According to industry experts interviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation, the Biden administration’s forthcoming regulations, which impose more stringent energy efficiency standards on mobile homes, will hurt low-income homebuyers while failing to reduce emissions significantly.
Scheduled to be implemented on May 31, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) rules aim to update insulation and sealing requirements, among other efficiency standards, for mobile homes, formally known as manufactured homes.
The DOE estimates these changes could save the average consumer between $177 and $475 per year on utilities.
A costly burden on low-income homebuyers
However, they would also raise the average price of manufactured homes by $4,100 to $4,500.
As the Manufactured Housing Institute reported, this cost increase would disproportionately affect low-income homebuyers, as the median household income for manufactured homeowners is $35,000.
New regulations boast a promising future for the climate
Jonathan Lesser, an expert from the Manhattan Institute, argues that while the new rules may reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the effect is negligible compared to the overall emissions in the United States.
Lesser cites the DOE’s estimates, stating that over 30 years, the regulations will reduce CO2 emissions by 80.4 million metric tons.
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New regulations have a negligible impact on the environment
However, according to the 2022 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, US energy-related CO2 emissions totaled 4.7 billion metric tons in 2022.
Therefore, the reduction achieved by the new rules is equivalent to just 150 hours of US emissions in 2022. Lesser concludes that the impact on climate will be zero.
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Increased prices lead to declining home sales
Simultaneously, the increased prices resulting from the regulations will further impede the affordability of homeownership, which is already at a near-record low.
E.J. Antoni, an economist from the Heritage Foundation, highlights that although home prices experienced a slight decrease in March, they remain significantly higher than historical averages.
When combined with elevated mortgage rates, these factors contribute to declining home sales, as the National Association of Realtors noted.
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Increased upfront costs for lower-income families
Antoni further explains that the upfront costs of purchasing a home for lower-income families will rise due to the DOE rule.
However, newer generations of heating and cooling equipment will likely be available when these additional costs are recovered, using less energy.
As a result, the projected energy savings over the home’s lifespan will not be as substantial as anticipated.
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Regulations will save money on utilities, benefit the environment – Granholm
Contrary to these concerns, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm argues that the regulations will save homeowners money on utilities while benefiting the environment.
In the agency’s press release finalizing the rule, Granholm states, “The rules will hold manufacturers of these U.S. homes to cost-saving efficiency standards, giving residents more comfortable living environments and a much-needed break on their annual utility costs while delivering cleaner air for their communities.”
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MHI and THMA challenge compliance date in court
The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and the Texas Manufactured Housing Association (THMA) filed a lawsuit in February, challenging the one-year compliance date because it was “arbitrary, capricious, and impracticable.”
The organizations also alleged that the DOE needed to consult with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and did not adequately consider the balance between manufactured home affordability and energy efficiency.
Lesli Gooch, CEO of the MHI, expressed a desire to collaborate with the DOE and HUD to find a feasible and affordable solution but emphasized that legal action was the only option available without clarity from the DOE.
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