You Can Keep Your Mobile Home Cool!

We’ve been checking out other mobile home living communities online over the past month and many conversations center around the high temperatures this year. Living in a mobile home presents many challenges with regard to the temperatures outside, hot and cold. If you have an older mobile home, insulation can be scant, if there’s any at all. Much older homes are often covered with aluminum siding, which can turn that home right into a hot tin can if the temps climb! In this article, we’ll address ways we have found to economically and efficiently make a mobile home more comfortable and energy efficient in during warmer temperature seasons.

In our quest to improve our mobile home to “house” quality, we have learned so many lessons about how they are built. When tearing out wall board during a bathroom remodel, we found that behind the 1/4 inch thick gypsum board and the insulation was a 1/4 inch layer of Styrofoam, and then the siding. Our home is a 1995 double wide. I guess we just expected more. It’s amazing the wind doesn’t blow right through it! We have been even more surprised by the items we have found like tools under the sub-flooring and odd bunches of electrical wire shoved in the wall that were connected to nothing. Some friends have a home nearly identical to ours and they have found wads of tube socks in their walls. Hmmmmm….it boggles the mind what was going on the day they ended up in there!

In every project we take on, we have determined a way to make our home more energy efficient. Each year, our heating and cooling expenses have gone done as a result of this. Some things cost $40 to achieve, some cost nearly $2000. However, we have already made our money back on all of them in only a couple of years.

First, the least expensive energy “fix” we have found is window film. We have very large windows throughout our home, some as big as 47″ x 53″. The original windows were the standard double window with a thin glass window on the outside and an interior storm. These windows worked like a sieve as far as air flow, but they are also so large that most of our home was immersed in sunlight during the day, creating an oven on the inside by late afternoon.

The product we use is called Gila Window Film. The benefits of applying this to your windows as listed on the product are as follows:

  • Rejects 72% of the sun’s heat
  • Blocks 72% of sun’s glare
  • Helps keep inside cool
  • Blocks up to 99% of UV rays
  • Provides privacy even in the daytime hours

Even on our original windows this product made a huge difference in the amount of heat that got trapped in our home. Here is a video from another company’s product (Tap Plastics) on how to apply it. We’ve watched this video in full and it’s pretty consistent with our experience. Don’t let the process fool you if it seems long and complicated. Once you do a window or two, you get into a routine and it ends up being a small amount of work for a huge energy savings. You can also buy a small kit that includes all of the tools you need.

Window Film Installation

Plantation blinds on new windows

Plantation Blinds on New Windows

Second, on the windows that gathered the most sun we installed faux wood plantation window blinds. These were easy to install even for our large windows, cost less than $60 each, are cut to size, and are available in many colors at your local home improvement store. We think they added significantly to the “house” or “cottage” look we have always tried to achieve in our improvements. These block so much light that on the hottest days we can make our home dark and keep it cool.

Room darkened by plantation blinds

Room darkened by plantation blinds

Third, we had to do it…we purchased and installed new windows. We never thought we could install these on our own, but surprisingly it went very smoothly and made an enormous difference by reducing air flow in both hot and cold seasons. We purchased these from our favorite online mobile home parts dealer, Ashville Mobile Homes. “Trailer John,” as he is known, and his son, are so knowledgeable and helpful regarding mobile homes and how to fit and “retro-fit” them is unmatched! They knew just the windows we were describing and explained how to install them, encouraging us a bit at the same time that we could do it ourselves.

New double-pane vinyl windows with plantation blinds and window film applied.

New double-pane vinyl windows with plantation blinds and window film applied.

Six large windows, as described above, and two smaller ones came to less than $1600 and were sent by freight for under $200, delivered right to our home. Ripping out those old windows was a joyful exercise, let me tell you!

An example of the product we purchased and the pricing of each size can be found here:

Of course, we have ceiling fans in each room and are sure to set them to rotate in the proper direction for the current season. We also have a 12,000BTU air conditioner in a central location. During high humidity (isn’t that every day in Upstate NY?) we keep the air on when it’s above 85* outside. If it’s dryer air, we will open the windows in the evening if the temps go down in the mid 70’s. This insures that in the morning we will start out with a nice cool house, even if we determine it’s a good day to turn on the air conditioning.

