Britain’s draughty homes are poorly insulated, leaking heat and using up energy meaning that not only is the UK’s population paying a high price for inefficient heating in their homes, but so is our environment. Housing in the UK is amongst the least energy efficient in the whole of Europe and running them accounts for nearly a quarter of our total annual carbon emissions. As a result, this has driven a lot of focus from both Government and the private sector to find ways to help reduce household bills (especially with the recent hikes in energy prices), reduce carbon emissions and to make people’s homes warmer and a more pleasant places to live.
For instance, Age UK is proposing a programme of home improvements which will start by focussing on the least energy efficient houses in the UK. Furthermore, The Green Deal was introduced at the beginning of last year which encourages householders to take out loans to cover the cost of making their homes more energy efficient. However, this ‘revolutionary’ scheme hasn’t been taken up like the Government initially thought. The Government wanted a total of 10,000 homes to be transformed with the scheme for 2013, but official figures reveal that there was not one live Green Deal for the first half of the year, despite 241 households agreeing to proceed with the financing.
So with the government plans not working the way they thought, the question is what other alternatives could help Britain’s housing become more energy efficient?
Well, the new generations of manufactured homes such as mobile homes and park homes are much more energy efficient, therefore perhaps the UK would benefit from more of this type of housing. This is supported by research carried out by the U.S Department of Energy where they discovered that this type of housing can save 55 per cent of energy compared to a house without energy efficient materials and appliances.
However, many people are put off the idea of living in manufactured housing because of its history and the idea that working class and underprivileged people live in mobile homes giving its name of “trailer trash”. Unfortunately some people still associate mobile housing with this negative connotation, when actually this is far from the truth today. They don’t look like “trailers” anymore and are nicer and more spacious than people realise, often with 2-3 bedrooms as well as a fully equipped living space, kitchen and dining area.
More importantly, they are built to minimise the potential environmental impact of people’s activities and to prevent damage to the environment. For example, Omar Homes provide mobile homes and park homes which are built with already installed air to water heat pumps, solar photovoltaic panels and ground source heat pumps.
The U.S has already seen the enormous benefits of manufactured housing and according to the BBC, mobile homes now make up a total of 6.4% of the US housing sector with a predicted 20 million Americans living in them. If the UK acknowledged the benefits of introducing more mobile homes and park homes in the same way that the US has, then it could have a significant positive effect on our environment.
By Laura Harrison
Edited by Helen Kinsella
Image sourced: Muffinggtagsenergy efficient homesmanufactured housingmobile homes