If you live in a mobile home community, you may already spend a fall weekend or two placing protective heat tape on any exposed plumbing beneath your mobile home and checking your home's skirting to ensure it's still in good shape. Unfortunately, in parts of the country susceptible to sub-zero winter temperatures, these measures may not be enough to shield you from high winter heating bills. Can installing new siding before the snow hits help save you money in the long run? Read on to learn more about how siding choices can affect your utility costs, as well as the best new siding options for your mobile home.
How much of a difference will new siding make when it comes to winter utility bills?
The insulation and conductivity of your siding can have a tremendous impact on the temperature within your home (and how hard your heater or air conditioner needs to work). One-quarter or more of the average home's wall surface consists of the wooden or metal studs that help your home maintain its shape. Since these studs can't themselves be insulated, they often serve as a conduit for cold outdoor air, even if the empty spaces between studs are filled with blow-in or spray foam insulation.
Because mobile homes are designed to be smaller, lighter, and less expensive than stick-built or site-built homes, they're more susceptible to heat loss during winter and the greenhouse effect during summer. As a result, you'll likely notice an even more significant difference in your heating costs by upgrading your mobile home's siding than you would if you were to install new siding on a site-built home.
What siding types are best for mobile homes?
The right siding type for your mobile home may largely depend on its sun exposure and the average monthly temperatures in your area. If you're in a part of the country where temperatures rarely rise high enough for you to take off your light jacket, you may benefit from a siding choice that can absorb sunlight and use this light to heat your home. Because siding directly exposed to the sun's rays can reach temperatures of up to 190 degrees, conductive siding should help you take advantage of this natural phenomenon. Insulated metal siding can absorb sunlight while providing a slow buildup of heat within the insulated area that will radiate through your home's walls.
However, in areas that experience very cold winters and very hot summers, a less-conductive surface with greater insulation should help provide year-round comfort. For mobile homes in these regions, insulated vinyl siding can be a cost-effective option. This siding looks like traditional vinyl siding, but it includes a plastic- or rubber-based liner beneath the outer surface that helps block air flow and retain heat.
After you've chosen a siding type, it's important to make sure your selected brand and style is appropriate for installation on a mobile home. Certain siding materials (especially wood and metal) can be heavy, and the relatively light and thin wood used to frame your home may not be up to the challenge of carrying a load of heavy siding. Fortunately, most insulated vinyl and metal siding is designed to be light enough for installation on a variety of home types.
When installing your new siding, you may also want to consider installing insulated skirting. Like insulated siding, this skirting contains an extra protective layer that will cut the wind and keep the cold outer temperatures from leaching heat away from your home. Depending upon the low temperatures in your area and the efficiency of the insulated skirting you select, you may be able to eliminate your need to apply heat tape to your pipes or take other steps to prevent them from freezing during frigid winter nights.