I have an old trailer in southern Illinois, and my electric/gas bill was $211 for this month. Compared to the summer when it was only $100. I have plastic on the windows and a skirt around the outside. Is there any way to cut this cost and keep my trailer warmer?
DJ from Illinois
I live in a mobile home also. I purchased 1 of those portable tower "heaters". Mine even came with a remote and is programmable to shut off by itself. I bought mine at WalMart for under $40. I was able to turn my theromostat down quite a bit. I've seen a large reward in my electric bill. We've been in the 20's at times here this winter. Merry Christmas (12/18/2008)
I too live in a mobile home. But, I won't even call it a mobile home. It's really just a tiny old trailer, (a 1981) so it's old and drafty! (But at least it's paid for!) Here's some of the things that have helped me. Some I've already done and some I'm going to do. A little at a time as money allows!
RUGS and THICK PADS: Put rugs everywhere, the kitchen, bathroom, over wall to wall carpeting and hung up inside on the outside facing walls. Use a 1x 2 behind the top of the rug and be sure to find the studs if its a large rug! Also, use rug pads for even more insulation. The best insulating rugs are made from 100% wool, but any rug will help, synthetic is better than cotton. Cotton rugs do NOT last!... Bu used rugs at thrifts shops and yard sales then wash them with shampoo, a sponge mop and the hose during the summer or buy them on sale at import and liquidation stores. I bought 2 ($600) 100% wool sample rugs at home depot last summer for only $60 each! ... They were discontinuing their sample and getting new ones.
RIGID FOAM INSULATION: This comes in a 4' x 8" sheets and in different thickness. (It looks like foam board for crafting, but larger and thicker) You cut it with a jigsaw, an electric carving knife or (not as good) with a box knife and a yard stick. It comes in different thickness from half inch to 2 inches thick and in-between, it cost around $10 per large sheet. which can do about 2 windows. Put it inside your window-well or outside in your window-well with plastic over it. I like tablecloth plastic (sold by the yard) in Walmart or fabric stores. I also used a dollar store shower curtain that matched the color of my trailer so you don't see the foam-board insulation behind the clear plastic. I put foam insulation inside and outside my VERY large picture windows (followed by plastic) in my craft room and now I can heat the room up using only my body heat and the light bulbs in the room! I'm not kidding, even when it's 20 degrees or less outside, it's still warm in there with NO heater on and the door to the trailer shut, at least now that I've put the foam in the windows it's warm! Last year (before the foam) I had to constantly run a space heater in there. But on the down side, you will have to give up your outside light because you can't see through the Styrofoam. But if you don't want to stop light from getting in, then only use the foam insulation on the bottom and use clear bubble-wrap on the top half of your windows. (or just bubblewrap) With the bubblewrap, you won't be able to see out, but the light will still filter in and you'll have super-insulated windows! (and just think of how much heat we loose through our windows!) You won't need much to hold the bubblewrap up because the moisture from the window will probably do the trick... If not, then buy some of those tiny clear suction cups at the dollar store and suction the cup to the window then poke the wire on the suction cup through the back of the bubblewrap. Put the suction cups here and there and especially at the 4 corners.
THICK CURTAINS: Hang washable old Blankets or Quilts, or a piece of thick washable fabric under your curtains with thumb tacks or push-pins, or at least hang rolling blinds under your curtains. If you just have mini-blinds then you can still add rolling blinds under them to help keep out drafts. The blankets will help insulate your windows where most of your power is being lost. You can also attach mylar, bubble-wrap (see below) or plastic bags to your windows and the moisture will make them stick. If you are going to hang blankets from the thrift shop, the bags will help the blankets not get wet. But the best thing is to sew your own insulating curtains. They make a special curtain-backing you can buy or order at fabric stores that you back the fabric of your choice with, but you can make your own and it consists of a mylar or plastic backing (that goes next to the window) then a fleece type of thicker fabric and that is followed by a thin quilt batting. Then you can add another layer of plastic or mylar, then lastly, you'd add your fabric of choice. This last layer of fabric is what you'd see in your room. I'd recommend "Construction Bags" as the best plastic to sew with. These are available at Walmart. They are huge, thick bags for job sites. They are much thicker and larger than any other bags you can buy.
