Take energy-efficient action in your manufactured home
Explore suggestions for home improvements you can take to keep warm and save on energy bills.
Mobile homes present special challenges when seeking to increase warmth and decrease energy costs during the winter.
If a mobile home has an Energy Star label, it has been built to be 30 percent more energy efficient than the 1993 Model Energy Code. In this case, consumers will see energy savings by making changes in the way they use energy. If a mobile home does not have an Energy Star label and is older, consumers will save major energy by hiring a certified company to do an energy audit and then make necessary improvements.
According to the Montana State University Extension “Energy Management for the Home” series, research has shown that the most effective conservation measures for mobile homes are sealing air leaks and furnace ducts, tuning-up the furnace, blowing insulation into the home’s underside or belly, installing interior storm windows and blowing insulation into the roof.
Because mobile homes are built from the inside out and models vary a great deal, major energy savings can only be achieved by hiring a weatherization professional who uses a blower-door test to find hidden leaks. An additional benefit of a professional energy audit is that combustion appliances such as furnaces, stoves and water heaters are tested for safety which should be an important consideration for any homeowner.
Energy companies may offer rebates to reduce the cost of energy audits and subsequent work and free weatherization assistance may be available for people with low-income through a local Community Action Agency.
If there is no way to hire professional help, consumers can address major leaks themselves in the following ways:
- Plug all holes around chimneys, vents, water pipes and heating system ductwork with insulation.
- Plug hidden air passageways in closets and cabinets with insulation.
- Keep the bottom board (also known as the “belly board”) underneath the home in good shape. Repair or replace when necessary. Keep the skirting in good repair to prevent animals from entering the home from below.
- Install plastic storm window kits.
Mobile home residents can follow standard advice from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and save energy by making smart choices such as:
- Keep drapes and blinds open during the day to benefit from the sun’s warmth. Close drapes and blinds at night.
- Keep the thermostat at 68° F while at home during the day and at 65° F while away from the home during the day and at night.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
- Change furnace filters monthly or every three months at the very least.
- Purchase Energy Star appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves and hot water heaters when replacements are needed.
- Replace electronics such as televisions and computers with Energy Star models. Take into account on-going energy costs as well as the purchase price before buying second or third televisions and computers. Are additional electronics affordable?
- Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use to avoid “phantom” energy loss.
Mobile homes can be lovely, affordable places to live. Many things can be done to increase the energy efficiency of mobile homes which will then decrease energy costs and increase comfort.