We hope you find these tips and information helpful. Our comfort in our home has been improved greatly over the last 15 years due to these improvements. We still hope to insulate and reside our home one day, and even to have blown insulation put in our ceiling as well as a steel reflective roof installed. These will also increase the efficiency of our home, but for now, we will enjoy the small changes we have made and the savings they have provided. I can’t afford a roof yet, I have a kitchen to remodel! All in due time…..

Happy Remodeling!

~The McGees

48 Comments:

  1. This is my second year living in a double wide mobile home. My question is how do I keep the summer heat out of my home. My living room faces West and I have 5 windows that are tinted facing West. The window are covered with wooden blinds and blackout curtains. My central air is set on 74 degrees, there 2 ceiling fans going full speed and 2 oscillating fans on high speed in my living room and diving room. It starts to get hot around mid day and at 4:00 o' clock it peaks to the highest temperature and my living room and dinning room temperature goes up to 80 degrees.

    Can anyone tell me what I can do to reduce this heat temperature in these room. Before I spend anymore money on these windows do you think I should invest in: a) steel Bahama awnings, b) Plantation shutters in Poly Core Aluminum, c) aluminum double pane windows, d) a portable air conditioner.

    I would appreciate your best opinion. Thank you

    • Hi Dorothy. I apologize, I've just been alerted to the most recent comments on our site.
      We had the hardest time keeping our home cool when we first moved in, even when the home was new. The original windows in our "95 Fairmont double wide were the thin pane glass with a slide down storm. AWFUL windows. We have since replaced the windows twice.

      The first time, we did with double hung replacement windows and that was good, plus we put window film over them, which kept about 70% of the sun out.
      Last year, we installed triple pane double hung windows. This summer, our home stayed so cool it was amazing. Our portable air conditioners were able to keep up with the outdoor heat so easily. I highly recommend the triple pane windows. They were pricy ( about 4k with grids in them) but as we get older, our comfort is really worth the expense. We are aging in place and we intend to be as comfortable as possible for the least cost. The investment in the windows has saved us so much on electricity costs in just one year for air conditioning that I think we will recoup our cost in just a few years for the windows.

  2. Hi you have a lot of great suggestions but my situation is thermostat is on a wall but above the wall when it’s hot outside the wall gets so hot that is making the thermostat rise up and my house can’t cool off without the air conditioning running and running and running. I don’t know much but I would seem like the thermostat should be relocated I don’t know how much something like that would cost I have a new air conditioning I don’t want to tip the windows cuz the house is already dark but that’s where the culprit seems to be and that wall for some reason somehow that heats coming in there cuz I put my hand in there there is hard wiring the once the house cools off the wiring is not hot inside the wall maybe I could shove some insulation in there I’m not sure quite interesting that high bills thank you my name is Beth

    • Hi Beth.
      Thanks so much for visiting our site and commenting. I'm not sure I'm clear on what you are asking. I do know that a home energy audit of your home could prove to be really useful in determining what your most challenging energy use issues are. We just had one done and they are free in our state (New York). Do a google search for "home energy audits" and your state or county name to see if they are available in your community for free. Even if they aren't, it could still be well worth the money to have one done. They will do many tests to determine where you are losing heat or cool air, where more insulation is needed, what is working efficiently and what is not. They can give you low cost DIY solutions as well as costlier long term solutions to help with bigger energy use challenges.

      In ours, we determined that while we were planning to install insulated siding, that isn't what was needed. Rather, a new, energy efficient hybrid furnace with central air and a complete under-home encapsulation are what is really the way to go for the most energy efficiency and cost savings. Our original plan and the new plan cost relatively the same, the savings will just be higher with the new plan.

      So, having a home energy audit could really help you determine what is not working efficiently and costing you more money than necessary. I hope you can find a program in your state and county that is free.

      Good luck!
      Beth

  3. Does painting an older mobile home white cool it at all? The roof is already white and the siding is a medium teal color. Thanks, Susan Lauer

    • Hi Sue. Thanks for your comment.
      I'm not sure sure painting the roof a lighter color will make it cooler. I think it mostly will depend upon the material the roof is made of. Plus, if you want to roof to reflect the heat, you will need to use a reflective paint. Here's some info about it from the Dept. of Energy:
      https://energy.gov/energysaver/cool-roofs

  4. Changing to CFL or LED bulbs makes a considerable difference. They use less power for the same amount of light and don’t give off as much heat as incandescent bulbs.

