Manufactured homes often log disproportionately higher energy bills, compared to traditional wood-frame or modular homes. Here are some steps you can take to identify the most common energy-wasting culprits and remedy them.
Belly board problems- In most manufactured homes, the belly board holds the insulation in place under the floor and serves as a vapor barrier. Plumbing that runs under the floor is on the warm side of the insulation to keep it from freezing in the winter. However, the belly board can be damaged by animals, deteriorate over time or become torn, allowing the floor insulation to become moisture laden or fall out, exposing ductwork and dramatically increase energy losses. These problems must be addressed prior to basic weatherization. Replacing the belly board should be the first thing on your to-do list.
Air leakage/infiltration- Specific problems include deteriorated weather stripping, gaps in the “marriage wall” that joins multiple units making up a double- or triplewide home, holes in the ends of ducts, gaps around wall registers and behind washers and dryers, and unsealed backing to the electrical panel. Crawl under the home and into the attic to look for gaps to seal with weather stripping and insulation.
Crossover ducts- Crossover ducts that run under the sections making up your mobile home often are made of flexible tubing; they’re prone to collapse and are easy for animals to chew or claw into. Crossover ducts made of thin sheet metal can leak heated or cooled air outdoors, especially when ductwork connections are made with duct tape. Use either duct sealant or metal tape to seal seams in the ducts. If you can afford the upgrade, consider replacing flexible crossover ducts with insulated metal ductwork.
Lack of insulation- Insulation levels in walls, floors and ceilings in manufactured homes can be woefully inadequate, so adding additional insulation to ceiling and floors will help. However, adding insulation to walls will be a problem without major renovations that usually aren’t cost justified.
Single-glazed windows and uninsulated doors- Many manufactured homes come with single-glazed windows and uninsulated doors, so the rate of heat transfer between finished interior spaces and the outdoors is higher than what’s ideal. Replacing the windows with double- or triple-glazed units (or adding
storm windows) will help to make the home more comfortable. Installing insulated doors also will help. However, these solutions can be very expensive. At a minimum, add weather stripping to existing doors and windows.