If you own a manufactured home (formerly called mobile homes), you may feel like the only option you have to make it more energy efficient is to replace incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs. In fact, there are many actions you can take that will save energy for years to come.
Following are four areas where you can increase efficiency and comfort. If you are mechanically able, you can perform many of the tasks. If not, contact your nearest professional for assistance.
Make sure the furnace is safe and burns fuel efficiently. Clean your fuel-oil furnace every year; gas-fired furnaces every two to three years. Hire a contractor with a good track record on manufactured homes and check company references.
For the highest energy savings, replace the old unit with a high-efficiency condensing furnace. The extra cost can be offset within the first few years of operation. It is essential to seal all ceiling gaps or cracks above the furnace with caulk and sheetrock (Fig. 1).
2. DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM
Once the furnace is in top order, ensure that the heat and AC can be freely delivered to all rooms without restrictions or duct leakage. Clean or replace the filter to assure good air-flow through the furnace; replace all registers that are flattened; and inspect the AC evaporator coil for dust.
You can achieve major savings by sealing holes and gaps in the ductwork, but first you must find the leaks! Remove the registers and look for gaps at the boot and trunk. Then, use a flashlight and mirror to inspect ducts, if accessible. Use a high quality aluminum or butyl tape to seal gaps once you have cleaned the surfaces (see how-to resources below).
3. UNDER YOUR HOUSE
The road barrier on your home’s underside should be intact to ensure that it is retaining heat. When entering the crawl space, lay down plastic or cardboard. Start under the furnace and water heater, where damage usually starts. Patch any holes on the outer edges using ½-inch foil-faced foam board. Large holes between the I-beams require a “sling-patch” made of 1 x 2 boards and air-barrier material, such as TYVEK® (Fig. 2). Before patching, seal any duct leaks and install insulation where possible, especially under the ductwork, using the widest material available. Do not isolate the water lines from heat, or they may freeze in winter.
4. AIR LEAKS IN SHELL
Large holes can often be found around the tub, furnace, under sinks, and behind cove molding in newer homes. Seal these openings with spray foam, caulk, or sheetrock.
Some newer manufactured homes can also be retrofitted to improve energy efficiency and incorporate renewable energy technologies, such as installing a geothermal heat pump (for permanently-sited homes), and solar water heating. Other measures to consider include spray or roll-on roof coating to reflect summer’s heat.
Visit http://energysavings.togetherwesave.com/Manufactured-Housing for a handy graphic that shows a full list of areas where you can make energy-saving improvements.
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