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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