    Good window film makes a big difference. The cheap stuff helps a lot, but the better grade films look nicer and reflect incoming heat better. My home still has the original single pane windows and installing the platinum film dropped the temperature by 10 degrees.

    A metal roofover makes a big difference too. Mine has styrofoam insulation over the existing roof, and the metal roof over that. Combined with the above tricks I can leave the air off all day and it doesn’t get above 86 degrees inside.

    • Thanks for commenting and sharing these great tips, JD! I agree the film makes a huge difference.
      This year, we installed triple pane vinyl windows and they have been amazing. Very pricey, but we are here for the long haul. We got a $250 credit on our taxes for installing them though, which helps. Plus, we saved a lot on heating costs. I think they will pay for themselves in less than 5 years in heating and cooling expense. I didn't realize a metal roof could make that much difference. We just did a shingle roof, so it's too late for that :-)

      I'm so glad you've found some solutions to keeping your home cool. Thanks again!

  5. What about sta-kool on the roof? Will that help with the heat too?

    • Hi Brad, thanks for stopping by!
      I don't know if sta-kool would help. I'm not sure what it is. Have you tried it? If so, please share your experience.

  6. I would like to say on the cooling of the house. Their is several things I learned in 20 yrs of owning a mobile home. 1 is put 40 watts are lower light bulbs in, secound blackout curtains a must. Fans and ceiling fans a must. I also had my central air outside compressor replaced apout 5 yrs ago and the new engery efficient laws . Made it cool so much better my electric bill paid for it in 6 mnths time. I had been getting $400. bills before and I have they immediately went to below $200. and I have never had a $400. bill since. My a/c guy also put new return vent cutout in my kitchen that goes to a/c directly I keep washable filters over and keep both clean. Also make sure drain line to unit is clean. Will answer any questions.

    • Thank you for visiting, Debra! And for your suggestions too. At this time of year, the most popular post on our site is the one about keeping the home cool. Soooo many people in mobile homes have difficulty with this, regardless of the age of the home, but particularly with older ones. Ours isn't so old, 1995, but it has huge windows and until we had them replaced with triple pane, they always collected and trapped heat in the home.

      I haven't suggested black out curtains before, but it really is a no-brainer. I should have thought of this as an addition to the post. More efficient AC is a great idea. We don't have central air, and since we've gotten the portables, I'm not sure we will get it right away. But newer efficient equipment is certainly cheaper to run.

      I'm glad you've found some good solutions. Thanks so much for sharing them with all of us!

  7. On the mositure under the home. We actually purchased our home brand new in 97, They were supposed to get the concrete footers put in that I see under your trailer but they didn't have anyone available. So the dealer offered to pay for rock under the trailer instead. I tell you everyone that lives in our neighborhood started coming over saying they wish they had done that. And then our next store house actually had some brought in and shoveled under the house due to unlevel problems under the home were water set. I live in Frisco , Tx and we have never had a problem with moister . We have had to deal with flooding last year. And our neighbors water line break. We also have a room we added that has no rock and it has sunk d settled bad. (we should of put rock.) Hope this helps.

    • Thanks for visiting, Debra.

      Your suggestion about having rock shoveled under the home is a great one. I had never thought of that! I have often thought of doing something, but haven't been able to figure the best way. Next year, we are hoping to replace our skirting that we built about 12 years ago. It's really solid and it has kept critters out really well. Not sure if we'll be able to get it off to be honest! But, it is getting worn in some spots and we should replace it before we get much older and can't do this kind of big build on our own. When we do this, it will open everything up. Perhaps while that is going on, we can have a plan to do something with the dirt underneath and cover it well to keep out moisture. I like your suggestion of putting stone underneath. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  8. Has anybody tried roof vents? I see some homes have them, others (like me) not. It seems by 1:00 its just as hot inside as outside.

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting, Sal!
      We only have exhaust fans in the bathroom, which we will turn on sometimes if we have forgotten to put the air conditioner on. However, when I was a kid, a relative of mine had a large built in fan in the ceiling in their hall and it just pulled the hot air out of the house and moved the air in the house from the floor up, cooling things down so quickly. It was amazing! I've always wanted to install one of those, but we haven't made it happen yet.

