How energy efficient is a mobile home?
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
The statistics are not wonderful: heating and cooling an older, pre-1976 mobile home can cost twice as much as a site-built home of a comparable size and age. Energy efficiency of manufactured homes has improved over the years, but the minimum standards set by HUD 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.)
There are three eras that determine the level of energy efficiency of a mobile home:
1) Before July, 1976 - There were no national standards for mobile home construction. Insulation and weather-sealing of the exterior of the home varied widely, and was often poor.
2) July, 1976, to October, 1994 - The “Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1976,” which created the “HUD Code” as a nationwide standard for manufactured homes went into effect in July, 1976. While standards for weatherization and insulation were nothing to rave about, it was a big improvement. Also, the requirement for review of the design of a manufactured home and factory inspection by independent inspectors meant that the new requirements had to be met.
3) October, 1994, to Present - The “Energy Policy Act of 1992,” which went into effect in October, 1994, required HUD to upgrade its standards, and the minimum R-value of insulation was raised by approximately 50%, along with other energy efficiency improvements. Also, Climate Zone 3, which sets the highest level of insulation and was formerly limited to only Alaska, was expanded to include most of the Northern United States.
At some point soon, the DOE will issue new energy standards for manufactured homes, which was mandated by Congress several years ago. The final comments and reviews appear to be winding down now. In the meantime, there are EnergyStar certified mobile homes offered by some manufacturers that give you not just more energy-efficient insulation, windows, and duct-sealing, but also high efficiency water heaters and heating/cooling equipment.
In the meantime, if you want to know what you can do right now to have a more energy-efficient manufactured home, go to our blog post “How can I make my mobile home more energy efficient?”
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