Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Jon Tester (D-MT) asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to determine whether improving the energy efficiency of older manufactured housing or replacing it with newer, more energy-efficient models would save the federal government money by reducing Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments. Approximately 2 million manufactured homes were built before 1976, when new energy efficiency standards were implemented.
An August 24 GAO letter to the senators does not directly answer the question, but points out that authorizing statute prohibits using LIHEAP for new construction, which includes replacing existing homes.
GAO’s letter does provide analysis of data from 2005, the most recent available.
- Occupants of older manufactured homes paid more than twice as much on average per square foot for energy than occupants of detached homes, at $1.75 per square foot compared to $0.87.
- Annual energy expenditures for older manufactured homes, which average 906 square feet, were about $1,369. Expenditures for detached homes, which average 2,919 square feet, were about $2,060.
- LIHEAP provided more assistance on a per square foot basis to occupants of older manufactured homes than to those of detached homes, at $0.33 per square foot compared to $0.20 per square foot.
- LIHEAP assistance covers 15% of the annual energy expenditures of occupants of older manufactured homes, compared to 17% for occupants of detached homes.
- Approximately 3% ($57 million) of 2005 LIHEAP funds assisted occupants of older manufactured homes.