Manufactured homes – delivering powerful and personal impacts

February 24, 2019 by Rachel Krogman

Being a part of something that provides purpose and meaning in your everyday life is not something most people can say about their jobs. However, I am one of the lucky ones. Since 2016, Slipstream has been delivering a manufactured homes program for the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA), providing needed diagnostic and retrofit services to a customer base that traditional residential energy efficiency programs have overlooked. This program changes lives.

Most program participants have limited or fixed incomes and cannot afford the services on their own. In many cases, they are elderly, handicapped or veterans and often socially, physically or economically isolated. They live in housing stock that generally uses twice the energy per square foot than a similar framed home.

One of these program participants was an elderly gentleman living by himself with his dog in a home that needed a lot of help. During our inspection process, our implementation subcontractor discovered that the flooring, under the propane water heater, was damaged due to a bathroom water leak, resulting in the water heater exhaust flue disconnecting from the home’s chimney. The flooring also had several other holes. The occupant feared being evicted from his home and separated from his only remaining companion, his dog, if these issues were not addressed.

Slipstream’s subcontractor repaired the flooring; straightened the water heater; connected the water heater flue to the exhaust chimney; installed a plug-in electric carbon monoxide detector; installed two smoke detectors (with a supply of batteries); and conducted Combustion Air Zone testing on the propane water heater and heating unit. The rapport the subcontractor built with the customer initially gave him the comfort to allow the work team, but no one else, back into his home to make these additional repairs.

He made a point to thank all of us in a note. He wrote, “Very good crew! They were terrific! Again, they went beyond what I expected of them! I can't imagine any changes, what I experienced was so wonderful. To have someone VALUE ME in the manner they did. I really felt human and important! THANK YOU! I am very happy and can’t express how grateful, if I could hug you in person I would.”

In our experience, this man’s story is not uncommon. We have found the care, interest and time we devote to improving a participant’s living environment is often more than they have seen in many years. It can also be the only type of positive and personal intervention they see for a long time after we are gone.

In another situation, an elderly, limited-income couple occupied a “double-wide” manufactured home. For eight years they had consistently experienced no conditioned air coming out of any of the HVAC distribution system vents in one side of their home. They resorted to using four electric space heaters to help heat half of their manufactured home. This couple was in danger of losing their home due to extremely high electric energy bills.

Our implementation subcontractor also discovered that underneath the home much of the insulation under the floor was removed or hanging down, damage that appeared to have been caused by another contractor (not affiliated with our program, who had been there to work on a plumbing leak earlier in the year).

In addition, five cross-over ducts that flowed from one half of the home to the other were completely disconnected. The homeowners had relocated their manufactured home to a new trailer park eight years ago, and the cross-over ductwork had become disconnected during the move. Conditioned air had been pouring underneath the home rather than to the other half of the home.

This couple was in tears when they thanked our subcontractor for all the work that was completed. They wrote, “If this program had not come and found these issues and fixed them, our water pipes would have burst, and our electric bill would have been so high we would have lost our home and been homeless at 75 years of age.”

They were able to discontinue the use of four electric space heaters and greatly lower their energy bills. They could continue living in their home and have money to spend on other critical needs such as their prescriptions.

The solutions Slipstream can provide are more than just a “nice to have” for participants and very often a “must have,” producing powerful and personal impacts. These stories illustrate how important it is to have programs like these in place. They allow us to change lives and provide safer, more efficient homes and decreased energy bills.

Slipstream is actively expanding our manufactured homes program in additional states across the Midwest. For more information about our manufactured homes programs contact us at 800-969-9322.

You may also find this of interest…

Our research team conducted a field study of Minnesota’s manufactured homes to identify energy savings potential and help inform energy efficiency programs that will save residents money. Check out the webinar, infographic and final report.