More than 17 million individuals in the U.S. live in manufactured or mobile homes, and they just may be in for more energy-efficient designs in the future.
Manufacturers shipped 70,519 homes in 2015, more than the number of single-family homes built in any state except Texas. Because of the vast amount of homes being shipped to multiple states, the federal government, not the state government, is responsible for their energy regulations.
Unfortunately, the energy provisions of the “HUD Code” (set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development) that governs manufactured housing have not been changed significantly since 1994.
What this means for mobile home owners is that a lot of their money is going towards energy bills. In fact, mobile home owners are paying more than twice what single homeowners pay per square foot.
After several failed attempts at re-drafting the legislation, lawmakers finally came to a decision this past year. DOE estimates the typical manufactured home will save 27% of energy use compared to a home that meets the current HUD Code.
However, energy-efficient homes are making changes in more areas than just mobile homes. Tiny houses are on the rise, and for good reason.
Living in small dwellings has always been popular on the fringes, but the movement has progressed as the average size of a new single family home in the U.S. has grown from 1,800 to nearly 2,700 square feet in the last 40 years.
Much of the movement is based on fiscal reasons, energy conservation, environmental responsibility, and an overall simplification of living situations to allow the owner freedom from heavy rent or mortgages. The movement has grown so large, in fact, that the Tiny House Jamboree has ironically moved to a bigger venue this year.
The Tiny House Jamboree is an annual gathering in Colorado Springs, CO where tiny home movement leaders and an estimated 40,000 enthusiasts come from far and wide to educate themselves and celebrate the art of living small.
“This year is really exciting,” says Tiny House Jamboree Event Coordinator, Cole Whalen, “We’re twice as big as last year with about 50 tiny homes on display and a greater variety than ever before. We’ll have everything from an airstream to tailgate homes, Petite Chateaus which are sort of Alice In Wonderland-style homes, eco-cabins, a mini chapel, and even an ‘Ohm Hom,’ which is a legal backyard dwelling.”
They’re no tiny homes, but mobile homes are about to get more energy-efficient designs, provided the federal government can assure manufacturers follow the guidelines.
DOE still needs to work out how to ensure manufacturers meet the new code without violating HUD’s health and safety requirements, but the fact remains that the new regulations will make life a little easier on the environment and on homeowners.