Experts from Efficiency Vermont proudly show off what they believe is the future of mobile homes in our region. Ten-inch thick insulated walls, self-sealing energy-efficient windows, Energy Star appliances and doors that lock in three places, making them airtight.
"We're brand new. This is our first product," said Chet Pasho of Vermod High Performance Manufactured Housing.
The home was built in White River Junction by Vermod, a private company that has partnered with the state on a new pilot program.
"We are trying to, you know, break away from the mobile home stereotype," Pasho said.
When Tropical Storm Irene swept through our region, it took a toll on mobile homes. That, in turn, created a need and an opportunity.
"People said, you know, we need to help people replace their homes, but can we do better than what's currently on the market," said Gus Seelig of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
Ten units will be built under the program, which will have a market price of about $100,000 each. Qualifying homeowners will receive a minimum of $30,000 in subsidies from a variety of sources, including private donors and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
"This would be both good for consumers and good for the state's efforts to address climate change and to address the durability of our housing stock," Seelig said.
The homes are actually a little more expensive than an average mobile home, but they are expected to create savings down the road in the form of lower energy bills. The pilot will determine exactly how much.
Joel Ferris is on board.
"It's a well-built home and I am glad to be the first one," Ferris said.
His electric bill is expected to drop from $200 a month to about $13 a month.
"It's really amazing," Ferris said. "It's like night and day."
It's estimated that 7 percent of Vermont's overall housing stock is made up of mobile homes, and while this project is not intended to change that number in the short term, the goal is to make those homes more durable and energy efficient for the long term.
Vermod officials say when the company is fully operating, it can produce three homes a month.
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