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Weatherization Program: Getting the most bang for your buck – Mobile Homes

As we mentioned in the prior article – many of the southern states endured some of the coldest weather, we have seen in some 20 odd years and with it some of the highest utility bills. While it is a little too late now to lower January’s bill, one call still take care of the issues now which will help you not only through the rest of winter, but for many years to come.  The nice thing is, not only can some of these items help lower your utility bills, make you feel more comfortable, but you can probably get a tax credit on your 2010 taxes.

The first thing to keep in mind is that no two houses are ever the same. What your neighbor had done may not be the best option in your case. Another item to keep in mind is that different climates require different measures. What is considered best practices here in Alabama, would not work to well in Maine and vice versa. One other often overlooked fact is that there are three different climate zones in Alabama, each with it’s own requirments. With that being said, the DOE has created two priority lists for families in the southern climates to help reduce their utility usage and weatherize there home.

The first priority list is for one of the biggest energy hogs out there – the mobile home aka trailer. Even though many of the newer ones have been built to meet more stringent guidelines, they will generally still have a higher utility costs as compared to a traditional house of the same size. Even if all the 1.6 million units produced in the last ten years (Census department 1999 -2008), met the same standards as a traditional house you would have to balance that against how many units are out there. According to the latest Census bureau numbers, there are approximately 8,630,000 mobile homes out there, which leaves almost 7 million mobile homes that are older than 10 years.

#1 – Replace Incandescent light bulbs with Compact Florescent Lights (CFL’s); not only will this save you money on your regular electric bill, a CFL does not produce as much heat as a regular light bulb. Article – Money saving projects, tips & tricks — Part 2

#2 – Replace the Refrigerator; not only did we discuss this in the same article mentioned above, we would recommend this for almost all the appliances in your mobile home with ENERGY STAR® appliances. Most mobile homes that are sold use the cheapest appliances around. Designing and building energy efficient appliances costs more money, which is not the name of the game when it comes to mobile homes.

#3 – Seal the HVAC ducts; in most mobile homes if you take off the register, you will see gaps around the duct & the flooring. This issue can easily be solved with what is referred to as a duct boot. By properly installing these and sealing them with mastic, you would not only increase the efficiency of your heating unit, but also eliminate a huge hole that allows outside air in along with mice.

#4 – Fill the roof cavity with loose fill fiberglass insulation; ok, I will state that this is not always the best or safest idea. First, many of these older trailers have suffered some water damage & the additional weight and pressure used to fill the cavity can pop the ceiling. If an owner has installed any recessed lights that are not rated for insulation around them, one could easily start a fire. If money is an issue, I would probably recommend that your trailer be cool sealed professionally. This would equate to a base coat of cool sealing being applied, a fiberglass mat embedded in it, followed up by at least one finish coat.

#5 – Seal remaining leaks in Ceiling, Walls, & Floors; One area of major concern in mobile homes is where the plumbing lines come inside the house as these are not only generally quite large, but also where the mice like to come in to get out of the weather.

#6 – Patch any holes in the belly & fill with loose fill insulation; this is important on mobile homes to not only protect the water lines from freezing but to help with the efficiency of your HVAC system. This is also a popular nsting area, so sealing it properly will help prevent some unwelcome visitors.

#7 – Clean or replace room air conditioners; I will also part with them on this, unless you do not have an HVAC system, those should be removed. If you have no other option, those should be serviced at least once a year when they are installed & taken down for the winter months. For those with an HVAC system, this should be services at least once a year, if not twice (before the cooling season & before the heating season). As a quick side note, if you do have an HVAC system, you should consider installing a programmable thermostat.

#8 – Install Solar Screens on the East, West & South windows; this is actually a very good way to reduce radiant heat gain during the summer. If you are surrounded by trees or the windows are shaded via a porch, etc…, this would probably be a waste.  While they do not mention it, these should only be left up during the summer months and replaced with storm windows during the winter months.

In the next few articles we will review the priority list for traditional houses, delve into how one can air seal their house and look at insulating options when it comes to your home.

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