Solar Energy Mobile Home Improvements

A guide to solar energy mobile home improvements—some great and some small—that will make living in manufactured housing more economical and comfortable.

| September/October 1985


Turn to A Roof-Over Retrofit to find out how one family beautified their mobile home and reduced winter and summer energy costs as well.


These solar energy mobile home improvements will make life in manufactured housing less costly by cutting back on heating bills. (See the solar energy photos and diagrams in the image gallery.)

The 1980 Census of Housing revealed that there were 4.1 million mobile homes in use in the United States. And the popularity of mobile homes has increased since then: They accounted for fully one-third of the single-family houses sold in this country in 1983. Unfortunately, thermal performance standards for such manufactured housing lag behind those of conventional site-built homes. This is despite federal legislation that charged the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with establishing minimum energy-use requirements for homes built after June 15,1976. Sadder yet, about 75% of the mobile homes in use today were constructed prior to that date, and thus may not be bound by any standards whatsoever.  

The plain truth is that mobile homes use, on the average, twice as much energy for heating and cooling as do new, comparably sized conventional homes. On the other hand, they are affordable at a time when conventional housing is priced out of the reach of many people, and—better yet—they lend themselves to a number of modifications or improvements that can narrow and even eliminate the energy-efficiency gap, while enhancing the structure's appearance in the process. The following nine-page mini-manual illustrates these benefits by offering exciting examples of what some mobile home owners have done to better their lot.  

Mother's research department "mobilized" its forces to make solar energy mobile home improvements and produce a solar collector that cuts those winter heating bills!

Economy Solar . . . To Go!

You don't have to live in a mobile home to appreciate an uncomplicated and affordable source of supplemental heat, but those who do will find our staff designed add-on solar collector especially attractive, for a couple of reasons. First, its construction is simple and compatible with most any site: It rests on a stacked-block foundation, feeds warm air and returns it through any available window opening, and needn't be bolted to the house. It doesn't use a chimney, pump, storage tank, or other complicated paraphernalia. Second, it provides a temperate, daylighted, protected shelter for storage or seed germination, a welcome bonus where space is at a premium.

Before you start tearing into the ground with your spade, though, you might consider a few things. Most important, your home should have a south-facing window available to accept the collector's air exchange plenum. The lower sash of this opening will be permanently blocked, so don't plan on using the window for ventilation. Furthermore, if the opening isn't located in the room you want to heat, you'll have to run an inside duct to that area.

8/1/2017 7:02:16 AM

What programs are there to help the low-income families to save on their bills on these manufactured homes? If so where? Thank you

8/16/2016 7:37:49 PM

New mobile homes range from $30,000-$300,000; however, average mobile home prices are from $35,000-$100,000. Found the info here:

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