  9. Hello, we just bought our first mobile home fixer upper for $1,500. What a steal,its a 1br 1ba nice kitchen n livingroom. It wasnt in to bad of a shape cause we were able to move right in. My boyfriend does drywall for a living on top of electrician. The boss of his comp has supplied all the drywall n all material needed to convert the inside to look like a regular house instead of the cheap wood panneling look. We are gutting room by room starting with the br which is at the back of the trailer. Heres my question finally lol,we bought a new heating n cooling system for our trailer but obviously cant put it n yet n im absolutly dying in this heat. I mean i have a small window ac n 3 fans going 24/7. It gets so hot inside i literaly get sick. Our home is aluminum n sucks. PLEASE TELL ME WHAT CAN I DO TEMPORARILY TO COOL IT DOWN. Im desperate im ready to put tarps over the whole thing i just dont know what to do. I go outside and drench myself n come back inside soaking wet sit on a towel n within 10 minutes tops im completly dry.

    • Welcome, Tracy! Thanks for visiting our site.
      It sounds like you got a terrific deal on your home! For immediate cooling, covering your windows to keep the sun from coming in can make a big difference. If you can't cover the windows, put Low-E window film on them to cut the heat from getting in. Also, get an air conditioner in each room. A small air conditioner cannot cool an entire mobile home. We have a 26×48 double wide and we need three air conditioners plus fans to move the cool air around. Our air conditioners are 12 K BTU, 10 K BTU, and 5 K BTU. If you get a couple of more small ones or one larger one (probably max at 12 K with 110 electric outlet) you should do pretty well cooling things down. For now, it's your best option until you get the new cooling system in.

      We recently put new triple pane windows in our home and had to get new air conditioners. We opted for portable since we didn't want to see the window air conditioners hanging out the front of the house any longer. We bought one new and one on Craigslist. You may be able to find a portable one used for a really good deal. ours is less than a year old and was half the cost of new. We love it because we can move them from room to room easily depending upon if we have guests or not and need to cool another room we don't normally cool. This might work for you so you can focus on cooling the most used rooms in your house and only move it if you need to spend a lot of time in another area.

      Good luck to you! I know these aren't great solutioins, but they are the best I can think of after dealing with unbearable heat for over 20 years. New windows, air conditioners, and room darkening window coverings are the best solutions we've found.

    • I know how you fill I have a 70 model

      • Thanks, Taz. So glad you found our site!
        It is really hard in much older homes to keep it cool. With the aluminum frame windows especially, since after a long time they don't shut properly or completely anymore and allow heat to enter through the openings. Also, the glass in older home windows is single pane, and not insulated in any way so it just grabs the heat from the sun and traps it inside.

        Good luck to you in your efforts to stay cool. My dad has an older single-wide, although not as old as a 70. He has installed new windows in it. You may want to consider that. It makes a big difference.

  10. We replaced windows 2 years ago super easy, added metal roofing but did not increase our roof ventilation at the time HUGE mistake. A 100+ today and home is at 85 but AC is going full blast my master is78. we installed laminate flooring with a very thick felt padding6 mths ago considering the living room as well. I learned after fact that metal roofing needs more ventilation and Horton should be sued silly for for putting intact venting inside of homes. Someday I will add more roof vents. Good luck.

  11. Is that the same as window film for the winter months? If it is it might be too hot. I had some film on from the winter that I forgot about and my rooms were so warm during the summer. Once I removed them it was much better in my mobile home. Still hot as hell without AC but I felt the difference too.

    • Hi Amy. Thanks for visiting our site. This is not the same window film that you seal on your windows for winter months. It is a reflective film you apply by spraying a substance on the window and cutting the film to size, then using a squeegee to affix the film to the window. It is reflective on the outside and a bit tinted on the inside. It is used to reflect heat rather than regular windows absorbing heat and trapping it inside. It can reduce the heat absorbed by the window by 70%. We are replacing our windows with triple pane this year so it will make a huge difference, but we had great success with the heat reduction window film on our current windows.

