Analysis: Low-income residents would save if DOE strengthened manufactured housing plan

(ACEEE blog, 10 Feb 2022) Low-income residents of manufactured homes would have significantly reduced housing costs if the Biden administration strengthened proposed energy efficiency standards for the homes, according to a report today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The pending plan from the Department of Energy (DOE)—which does little to increase nearly 30-year-old insulation requirements for many manufactured homes—failed to consider how stronger standards would benefit many lower-income residents and overestimated the costs of energy-efficient construction, according to the report.

These homes (sometimes called mobile homes) are a critical type of affordable housing—more than half of residents have incomes under two times the federal poverty level—but they often use large amounts of energy because of limited insulation and outdated windows and heating equipment. Energy costs are nearly twice as high per square foot in these homes compared to site-built homes, and a quarter of their residents spend more than 10% of their income on energy costs, ACEEE has found.

DOE proposed long-overdue efficiency standards for the homes in August 2021, but its “primary” option would leave models with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price under $63,000 with requirements that are little stronger than the 1994 rules in place today, while residents of more expensive homes would benefit from significantly stronger standards. An “alternative” option would require the stronger standards for all manufactured homes but still not require technology like efficient, electrified water heating.

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ACEEE blog, 10 Feb 2022: Analysis: Low-income residents would save if DOE strengthened manufactured housing plan