Smart Energy: March 2016

Smart Energy: Update your manufactured home

By Arthur Chaput

Arthur Chaput

Arthur Chaput

Manufactured homes are a major source of affordable housing in Douglas County. Older manufactured homes are also, unfortunately, major energy hogs. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey, manufactured homes built before 1980 consume 53 percent more energy per square foot than all other types of homes.

Modern manufactured homes are entirely different from their predecessors, and many are built to last with exacting energy performance specifications. New financing tools are available, too, replacing the often predatory high interest chattel loans of decades past — 21st century manufactured housing can be an affordable, durable and energy-efficient solution to rural housing needs.

NeighborWorks Umpqua — supported by partners throughout the state — has begun a pilot program repairing and replacing older manufactured homes on owner-occupied land throughout Douglas, Coos and Curry counties, and many of our customers have experienced dramatic decreases in energy usage.

In some cases, the savings from decreased energy usage have been significant enough to offset much of the owners’ new mortgage payments (while increased comfort, indoor air quality and overall livability compensated for the rest).

Even if an older manufactured home doesn’t need to be replaced, there may be ways to improve its energy performance. Failed skirting around the perimeter of a home is the main source of performance loss that we encounter, as failed skirting invites animals in to damage the under-floor insulation and HVAC ducting.

Repairing skirting and a liberal application of spray foam insulation around pipes and other penetrations are low-cost ways of reducing utility bills. Replacement HVAC systems, especially ductless heat pumps, can also be cost-effective energy performance upgrades to older manufactured homes.

Manufactured housing financing is NeighborWorks Umpqua’s latest foray into helping Douglas County residents save energy, but it certainly isn’t our first.

We are one of NeighborWorks America’s designated “Green” organizations, and we strive to apply that ethic to everything we do. We’ve tested and deployed solar power systems at multifamily and single-family developments. We’ve rehabilitated hundreds of single family homes, helping many homeowners save thousands of dollars on utility bills.

Our multifamily housing projects are constructed or rehabilitated to exacting environmentally-friendly specifications, and our latest project, the LEED Gold Certified Eagle Landing development on the Roseburg VA campus, won us the “Affordable Housing Developer of the Year” award from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Arthur Chaput is the Director of Housing Rehabilitation for NeighborWorks Umpqua. For more information on NWU’s manufactured home replacement and repair programs, call NeighborWorks at 541-673-4909 or visit For tips on other ways to save energy, visit Douglas County Smart Energy is a project of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition. For more information about the Coalition, call 541-672-9819 or find them on Facebook at Douglas County Global Warming Coalition.