11 Updates for a More Energy Efficient Home
Old vs. New
Whenever I talk about owning a mobile home, it is very common to be asked about my electric bill—translation: “How’s your energy efficiency?”
It’s a valid question. But the answer is very similar to a lot of questions about my mobile home, or any home of the manufactured type.
See, my mobile home was built over thirty years ago, not long after the federal regulations from H.U.D. were issued over the manufactured home industry. This was also before much awareness about energy efficiency in general, and long before the brilliant energy saving appliances, windows, and roofing on the market today.
My point? My mobile home could definitely use a few energy efficient updates. But so could my mom’s site-built home from the 1960’s. This question is not a matter of my living in a manufactured home or site built home, it’s simply a matter of implementing new energy saving technology into an older home.
ENERGY STAR began as an EPA program in the early 1990’s dedicated to designing electronics that were less taxing on energy resources and over the next decade evolved into the standard for energy efficient home building.
This energy efficiency standard, many may be unaware, is available for manufactured home buyers as well. Opting for this building standard means:
- Thicker insulation
- Strictly regulated installation of air ducts
- ENERGY STAR Windows
- Higher efficiency heating and cooling equipment
- ENERGY STAR quality products (appliances, lights, fans, etc.)
All of this, of course, translates into more year round comfort, utility bill savings, and less strain on environmental resources.
Updating Efficiency on an Older Home
Sure, ENERGY STAR is great, but what do I do about the house I already have?
Glad you asked.
There are some super easy and cheap updates as well as a few that might require a little more financial commitment.
The Easy and Cheap Updates
Caulk—Sealing up seemingly harmless cracks and crevices to the outside of your home will stop your “bought air” from leaking out. Take an hour to inspect all around your home for these troublesome energy thieves.
Duct tape—Use duct tape for something other than holding your batteries in the remote and cover up any areas of your ducting that might be letting air escape as it is pushed across the house.
Weather stripping—Homes expand and contract with heat and cold which causes slight shifting in door frames. Install weather stripping to make up the difference when there are small openings from your exterior doors to the outside.
Unplug—Appliances use energy even when they aren’t necessarily in use. Unplug your toaster, flat iron, mixer, and even phone chargers when not in use.
Flip the switch—Don’t forget to turn lights off when you aren’t in a room. Open drapes and blinds and use the sun to light your home when possible.
Program the thermostat—Most thermostats have programmable features. It only takes a few minutes to set your thermostat’s temperature based on the hours your home is occupied.
Clean out the Fridge—Overcrowded refrigerators require more energy to keep cooled. Make sure outdated items and empty containers aren’t taking up valuable fridge real estate.
More Expensive but More Rewarding Updates
Windows—This one is obvious, but still worth mentioning. There have been major advances in window technology in the last few years that dramatically enhance home cooling and heating efficiency. Windows can be expensive, but even replacing one or two windows every year will greatly improve your home’s efficiency.
Appliances—From washers to refrigerators to stoves and microwaves, energy efficient products are available. If you have to change out an appliance anyway, go for something that will do its job and save you money.
Roof—There are many different roofing materials available these days, and obviously price ranges vary widely. Check out this “cool roof” calculator to estimate what benefits you would have from upgrading a low efficiency roof.
Insulation—Adding thicker insulation, blowing insulation in attic spaces, and securing mobile home skirting will all add to the efficiency of your heating and cooling.
It’s Worth It
There are many ways to increase your energy efficiency if you are living in an older manufactured or site-built home. These little upgrades will not only make your home more comfortable, but will be reflected in your monthly electricity usage statements.
If you are not a home owner yet, consider the ENERGY STAR package as part of your “must-have” list. While the results won’t be immediately apparent in a style sense, your first bill from a Texas summer will make it all worth it.