The Road to Energy Efficiency: How Far Have Manufactured Homes Come?

moving camp trailerIn the past, manufactured homes (also known as mobile homes) were not the top picks of searching homebuyers. Owning a mobile home meant paying higher gas and electric bills. For an aspiring homeowner on a tight budget, it just wasn’t an option.

Changes in technology and energy codes, however, have paved the way for energy-efficient manufactured homes.

Before: The Past of Mobile Homes

Mobile homes used to be an easy and quick way to enter the world of homeownership. These little houses had their appeal: small and quaint, it was the perfect home for newlyweds and small families. Unfortunately, they were not energy efficient. Units ran behind traditional, site-built homes in terms of noise reduction and energy efficiency. Homeowners ended up paying more for their energy bills.

In 1976, National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 went into law. The act ordered homebuilders to follow stricter building standards and refer to any mobile home constructed after the act as “manufactured homes.”

The want for better and more energy-efficient mobile homes also gave birth to a significant code in the field of home building: Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, otherwise known as the HUD Code.

A Code for Better Energy Efficiency

The HUD Code regulates home design and construction, as well as other factors, such as durability, fire resistance, and energy efficiency. It also sets the performance standards for the plumbing, thermal, electrical, and heating and cooling systems.

light bulb on electric billThe Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) revised the code in the early 1990s to improve ventilation and energy efficiency standards. The new version of the code also improved wind-resistance standards for hurricane-prone areas.

The American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) reported on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2016 recommendations for the HUD Code. The newer version encourages upgrading, adapting, and changing energy efficiency standards that build comfortable and affordable homes.

  • The changes in the HUD code include the following:
  • Increased insulation and caulking around ductwork, lighting, and electrical outlets
  • Higher levels of insulation added underneath each mobile home
  • Installation of belly wraps and insulated skirting
  • Installation of modern and energy efficient doors and windows
  • Addition of energy-efficient water heaters

According to the DOE, manufactured homes will save 27 percent more energy compared to typical site-built homes. Homeowners benefit from an average lifetime savings of almost $4,000.

After: Built-In Energy Efficiency

Today’s manufactured homes are on the same level as traditional homes, in terms of quality and energy efficiency. Compared to standard site-built homes, manufactured homes utilize less energy, which results in lower utility bills. These houses also promote better temperature consistency between rooms.

Apart from energy efficiency, modern mobile homes boast of stylish interiors that include upgraded features such as stainless steel, granite, garden tubs, and laminate wood flooring.

With its improved energy efficiency, manufactured homes are now one of the best options for the budget-conscious homebuyer.