      • This film is great, I use it in my apartment to reduce the heat. The is one that keeps the room cooler, but the same company has a better one that keeps heat outbin summers and heat in inbthe winter.

  12. Do you find that the tinted Low-E windows darkened your home significantly?

    • Hi Linzi. Thanks for commenting.
      We did not find that the Low-E windows darkened our home at all. We didn't find the window film to reduce the light in our home at all either. It serves as a privacy addition from the outside though, as it reflects outward so you can't really see inside very well.

      It does cut down significantly on UV so you may not be able to start seeds near the windows, but regular plants should fare well near the window even though the UV is diminished. The heat is significantly lower and it doesn't get as sweltering hot in the house, as is common in double wides with little insulation and large windows.

      Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment!

  13. I am a new mobile home owner. Mine gets really warm like you said. I don’t have the money for the windows but I think I’m going to try the film. I have the black out curtains over the windows. One question, can you open the windows with the film on during the cooler days?

    • Thanks for visiting, Pete. The film is applied directly to the window glass. It does not interrupt the operation of the window at all. You can open and close it as usual.
      I am going on the 5th year with the same film on the windows and it still works well. We also put dark bamboo style blinds on the windows rather than curtains. We have a pellet stove close to the window so I didn't want hanging curtains near that. The Blinds hold the heat out well too.

      Good luck!

  14. What Kinro windows did you use….I went to the site you mentioned …Kinro.com…and there are a number of windows…I like yours…was it the 9759 tilt-out?

    • Welcome! And thanks for commenting, Tanya. We chose the tilt out windows. We really love them. But we did not use the Kinro site to order them. We went to the Ashville Mobile Home's website to order them. We were able to see the windows and sizes there, and then we called Ashville Mobile Homes for assistance and ordered them over the phone. They were so helpful and know so much about mobile homes and proper sizing that it was a terrific experience. Shipping was by freight, but wasn't expensive and everything went perfectly. The link to the Ashville page with the windows is here: http://www.ashvillemobilehomes.com/kinro-vinyl-wi

      Don't hesitate to call them for help. They are really helpful people there.
      I hope this helps. We love our windows!

      The McGees

  15. Hi, I have a suggestion. I use window film and dark shutters aswell but found that heat was still an issue. I solved it with BUBBLE WRAP! I used medium bubbles and just sprayed water on my window and completely covered each window with the bubble wrap. I used clear but I’ve seen pink and blue available that might subtlety help too. It made a nearly 15 degree difference when nothing else was changed. I also put tinfoil on windows that are not visible to passing traffic (this was before the bubble wrap so not a factor in my 15 degree reduction in temperature.) I do not use my stove at all in the summer. I exclusively use a crock pot or I use my toaster oven outside in the screened in porch, or microwave. Setting a sprinkler to hit the hottest side of the house during peak heat is a huge money saver, even factoring the cost of water.

    Best Wishes,

    Staci Frye

    • Welcome, Staci. And thank you for these great suggestions! We haven't considered these tips before and they sound very useful.
      We hope you're keeping warm this winter!

      The McGees

  16. Looks like an awesome product, definitely need to try it.

  17. I have a 16 by 24 mobile home in t h e Sumner what do my thermostat should be on

  18. Nice post and really great info you shared here. thanks for sharing

  19. hi. we live in a double wide mobil home. right now it is 81 in here. we have central air. but seems only half the house is really cool. we have new windows (energy efficeint) and blinds and ceiling fans. and floor fans. any suggestions please.. thank you

    • Hi Patty. Thanks so much for commenting! I totally understand your situation with the heat in our double wides. I have always attributed it to thin walls with poor insulation and huge windows. Our windows in our living room take up nearly the whole front wall. Even after replacing them with vinyl replacement windows that are better insulated, if we didn't have the low UV film on the windows, we would roast in our house.

      We have solved our heat issues with one large window air condition in our livingroom and a small one in our kitchen. We also have darker wood look blinds now that keep the house dark while we're gone during the day and keep the sun out. When we arrive home later in the day, we can open up the blinds after the air has been on all day and it is really pretty cool in the house in every room. If you have a longer home with a long hallway and several bedrooms down the hall, it may be harder to keep these areas cool.

