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McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes
How can I make my mobile home more energy efficient?
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
The energy efficiency standards that HUD requires manufactured homes to meet have been ratcheted up several times over the years, but are still less than those for site-built homes. An analysis by the DOE (U.S. Department of Energy) in 2010 determined that the average mobile home owner spends approximately 50% more for energy per year than a comparable site-built home ($1.76 vs. $1.17 per sq. ft.).
Pre-1976 mobile homes (before the HUD-code went into effect) are the most inefficient and here’s the improvements that the DOE recommends for them:
- Install energy-efficient windows and doors. Look for one with an Energy Star performance rating.
- Add insulation to the belly.
- Make general repairs, such as caulking around doors and windows and duct sealing.
- Add insulation to the walls.
- Install a belly wrap and seal it around any plumbing and duct penetrations.
- Add insulation to the roof or install a roof cap.
The three energy improvements that are comparatively easy and cost-effective for any mobile home, no matter what the age, are:
- Caulking and weatherstripping windows and doors.
- Air-sealing around plumbing fixtures and ducts.
- Upgrading to energy efficient appliances and lighting.
When the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) did before-and-after tests over a three year period on homes that had energy efficiency retrofit improvements they found a 31% reduction in heating fuel usage. So the improvements do pay off in the long term, with the bonus that your home will also be more comfortable.
And for the manufactured home owner that wants to move up to the cutting edge of energy efficiency, the DOE has the following six suggestions:
- Installing a geothermal heat pump (GHP), which can provide space heating and cooling. GHPs are most cost-effective to install at the same time as the manufactured home. The systems can’t be moved, so GHPs only work for permanently sited manufactured homes.
- Using passive solar design by adding a sunspace, orienting the home to maximize solar exposure, landscaping for energy efficiency, and using shading devices.
- Investigating solar water heating. Although the lightweight construction of some manufactured homes limits roof support for heavy solar collectors, you can use lightweight roof-mounted air collectors for water heating or install the heavier liquid-type solar collectors on the ground. These systems are best suited for manufactured homes that are seldom moved.
- Installing solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) systems, which are light enough to install on the roof of a manufactured home.
- Installing a small wind electric system to generate electricity if your manufactured home is or will be located in a rural area on at least one acre of land.
- Installing a micro-hydropower system to generate electricity if your manufactured home is or will be located where you have access to flowing water. Although you can move a micro-hydropower system, you can't take the hydropower resource with you, which makes these systems best suited for permanently sited manufactured homes.
To learn about the three eras in energy efficiency of mobile homes, and where your home fits in, go to our blog post “How energy efficient is a mobile home?”
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