NEEM News, Utility Edition: Manufactured Homes Belong in Every Utility’s Energy Efficiency Programs
The weather is changing and bringing a close to what has been a spectacular Northwest summer. Now it is time to start preparing for next year’s utility conservation program offerings. Bonneville Power Administration’s new Implementation Manual is out, and the new year is all too close at hand. That means now is the time to be looking at adding incentives for new manufactured homes to your utility’s program offerings, if you don’t already have them in place.
The Northwest Energy Efficient Manufactured Housing Program (NEEM) is the ENERGY STAR certifier for the region’s factory home builders. The beauty of the NEEM program is that it delivers dependable, long-measure life energy savings throughout the region. The homes get placed on rural properties and as infill projects inside city limits. With construction costs as low as half that of site-built homes, manufactured homes deliver unsubsidized affordable housing, appealing to home buyers of modest means, those with growing families and those looking to downsize while still “living large” on a fixed retirement budget.
This year is on track to see some 2,400 manufactured homes built and certified by NEEM as ENERGY STAR. We are also seeing a small, but increasing number of homes that achieve the new ENERGY STAR with NEEM+plus certification. NEEA is working with NEEM to help bring the NEEM+ package to market, and incentives offered by some 92 utilities across the region help convince home buyers to step up to ENERGY STAR or beyond.
The NEEM staff regularly hear from home retailers that utility incentives go a long way toward selling the ENERGY STAR option. They report that when buyers see how many utilities agree that the option is a worthwhile investment, they say yes to ENERGY STAR certification. NEEM’s Utility Participation List gives credibility akin to the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” that give sales people the confidence they need to bring up the topic of energy efficiency with buyers.
From time to time a utility might report to NEEM staff that they are considering dropping incentives for ENERGY STAR manufactured homes, due to low program uptake. However, that’s a reason to keep the incentive in place! We know that salespeople bring up the ENERGY STAR option to buyers when they know there is a good likelihood of an applicable utility incentive. Just having utilities on the NEEM Utility Incentive LIst leads to ENERGY STAR purchases. When customers buy ENERGY STAR, they are benefiting the utility by reducing the amount of “ugly load” they introduce to the utility’s distribution system by way of electric furnace heat calls during the coldest winter periods.
We know that many home buyers do not follow through with submitting utility incentive applications. We suspect that the long and complicated home purchase process gets in the way, in that buyers believe the incentive was credited to them on one of the myriad forms they signed in escrow. If a utility wants to claim more of the savings from the ENERGY STAR option sales that their incentive helped secure, NEEM recommends sharing some of the incentive money with the salesperson. For a couple hundred dollars, a utility can be sure that sales people will go out of their way to help their customers fill out and turn in utility incentive application forms.
The NEEM Team invites utilities to contact us for more information about the NEEM program. We can supply “Likely Homes” reports of ENERGY STAR manufactured homes sold into ZIP codes served by a given utility. This can help with planning potential budget impacts, or it can help facilitate home buyer follow up. Do remember to notify the NEEM program of incentives offered or changes to programs, because we do go out there and promote utility programs. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-370-3277.
The bottom line: Please add your utility to the list by offering incentives for NEEM-certified ENERGY STAR and ENERGY STAR with NEEM+plus manufactured homes.