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energy wise ■


BY JOHN DRAKE COOPERATIVE ENERGY ADVISOR


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anufactured homes— what most of us call mobile homes—often log higher energy bills than traditional wood-frame or modular homes. A large numberof Choctaw Electric members live in mobile homes, so helping our members make them as efficient and comfortable as possible is important to us.


Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic bullet to lower the energy consumption of a mobile home. It takes time to troubleshoot problems. To help you get started, I’m listing a few of the most common culprits:


Belly board problems. In most mobile homes, the belly board holds the insulation in place under the floor and serves as a vapor barrier. Over time, the belly board can get damaged. This allows the floor insulation to hold moisture or to simply fall out, exposing ductwork and dramatically increasing energy losses. Often there’s also long-term water damage from leaky pipes, toilets and showers that has compromised the floor, insulation and belly board integrity. Replacing the belly board and repairing leaky plumbing should be the first things on your to do list.


Air leakage/infiltration. Small holes and gaps can be a problem in mobile homes. Specific problems include gaps in the “marriage wall” that joins multiple units making up the home; holes in the ends of ducts; gaps around wall registers and behind washers and dryers; and unsealed backing to the electrical panel. Fixing these leaks is a dirty job and will require you to crawl under the home looking for gaps. Gaps can be filled with weather stripping and insulation.


Crossover ducts. Sealing the ducts that run under the sections making up your mobile home will result in big energy savings and increased comfort. Crossover ducts are often made of flexible tubing that’s prone to collapse and is easy for animals to chew on. Crossover ducts made of thin sheet metal can leak heated or cooled air, which is what happens when ductwork connections are made


MANUFACTURED SAVINGS


How to boost the efficiency of your mobile home


with duct tape. Repairs are generally easy, using either special duct sealant or metal tape that can be found at most home improvement stores. If you can afford the upgrade, consider replacing a flexible crossover duct with metal ductwork.


Lack of insulation. Insulation levels in walls, floors and ceilings in mobile homes are often inadequate. If it’s easy to access, add extra insulation to ceiling and floors. Adding insulation to walls could be a problem unless you’re ready to do major renovating.


Uninsulated ductwork. Wrapping your ductwork with insulation is another energy saver. Look for insulation specifically made for ductwork at your local hardware store.


Single-glazed windows and uninsulated doors. Most manufactured homes come with single-glazed windows and uninsulated doors, which have a low R-value. That means the rate of heat transfer between the inside of your home and the outdoors is higher than it should be. Replacing the windows with double- or triple-glazed windows or adding storm windows will help make your home more comfortable. An insulated door will also help. These solutions can be very expensive, though. At a minimum, you should add weather stripping to doors and windows. A window film kit is another cheap and easy-to-install upgrade that will help to keep winter winds out of your home.


Heat absorbing roof. Save on summer AC costs by installing a white roof or cool roof coating. They reflect more sunlight to keep mobile homes cooler. Many cool roof coatings can be brushed or rolled on like paint and are easy to apply on metal roofs. The cost of roof coatings varies depending on how reflective they are, and how long they will last. Be sure to choose one that’s appropriate for our climate.


Remember that CEC offers loans that cover the cost of many of the materials and upgrades listed here, including weather stripping, caulking, storm windows and doors, insulation and more. Even basic repairs can result in significant savings. The key is to get out there and start hunting for the savings lurking under, over and inside your mobile home.


For questions about your home’s energy usage or to schedule a free home energy audit, please contact John Drake at 800-780-6486, ext. 233.


ENERGY EFFICIENCY Tip of the Month


To save energy this month, try lowering your water heating costs. Water heating accounts for 14 to 25 percent of the energy you consume. Turn the water heater’s temperature to the warm setting, which is around 120°F. This will save energy – and help you save on your monthly bill.


Source: Department of Energy


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