DOE’s Manufactured Home Efficiency Rule Disappoints Conservation Advocates and Manufacturers

Diving brief:

  • The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday adopted new energy efficiency standards for manufactured homes, also known as mobile homes, setting different conservation requirements for single- and multi-section structures to balance the initial affordability and long-term cost savings.
  • The rules, including new insulation and weatherproofing requirements, could save residents up to $450 a year on their utility bills, the DOE estimated. About 17 million Americans live in manufactured homes, which are built offsite, as opposed to traditional stick-built homes.
  • The new DOE rules have been criticized both by efficiency advocates, who argue the tiered standard is too lax, and by domestic manufacturers, who say it will drive up costs.

Overview of the dive:

The Biden administration this week announced new measures to ease housing costs and boost housing supply in the United States. Mobile home makers, however, say new energy efficiency rules will undermine those initiatives.

“The significant cost increases for actual manufactured home buyers far outweigh the speculative energy savings that the rule says will occur,” said Manufactured Housing Institute CEO Lesli Gooch.

The DOE said the rules will require new manufactured homes to meet standards based on the size of the home and the climate in which it will be located. The new rule is based on the most recent version of the International Energy Conservation Code, and the DOE said manufacturers must be in compliance one year after it was published in the Federal Register.

“The rules will force manufacturers of these U.S. homes to meet economic efficiency standards, providing residents with more comfortable living environments and a much-needed break from their annual utility costs,” the Energy Secretary said. Jennifer Granholm in a statement.

However, the new rules have yet to be incorporated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development into its building requirements, Gooch said. “The group’s top priority now is to persuade HUD to adopt MHI’s more balanced proposal instead,” she said.

IMH had recommended revising exterior wall insulation requirements, duct system testing procedures and other aspects of the rule.

MHI’s proposal “improves energy efficiency without seriously harming the affordability of manufactured housing” and would better support Biden’s efforts to close the housing supply gap, Gooch said.

Efficiency advocates are also unhappy with the new rule, even though they claim it will reduce power consumption by more than half of new units. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, manufactured homes will always be less efficient than site-built homes, and small single-section homes will be allowed to use thin insulation and single-glazed windows.

Single-section homes make up 45% of mobile homes built today, and the new requirements for them will be “only slightly stricter” than the rules previously approved by the DOE in 1994, the ACEEE said.

“This rule gives manufacturers the green light to continue building models with the same issues,” ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said in a statement. “It will leave many of the poorest households paying painfully high utility bills for even more years.”

Along with the new efficiency rules, the DOE also announced that it is supporting several initiatives to reduce the costs of manufactured housing, including the creation of a loan loss reserve to increase access to affordable housing. . The agency said it will provide guidance and work with states “to develop replicable state models that ensure access to affordable and efficient manufactured homes.”

Along with the National Association of State Energy Officials, the DOE announced it would launch a Manufactured Homes Energy Efficiency and Affordability Initiative to work to “improve access to homes energy-efficient prefabs across the United States, including tribal lands”. Several states, including California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina, have already signed up to participate.

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