PAINT ADDITIVES: These were developed by NASA and they are hollow ceramic spheres that are added to paint. Some are in a powered form and some are liquid. The powered kind are usually cheaper and will take the color of your paint down one notch and make it a bit lighter. The powered kind will also take the sheen down a notch too (example: from gloss to semi-gloss or from semi-gloss to eggshell, from eggshell to flat, etc.) * In tests they say this NASA type of paint additive will give your walls 20% - 30% more insulation. I suggest you buy the powered type that you add to paint. (not the liquid paint) It's less expensive. Unless you've got lots of cash "ha-ha", I'd do just a little bit at a time, like first paint the ceiling, then the outside walls in one room then later when you get some more $, do some more outside walls, etc... see this URL: http://www.thermilate.com/heattransfer/
MORE INFO: http://www.nansulate.com/energy_efficient_diy_insulation.htm?gclid=COrMsputzJcCFRqgnAodsUQT7g
POWERED KIND: http://www.greenandmore.com/energy-efficient-insulating-additive-paints.html
FLORESCENT LIGHTBULBS: Put new florescent swirl lightbulbs in all of your lights. If you can't afford Tthe cost, then at least put them in the lights you use the most or tend to leave on. For example, for us we tend to leave our hall light on and our kitchen light. Also be sure to put low wattage lights in your front and back porch lights! Our power company gives florescent bulbs away free. I just go to home depot and there's a coupon you use at the register. All you have to pay is the tax. Call you local power company and ask about it and also ask Home Depot if they have coupons for free florescent bulbs too!
FOAM OUTLET COVERS: these go behind each outlet on an outside walls to stop the cold and drafts... Go ahead and put you hand on an outside facing wall where the outlets or lightswitches are, you'll be amazed at how cold they feel!
NEW WEATHER STRIPING: If you can see daylight in the crack (by the side of the door or window), you need new weather stripping. After I added new weather striping to my outside door in my craft room it made all the difference!
DRAFT "SNAKES": Sew or buy those fabric snakes filled with sand or that you put at the foot of your doors to keep the drafts out.
NEW FURNACE FILTERS: Buy a new furnace filter ever 3 months. This way the furnace is more efficient because the dust isn't clogging it.
FURNACE CHECKUP: IF you have your furnace cleaned, adjusted and serviced once a year it will pay for itself in efficiency.
LOWER HOT WATER HEATER. Most of us can turn down our water heaters to save power.
SHOWERS: Turn off the shower while you're shaving your legs or conditioning your hair and if you have a teenager, set a timer in the bathroom so they'll take shorter showers.
LESS LAUNDRY: If you have kids especially teenagers, buy them each their own colored towel and tell them you'll only wash it once a week so don't leave it laying around on the floor!
TURN OF TV: We all know that besides all the heating appliances like the Dryer, Oven and Furnace that the TV is next in line for how much power is used. And don't forget to turn off your computer when not in use, especially if you have an old fashioned box type monitor like I do.
TOASTER OVENS and MICROWAVE: Why heat up the big oven if you can use the toaster oven and why waste power boiling water on the stove for one cup of tea when you can just use the microwave which uses much less power.
POWER STRIPS: Your cable box, TV, DVR, coffee maker and microwave all use power even when they aren't on... They just keep on sucking and sucking from the meter a little at a time. If you hook your small appliances up to a power strip then you can turn them COMPLETELY off.
KEEP A WARM SWEATER HANDY: In our house we each have several "fuzzy jackets" I picked up at the thrift store. I like them because they can be thrown in the washer and dryer. They are thick comfy jackets made from berber-fleece for wearing around the house and we find they help us not turn up the thermostat as much if we keep them handy and instead put them on. I like to keep one on the back of my computer.
KEEP A LAP BLANKET BY YOUR COMPUTER: I get cold when I'm on the computer so I like to use my lap blanket instead of turning on the furnace and heating the whole house.
HEAT ONLY ONE ROOM: If you're home by your self, why heat the whole house? I'll just use a space heater in my room when I'm in there watching TV instead of using the furnace. Or even better, I'll use my electric blanket or my comfy-warm down quilt instead!
TURN THE HEAT OFF AT NIGHT: We turn our heat off at night, or at least turn it WAAAY down to almost off (just high enough so the pipes don't freeze) then we each bundle up with our warm blankets. I seem to sleep better when my old and loud furnace isn't going on and off all night long anyway. If you have kids, tuck a warm hot-water bottle at the foot of their bed under their blankets. This will help keep their "tootsies" warm.
INSULATE UNDER YOUR TRAILER: If you can afford it next summer, it would pay for itself to insulate under the trailer or at least inside the skirting. That's why I told you to hang rugs or the wall and to use extra rugs on the floor.