      One thing I did learn this past winter is that closing rooms off does not help with keeping heating costs down. It just moves the coldness closer inside to the areas you want to heat. I am not sure if this would work the same way with cooling. Have you tried closing off rooms/vents to rooms that you don't need to cool and only cooling the areas you normally use?

      I highly recommend the window film I mentioned in my post You Can Keep Your Mobilehome Cool. It keeps 70% of the UV rays from being trapped in your home and reduces the amount of heat collected in your home significantly.

      Thanks again for commenting. Your contributions here are much appreciated!
      Stay Cool-
      The McGees

      • I found your information and found it very useful. I had the best film there is installed by a professional company, on my older windows. It did make a difference during the early hours of the day, but in the afternoon the home is still baking at 90+ degrees. This is even with dark faux-wood blinds that are kept closed. My home gets pounded from the west and south with sun and I am in a corner where I can't really plant any trees. I have 4 wall air conditioners throughout the house, and even though they help, I pay $350+ if I use them all the time. I am thinking adding awnings, vinyl siding, roof insulation, but am afraid after spending all that money it will be the same or very little improvement. Do you have any suggestions, thanks.

        • Hi Greg. Welcome to our site! I have heard that roof insulation may be helpful, but only in the winter. We use one 12000 btu air conditioner in our living room and a smaller 5000 btu one in our kitchen. This keeps our home pretty cool and isn't that expensive to run. Newer air conditioners are more efficient and so will cost less to run. We have done all of the things you have mentioned in your comment and each has decreased the heat in our home pretty significantly. We do have a large tree line of pines along the front of our home and at this point, we planted them 30 years ago so they are quite tall. This keeps the sun blocked from our large front windows for the most part.

          Good luck finding a solution. This is a big problem with mobile homes due to large windows and also low insulation. Perhaps install new replacement windows that are better at keeping heat out?

          Beth

          • Hi there.I live in a single wide mobile home.is my home able to handle a 12,000 btu window unit without causing a fire.seems like outlet gets hot.?

            • Hi Carol. 12,000 BTU seems a bit high for your home. We have a newer double wide and we have a 16,000 btu in one window and a 5,000 in another room. This has less to do with the size of our home than the electric service and the quality of the wire used. A 100 amp service may not be enough to handle a 12,000 btu in your home depending upon what other electric usage you have going on in your home on a regular basis. Depending upon the year of your home, your wiring may also not be up to par. You may want to consult an electrician to be sure and be safe.

          • Hi there.I live in a single wide mobile home.is my home able to handle a 12,000 btu window unit without causing a fire.seems like outlet gets to hot.?

    • I understand perfectly. We have a 1680 sq.ft. double wide with cathedral ceiling in the living room, kitchen and dining room. We have vinyl siding installed over the original board, 30 year shingles on the roof, have new windows all over with faux wood blinds and we put a new Trane unit in last year. It is still 80+ degrees in here on a hot day. What is the answer?

      • Thanks for the visit and the comment, Bonnie. I think it comes down to insulation. Perhaps if there was insulation blown in the ceiling or foam or blown insulation in the walls it would retain the cool more efficiently. Our insulation is not that great. New HUD regulations were issued the year after our home was built, so we have pretty lame insulation. We've considered doing blown insulation, but at this point, we're considering selling and moving South, so I doubt that will happen. We've covered our inside walls with an additional layer whether it be sheet rock or knotty pine in most of our exterior rooms. That seems to have helped. We also have the Low-E window film installed on our windows. It works great. It suggests 70% reduction in heat. We installed it about 7 years ago. It's still good. Well worth the investment of about 30$ per roll, which would do about 3 of our large windows.

        I hope this helps and that you find a solution soon!

    • Check the cross over flexible ductwork that ties the two halves together. If only half is cool then pipe could have come loose.

  20. Thanks for this post. I've been a fan of window film for years. The best place I've seen it–the gym! It keeps large or small rooms so much cooler.

    I like Window Tint Pro. Their website has tons of information on window film, solar film and even window tint kits. Not to mention they have information for DIY projects. Check it out!!

  21. I really liked this post. You explain this topic very well. I really like your blog and I will definetly bookmark it! Keep up the great posts! :)

  22. I have the same blinds and I love them. That window film looks great.. I'm going to have to try it out too.

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