VANCOUVER — New data from BC Hydro shows mobile homes, which are home to many elderly or low-come residents, have a significant energy disadvantage.
BC Hydro’s report titled Mobiles and megawatts: Why mobile homes use the most electricity found mobile homes use an average of 50 per cent more power per square foot than single family homes. The data showed while mobile homes are roughly the size of apartments, they burn through as much energy as a townhouse or duplex that is double their size.
B.C. has one of the highest concentrations of mobile home power consumers in the country. BC Hydro says it has more than 70,000 customers who live in mobile homes. The largest proportion is in the Southern Interior and more than 60 per cent of mobile home residents are seniors.
The study found much of the problem is due to limited insulation options and some inefficient heating and cooling behaviours. According to the study, about 20 per cent of the residents use portable space heaters as one of their heating sources which leads to far higher heating costs. Further, about 85 per cent open windows at least some of the time to help change their home’s temperature.
BC Hydro data also revealed that over half of mobile home residents – more than residents of any other dwelling type – keep cool in the summer by using cooling systems. This often is done using portable air conditioners, which use 10 times more energy than a central air conditioning system or a heat pump.
Researchers concluded that heating can account for up to 50 per cent of a BC Hydro bill in the colder months, so improving heating and insulation is the most impactful efficiency change.
The paper noted while 75 per cent of mobile home residents are interested in conserving electricity, they are unsure how to do so and are concerned it could be too expensive.
BC Hydro recommended the following:
- Taking advantage of rebates and incentives: BC Hydro offers home renovation rebates year-round to improve a home’s energy efficiency, including rebates up to $2,000 for upgrading windows and doors, and up to $2,000 for installing a heat pump – the most efficient way to cool in the summer and heat in the fall and winter.
- Enrolling in energy saving programs: BC Hydro offers the income qualified Energy Conservation Assistance Program and energy saving kits that provide advice and products to make energy-efficient home upgrades.
- Tracking electricity use: Use MyHydro to see how everyday actions like turning on a space heater affect electricity usage.
- Joining the team: Customers can sign up for Team Power Smart and commit to cutting electricity consumption by 10 per cent over the year, earning a $50 reward if successful.