- We study DNA denaturation by integrating elasticity -- as described by the Gaussian network model -- with bond binding energies, distinguishing between different base pair and stacking energies. We use exact calculation, within the model, of the Helmholtz free-energy of any partial denaturation state, which implies that the entropy of all formed ``bubbles" (``loops") is accounted for. Considering base pair bond removal single events, the bond designated for opening is chosen by minimizing the free-energy difference for the process, over all remaining base pair bonds. Despite of its great simplicity, for several known DNA sequences our results are in accord with available theoretical and experimental studies. Moreover, we report free-energy profiles along the denaturation pathway, which allow to detect stable or meta-stable partial denaturation states, composed of bubble, as local free-energy minima separated by barriers. Our approach allows to study very long DNA strands with commonly available computational power, as we demonstrate for a few random sequences in the range 200-800 base-pairs. For the latter we also elucidate the self-averaging property of the system. Implications for the well known breathing dynamics of DNA are elucidated.