Mobile homes are a great value and provide many advantages to people looking for an affordable home ownership option. However, they are often expensive to operate when it comes to their cooling and heating bills. According to a study conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), most mobile homes have single pane windows without storms, 4.2 inches of ceiling insulation, 2.8 inches in the wall and 2 inches in the floors. Heating was mostly propane or electricity and thermostats were the normal, non-programmable style.
So, the question for this article to address is what can these home owners do to their homes to reduce their energy bills and increase their comfort? The study by the ORNL identified several measures when implemented that can reduce these costs by up to 25% on average. That is a pretty nice savings indeed. And while it doesn’t address comfort specifically, making any home more energy efficient will improve occupant comfort.
The first on the list was air and duct sealing. Most mobile homes have little duct sealing and the air sealing around windows and doors can be significantly updated. Installation of storm windows will also provide additional savings as will installation of an insulated exterior door or doors. Short of storm windows, use of clear films over windows can improve energy efficiency.
Insulation comes next. Given the construction methods of mobile homes, the walls are generally fully insulated when they leave the factory, providing no room to add more. Perhaps the best place for insulation is underneath the home. Since mobile homes are almost always set above ground with a simple skirt around the bottom, their floors are subject to heavy loss of conditioned air. Beefing up the insulation here can pay big dividends. Ceiling insulation should also be considered when making energy efficiency improvements.
Now that the exterior shell of the home is as tight as possible, thereby keeping conditioned air inside where it belongs, it is time to look at other savings options. In this regard, the homeowner should address their cooling and heating systems. Tune ups are always a good idea. And if they are old enough, replacement with a more efficient unit makes the most sense. In appropriate climates, heat pumps are an excellent choice. Be sure to install a programmable thermostat as part of any tune up or replacement as these can contribute a lot to savings when properly programmed.
Water heaters should be insulated with a jacket, and water pipes anywhere they are exposed should receive insulation. This is especially important under the home to reduce the possibility of freezing. When it is time to replace the water heater, look for the highest efficiency rating possible.
Appliances and lighting represent the only major remaining areas for cost savings. As with the cooling and heating systems, replace appliances with efficient, Energy Star rated models when it is time. And although lighting may not be a huge cost component in mobile homes, they can benefit from LED lighting. The focus for replacement should be on the ones used most often. Eventually, all your lights should be LED.
You can also go with low flow shower heads and bathroom fixtures to reduce hot water use. And where practical, a white roof can reflect heat in hot weather.
Each of these measures on their own will help. All of them will bring you more comfort and lower bills…a wonderful combination.