as a realty broker in the Saratoga Springs area of upstate New York.

And he's also facing national issues that affect all Americans and realty professionals.

"We believe there is an energy crisis and that it deserves attention -- from the choice of the size of a light bulb to the use of solar heating and more effective insulation of all homes," elmstrom said in a recent interview here."We realtors favor voluntary action as we await details of President Carter's program on energy conservation. Meanwhile, we are planning a campaign to alert and assist homeowners in saving energy."

After pointing out that energy conservation may be the nation's top priority goal today, Elmstrom admitted that the voluntary home inspection and insurance program endorsed by NAR has been gotten off to a slow start. "But the pace is now picking up," he added.

He said he is "enthusiastically supporting" this consumer program, which provides insurance for the buyer of a resale house. Coverage can vary somewhat, but basically it includes central heating, internal plumbing, the electric system, structural soundness, the foundation, the roof and central air conditioning.He said the fee usually is about 0.5 per cent of the house price and may be paid by seller, buyer or both.

Five insuring firms whose programs have been endorsed by NAR include Certified Home Inspection Program at Columbia, Md.; Soundhome Assurance Program, Newark, N.J.; Homestead Inspection Warranty Program, Camden, N.J.; St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co., St. Paul, Minn., and First American Home Inspection Program in Kansas City. Some of the insurance programs are being used by realtor firms in this area.

Asked about the increasing tendency of realty brokers, including some affiliated with NAR, to associate with nationally franchised operations that provide services to the member brokers, Elmstrom pointed out that NAR has no policy on franchising, a form of affiliation that now encompasses many thousands of brokers across the U.S.

"Franchising has been around a long time and it has been growing in the past five or eight years," he said. "I hear diverse reports on the effectiveness of national affiliation. I can say that our NAR leaders are planning to meet with executives of some of the big franchising operations. Our members can join or not join as they see fit.