Winter brings the holiday season, and it also brings bone-chilling weather with it. If your mobile home is not properly protected, you may experience a dramatic increase in your utility bills as your system works overtime to keep your house comfortable. Whether you live in a double-wide, single-wide or even a tiny home, here are some tips to maximize the efficiency of your current system, and help you choose the best option for a new source of heat.
There are 2 main furnace systems that can be used to heat your mobile home – gas and electric. Is one better than the other?
- Which system should last longer?
- Is one more energy efficient than the other?
Electric systems are usually cheaper to purchase and install, but the long-term operational costs can be higher. However, the components of an electric furnace have a life-span between 20 and 30 years, much longer than gas systems, which last 10-20 years. Electric heat is quieter and maintenance is easy on the wallet.
A gas furnace will be expensive to install due to the piping required to bring the gas into the house, and the system is more complicated than an electric furnace. However, gas can be less expensive in the long run, because it is more efficient. In addition, gas heats up much quicker than electricity, which is a benefit when walking into a cold house.
A major difference between the two systems is that gas burns and therefore emits a small amount of carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous if not constantly monitored. Alarms are inexpensive, but must be maintained to ensure your safety.
Heat pumps are popular in most areas of the country, because they can provide heat and air conditioning from the same unit, using the same ducting system. In the winter, the system draws heat from the outside air through a system of coils and transfers it to the inside unit where the blower distributes it through the ductwork. In the summer, the heat pump pulls the hot air from the home and transfers it to the coils in the outside unit, where the fan transfers the heat to the atmosphere.
Compared to either an electric or gas furnace, heat pumps can be more efficient, resulting in lower energy bills. In the coldest climates, heat pumps rely on electric heating coils to provide the heat they can’t draw from the outside air. They are also expensive to install. If you are currently using radiator or baseboard heating, you will have to have ducts installed to channel the flow of heat to the individual rooms.
Cooling and Heating Wall Unit
A popular alternative to full-sized heat pump and furnace systems are wall units that provide heating and cooling, also called ductless systems. They are essentially mini heat pumps designed for single rooms. One advantage of these systems over window units is that they are not mounted in the window. They can be mounted on any exterior wall and only require a small opening in the wall for the piping to pass through. They are up to 25% more efficient than adding ductwork to your current heat pump system, since a ductless unit does not lose any heat to the ducts during air transfer.
There are downsides to these units:
- In extremely cold environments, you will need a fuel-based backup heat source.
- They are much more expensive than a window unit if you are heating and cooling a small area.
- If you replace a whole house system with individual ductless systems, you could pay 2-3 times more than just replacing your main system.
Radiant Floor Heating
Electric radiant heating is one of the most efficient and comfortable sources of heat that is available. Underfloor radiant heat provides even heating throughout the room, because it heats the people and furniture in the room, not the air. Radiant heat is transmitted through electromagnetic waves and is absorbed by the people and objects in the room. Its effect is the same as having your shirt warmed by the Sun on a winter day. You feel the heat, but don’t see the source.
Heat generated by blowing hot air through ducts tends to cluster near the ceiling away from the intake, causing hot and cold spots in the room. Furnaces and heat pumps depend on fans to drive the air throughout the home. They are noisy, and blow allergens throughout the home, and they are either off or on, requiring a startup cycle every time it operates, which is a large energy draw.
A radiant underfloor system, coupled with a smart thermostat, can maintain the temperature in a room without the expensive startup cycle that furnaces and heat pumps must go through, and there is minimal chance of cold and hot pockets forming, since the air is not being heated.
Increase Mobile Home Heating System Efficiency
Wall and Ceiling Insulation
If you live in an older mobile home, you may not have adequate wall and ceiling insulation installed. In fact, you may not have any. If you can feel the outside temperature on the inside of the walls or floor, then you may not have any insulation. It isn’t easy to install insulation after the home is built, but it can be done.
Fiberglass insulation batts can be installed under the home between joists, to help isolate the cold wind under the mobile home from the living area above. The attic may be harder to reach, but if there is access through the ceiling, you could have blown-in insulation added to the ceiling, which will dramatically increase the comfort level inside the home.
A great addition is Warmup’s Ultralight insulation boards. This insulation keeps the radiant heat heading upwards rather than losing energy downwards beneath the system.
Adding skirting around the perimeter of your mobile home is a quick way to prevent cold air from infiltrating under your home. The cold wind blowing under your home will result in a loss of energy, as the water pipes lose heat before they reach your bathroom and kitchen. The skirting will also help maintain warmer temperatures underneath the home, which can prevent pipes from freezing during extended cold spells.
Plug-In Cable Kits for Freeze Protection
For additional protection for your system, Warmup offers plug-in cable kits for freeze protection for pipes and cabling. This is not necessary for the system, but a major advantage when installing in mobile homes as that environment is more susceptible to outside temperatures than normal structures.
Use Warmup Radiant Floor Heating System to Heat Mobile Homes
Warmup electric underfloor radiant heat systems are easy to install, and can be used as an add-on heat source for your mobile home, or can replace an old furnace or electric baseboard system for the entire house. Adding a Warmup underfloor radiant system to your home adds about ½” to the floor height and can be installed under carpet, laminate, or ceramic tile.