PET DOOR COVER: Do you have a kitty or doggie door? I do, and It made all the difference when I made a cover for my cat-door! ... I glued 2 mouse pads then glues 2 pieces of funfoam ($1 store) to the mouse pads and after the very last piece of foam (the back) I glued 6 magnets then put a last layer of foam over the magnets. The way it works is I put the mouse pads right up next to the cat's door then the magnets stick to the metal door.... I usually only put it on the door when I know the cat is sleeping or down for the night, but he knows how to take the cover off by himself. If he wants to remove the draft-cover all he does is take his paw and pull on the cover and it flops on the floor... If he's outside and wants in, he can push his head through the cover and the magnets flop off. IF you don't have a metal door, then I suggest you use magnetic tape on the door so the magnets have something to hold on to. For more info about how to make this pet-door cover send me a note.
FREE WINTERIZING: In our area, our power company offers a free winterizing program for low income homeowners. They send you some paperwork to fill out and they call you to make an appointment, then they come to your home and tell you what you can do to winterize your home and some of it they will do for you for free, like putting plastic on the windows. In other states they have free winterizing kits (with outlet covers, weather striping and window plastic) for low income families. If you think you may be eligible, call your power company and ask.
I also live in a 1984 trailer and one of things you can do is to take your register vents out and check for drafts, believe me, you will find a lot of them. When your trailer shifts like it does in zone 5, your heat runs will split. Duct tape or caulk them.
I also fill old soup cans and put them inside the heat runs, to add moisture to the rooms. I also plan when i am going to use hot water, and flip off the circuit breaker when I am not going to use it. This will lower your energy use considerably. Good luck, it is an ongoing struggle. (12/21/2008)
The first poster had some great ideas, but let me add my 2 cents. It is not enough to just turn off the TV, computer, DVD, etc. The BEST thing to do is unplug them, because as long as they are plugged in they are "energy vampires". Their are power strips that allow you to turn on an off the power supply to a few different appliances at a time. The power strips are a bit on the pricey side initially, but in the long run, they are easier than plugging and unplugging things and they will pay for themselves. I use my cell phone as an alarm in the morning and so don't have an alarm clock plugged in all day long.
One other suggestion is to make sure your vents are not blocked by furniture, etc. so the heat can flow easily and also close the doors to your rooms. It will help keep heat contained.
Lower your thermostat during the day when you are not home and them turn it up when you get home.
I turn off the stove burners a couple of minutes before I am done cooking and find that the burners stay warm long enough to complete cooking times efficiently.
As another investment- there are individual solar panels that would generate enough power to run a space heater and so that - although a larger outlay of money initially, can be used to help offset turning the heat lower as well as you can use the solar panel any other time of year to run other things.
Hope this helped. I, too lived in an old, cold mobile home - and the heat pump was not that efficient.
Good luck to you. (12/21/2008)
Oops - one more thing - make yourself a "rice sock" you take an long sock - fill it with dry rice (I buy the dollar store kind) then tie a knot or sew the end of the sock.
You heat this in a microwave for a minute or so and whn you take it out -it;s like a hot water bottle to keep your hands or feet warm. Its also good for aches and pains you put it on the area that hurts. If you sew, you can make it with spare fabric or and old shirt too. (12/21/2008)
First off, than you for the wonderful advice above. That took a lot of time, and you are nice to help out. I have even pasted and copied it, to serve as a hand out for the energy assistance people I help.
Yes, those heaters are wonderful. They run on recycled oil, so they can't combust and are completely renewable.
I can also suggest electric blankets, battery powered heated massaging chair pads, and even battery powered sock! Keeping the body warm is more important than keeping the air around you warm. Wrap all your pipes, keep the under the sink doors open in the kitchen and bathroom, and see if your eleactric company can do an equal pay. This allows you to pay the same all year. That way, you are paying less in the winter when the bills are high, and more in the summer when the bills are low...but the bill is the same amount each month.
One last thing, if you can, tear off the skirting and put some bales of straw underneath. See if the local energy assistance folks can come out and crawl under the trailer. Chances are, your bellyboard (the support for the insulation underneath the trailer) is compromised by critters or just time.
Good luck! (12/21/2008)
We in the north see where the heat loss is in winter. Driving past mobile-home parks you can see the heat rising from the roofs. An insulated roof is the way to go if you can afford it. I've seen the odd one where a separate roof has been added with side supports to the ground. (12/21/2008)
When I opened the walls of the trailer I was living in, I found that rodents had made all the insulation sink to the bottom foot or so of the wallspace. No wonder the house got so cold so fast when the woodstove slowed down! (12/22/2008)
Add your voice! Click below to comment. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!