Report: Mobile homes’ design leads to higher electricity costs for thousands
A new BC Hydro report finds many finds British Columbians living in mobile homes – many of whom are elderly or low-income – are at an energy disadvantage compared to other home types.
The report titled “Mobiles and megawatts: Why mobile homes use the most electricity” [PDF, 109 KB] finds the average mobile home uses 50 per cent more electricity per square foot than the average single-family home. While the size of mobile homes is similar to most apartments, their overall energy use is closer to that of townhouses or duplexes with nearly double the square footage.
Over 70,000 BC Hydro customers live in mobile homes – one of the highest concentrations in Canada. The largest proportion is located in the Southern Interior and more than 60 per cent of B.C.’s mobile home residents are over the age of 60.
A recent survey found limited insulation options and some inefficient heating and cooling behaviours are large contributors to higher electricity use in mobile homes. About 20 per cent of mobile home residents use portable space heaters as one of their heating sources – one of the most expensive ways to heat a home. Further, about 85 per cent open windows at least some of the time to help regulate temperature swings in their homes.
BC Hydro data also shows more than half of mobile home customers use a cooling system in the summer – this is higher than other dwelling types. Many use portable air conditioners, which use 10 times more energy than a central air conditioning system or a heat pump. Heating can account for up to 50 per cent of a BC Hydro bill in the colder months, so improving heating and insulation is the most impactful efficiency change.
While 75 per cent of those living in mobile homes are interested in conserving electricity and saving money, many are concerned with how much that it will cost or do not know where to start. There are a number of rebates, programs and tools available to help customers save energy and money, and BC Hydro recommends:
- Taking advantage of rebates and incentives: BC Hydro offers home renovation rebates year-round to improve a home’s energy efficiency, including rebates up to $2,000 for upgrading windows and doors, and up to $2,000 for installing a heat pump – the most efficient way to cool in the summer and heat in the fall and winter.
- Enrolling in energy saving programs: BC Hydro offers the income qualified Energy Conservation Assistance Program and energy saving kits that provide advice and products to make energy-efficient home upgrades.
- Tracking electricity use: Use MyHydro to see how everyday actions like turning on a space heater affect electricity usage.
- Joining the team: Customers can sign up for Team Power Smart and commit to cutting electricity consumption by 10 per cent over the year, earning a $50 reward if successful.
For more information on how to save, visit bchydro.com/winterbills.
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468
 The survey was conducted by BC Hydro using a sample of customers living in mobile homes. The survey was in field from Sept. 18 to Sept. 23.
 BC Hydro 2020 Residential End-Use Study – cooling