Are Manufactured Homes Energy Efficient?

Home with different colored outlines to represent energy efficiency with green target in the middle being the highest degree of energy efficiency.

Manufactured homes have undergone changes that make them more energy efficient; and more changes are to come.

In times past, having a manufactured home would mean just as high or higher electric and gas bills as regular homes; it seemed like manufactured home builders were having a hard time making sure their homes were well-insulated and energy efficient.

But with changes in technology and manufacturing processes, the energy-efficiency of manufactured homes has changed. Are manufactured homes today energy efficient? The short answer is yes; below we explain how.

The Way We Were

Manufactured housing of the past was a quick, easy way to enter into the world of homeownership. That didn’t mean it was energy-efficient. Think back to the early 1970s, when the manufactured home industry was running behind traditional, site-built homes in energy efficiency and noise reduction.

Nevertheless, manufactured homes retained their appeal, while, at the same time, pushing builders for higher quality, better energy efficiency and more noise reduction.

Changes Were Needed

In 1976, the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 went into law, mandating that mobile homes be built to stricter building standards and that any mobile home constructed thereafter be referred to as manufactured homes.

The HUD Code, as it’s called, regulates “home design and construction, strength and durability, fire resistance, and energy efficiency.” The Code was revised in the early 1990s to increase energy efficiency and ventilation standards, as well as improving wind-resistance standards for areas that are prone to hurricane-force winds. No manufactured home can ship from the factory unless it is in line with the HUD Code and carries a certification label from an independent, third-party inspector.

According to the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), those who owned a manufactured home “spent more money on their energy bills than on home loans” and spent twice as much on energy costs per square foot than those who owned a traditional single-family home.

The ACEEE goes on to explain how the Department of Energy made recommendations in 2016 to enhance the energy efficiency of manufactured homes. The changes are expected to make manufactured homes 27 percent more energy efficient than previous manufactured homes.

So, what kind of changes can make a difference? By adapting, upgrading and changing energy efficient standard, the industry can produce homes that are comfortable and affordable for homeowners. Here are some changes that improve a manufactured home’s energy efficiency:

• Higher levels of insulation added underneath each unit;
• Increased caulking and insulation around ductwork, electrical outlets, lighting and other openings in each unit;
• Increased, higher-quality insulation added to the walls;
• Addition of insulated skirting and a belly wrap;
• Adding modern, on-demand water heaters and
• Replacing older-style windows and doors with more modern, up-to-date, energy-efficient versions.

In general, the amounts and types of insulation were increased, resulting in lower noise levels, higher energy-efficiency and less drain on the heating and cooling units.

Energy Efficiency is Built In

Today’s manufactured homes are now on par with traditional, site-built homes, in terms of quality as well as energy efficiency, making them a good option for homeowners.

There are even Energy Star Certified Manufactured Homes. These homes are:

• Less expensive. Compared to standard, site-built homes, Energy Star-rated manufactured homes use less energy, resulting in lower utility bills;
• More consistently comfortable. Energy Star Certified Manufactured Homes allow for more temperature consistency between rooms, instead of some rooms being draftier than others; and
• Backed by the government. As mentioned, Energy Start Certified Manufactured Homes must meet strict EPA and HUD standards, unlike site-built homes, which are only subject to local government oversight.

When considering a manufactured home for your dream home, as your builder about the plan’s energy-efficient features. These features will ensure that your manufactured home saves you money throughout its lifetime.
Laurie Leiker is a published author, business coach and consumer advocate. She spent 10 years as producer and on-air investigator for the Troubleshooter Tom Martino radio show in Denver, Colo., where she helped consumers get back more than $2 million in one year.

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