Energy Use in Mobile Homes
A Challenge for Housing, Energy, and Climate Policy
Affordable housing advocates and industry representatives alike have referred to the approximately 2 million mobile homes produced before 1976 and still in use today in all 50 states as the “worst housing stock” in the United States. Most of these homes are found in economically depressed, rural areas and shelter a majority of Americans who are near the poverty level. The highest concentrations of manufactured housing built in 1979 or earlier are found in the South (about 1 million units), followed by the West (about 750,000 units). The disrepair of these structures threatens more than neighborhood real estate values. Leaking roofs, collapsing floors, kerosene-heated interiors, and other conditions jeopardize the health and safety of mobile home residents, many of whom are elderly and disabled. Produced more than three decades ago with little consideration for energy efficiency, these structures have deteriorated over time and are now energy sieves. Heating and cooling energy escapes through unsealed windows and non-insulated walls, creating an uncomfortable living environment with an oversized carbon footprint. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey, manufactured homes built before 1980 consume an average of 84,316 BTUs per square foot, 53 percent more than all other types of homes. Housing experts report it is not uncommon for some of the lowest -income households to see their energy bills absorb half or more of their income, but, for many reasons, they fall through the cracks of federal government assistance. Pre-1976 mobile homes are generally in such bad condition that traditional energy conservation techniques do not work. The Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program will not touch them, and they are typically outside urban program areas. The only way to improve housing livability and affordability for those who reside in old mobile homes––and to stop this vast waste of energy––is to entirely replace these homes with more energy efficient units.
The full fact sheet is available in pdf format below: