The mobile home of tomorrow: Vermont leads the way

by Peter Schneider, Senior Energy Consultant

In a previous blog post, I wrote that Efficiency Vermont and project partners were collaborating on a project to design high performance mobile homes that are durable, energy efficient, and affordable to Vermonters. I am pleased to report that the Vermont high performance mobile home project has now unveiled the first of ten such homes being built in 2013.

The idea was born after Tropical Storm Irene destroyed 150 mobile homes, but these homes are designed to be even more than a long term recovery solution. As we began to work closely on the project, housing advocates and energy efficiency experts in Vermont quickly agreed that purchase price is not the only factor that makes a home affordable - it's also about the monthly costs to live in it, and the safety and security of high quality construction  Mobile homes with poor insulation, lack of air sealing, and inefficient lighting and appliances mean very high electric and heat bills for the families that live in them. Vermonters now have an energy efficient alternative to traditionally inefficient mobile homes.

The deep window sills are a result of the thick walls filled with more than twice the insulation found in a typical manufactured home. A Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator (CERV) handles heating, cooling and ventilation in the high performance mobile home. The kitchen is spacious and incorporates ENERGY STAR appliances. With an open living space and large windows in all rooms, these homes defy the stereotype of modular homes.The homes are designed to accommodate porches, decks, and ramps to ensure accessibility for all homeowners as well as eliminate maintenance, increase durability, and blend into the Vermont landscape. Efficient appliances help to keep energy bills low. Unlike typical modular homes, which are manufactured out of state, the Vermod high performance modular homes are built in Vermont at this factory in White River Junction. The high performance modular home team, pictured from left to right: Steve Davis, owner of Vermod, Craig Peltier of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Peter Schneider, Senior Energy Consultant at Efficiency Vermont, and Chet Pasho, Vermod building consultant. Over one hundred visitors toured the model home on the first day it was open at the White River Junction, Vermont factory. Steve Davis, owner of Vermod, and Chet Pasho, the Vermod Plant Manager, discuss some of the high performance home's features with Governor Peter Shumlin and Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

We expect utility bills in these high performance homes to be about $16 per month – an incredible reduction for homeowners who are accustomed to paying hundreds of dollars every month to heat and power their home.  But the full impact will be much broader than that. It will mean a comfortable, healthy, and secure home; a source of pride; and a beautiful, economical, and sustainable addition to any Vermont community. You can tour the model home, or look into purchasing one, by contacting a participating NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center in your area. Tell us what you think of the high performance mobile homes in the comments.

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