When we first started interviewing candidates for our 2010 Home Energy Makeover contest, we saw a clear need to provide some help and hope to our many members who live in mobile (or manufactured) homes. Air quality and comfort issues were often shared by these applicants, and their accounts clearly showed disproportionately high energy use.

One of our many goals is to help our members understand how they use energy so they can make better decisions on managing it through behavioral and structural changes. As energy prices continue to escalate, members are looking for creative new ways to control use. Mobile homes, as an often forgotten housing stock, present a unique set of challenges for energy efficiency.

To help provide qualified resources for members across our service territory, Midwest Energy recently hosted two energy retrofit clinics to equip home performance and general contractors with knowledge about the challenges and unique details in implementing energy efficiency improvements for mobile homes. Nearly 40 contractors representing 26 companies participated. Bob Pfeiffer, a senior trainer with the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC), provided in-class instruction and field-based demonstrations on unique components and characteristics of manufactured housing, including air duct system testing and sealing, floor cavity/wall/attic insulation and air sealing, health and safety, and building science best practices.

Pfeiffer has honed his craft through roles with the Department of Energy, low income weatherization assistance, and Wisconsin’s Focus on Mobile Home Energy Programs since 1982. He is nationally recognized for his expertise and travels the country speaking and providing instructional demonstrations. He trained our participants to Building Performance Institute standards and best practices for mobile homes, and showed contractors these standards can be upheld and made available to our members in a practical and affordable application.

Not only do we want to provide members with an expertly-trained group of contractors, but also information on ways they can finance improvements. Todd Parker, contract services manager for Michigan Saves, oversees a network of authorized contractors that promote the Michigan Saves Home Energy Loan Program. Todd instructed our participants on how to become authorized contractors and help our members apply for low-interest energy efficiency upgrade loans.

The late March training was very successful and well received. We will provide follow up training in partnership with WECC in July, gearing our efforts directly to members who live in mobile homes.