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Prototype super-efficient manufactured home built in Bothell

The Norahun family was the recipient of a prototype home built by Habitat for Humanity in Bothell.  - Contributed
The Norahun family was the recipient of a prototype home built by Habitat for Humanity in Bothell.
— image credit: Contributed

Puget Sound Energy, Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County and Bonneville Power Administration built a new, high-performance manufactured home for a family in Bothell.

The prototype home incorporates some of the latest energy-saving features and technology, including a ductless heat pump, heat pump water heater, efficient lighting, triple-glazed windows, foam sheathing on exterior walls and added insulation.

“Manufactured homes built to this new high-performance spec have durability and performance features that could change opinions about factory-built homes and be an integral part of our super-efficient 21st century utility system,” said Christopher Dymond, senior product manager with Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, an alliance of more than 140 Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations.

While the prototype may represent the manufactured home of the future, the Norahun family is simply excited to call it home.

“We can’t wait to see our new home for the first time and learn more about its unique features,” said Tesfaye Norahun. “We’re so happy that we’ll finally have a home to call our own, but also that it won’t cost us a lot of money to run and maintain.”

The Norahuns are purchasing the home through Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County’s affordable homeownership program.

“We are excited to be a part of this project as it fits very closely with our commitment to being a responsible, sustainable and affordable home builder,” said Kirk Utzinger, Habitat Seattle-King County CEO.

BPA, NEEA, Northwest electric utilities and other partners are collaborating with nine Northwest-based manufactured home builders to demonstrate the benefits of a higher standard for newly constructed manufactured homes and assist each manufacturer in their design. A manufactured home built to an advanced high-performance specification can save up to 50 percent on heating and cooling costs when compared to typical manufactured homes.

“Beyond more affordable electric bills for the homeowner, the goal is to establish a new minimum building standard for manufactured homes,” said Bob Stolarski, director of customer energy management, Puget Sound Energy. “Which means buyers will get a higher quality, more comfortable and more energy efficient home.”

There are about a half a million manufactured homes in the Northwest and more than 200,000 in Washington state. Since about 20 percent were made before the current construction standards (pre-1994 HUD), a more energy-efficient option could help PSE, BPA and other Northwest electric utilities meet future energy conservation goals. Estimates suggest that an uptake of high-performance manufactured homes in the thousands could translate to long-term energy savings of 20 average megawatts, which is enough electricity to power nearly 15,000 Northwest homes for an entire year.

“This new high-performance home creates a ‘good/better/best’ option in the manufactured home market,” said Mark Johnson, residential energy conservation specialist at BPA. “And a new minimum building standard could deliver tremendous energy savings for decades to come.”

The entry of new, super-efficient models could also reinvigorate a relatively stale manufactured home market.

“Manufacturers and retailers are excited about these new homes,” said Brady Peeks with Northwest Energy Works, Inc., an organization under contract with BPA that’s helping manufacturers systemize their building process of new high-performance homes. “And we expect consumers will be too, especially those who want to conserve energy and are concerned about their carbon footprint.”

The Bothell home is one of four completed prototypes. Three others have been sited in Toledo, Wash. (Lewis County Public Utility District), Pullman, Wash. (Avista Corp.) and Otis, Ore. (PacifiCorp). And another four homes are expected to be sited throughout the region in the next few months.

The project is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction” program. Other partners include Community Frameworks, Ecotope, Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star New Homes Program, Manufactured Housing Associations and Washington State University.

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