Keeping Mobile Homes Out of Reach
New regulations sacrifice housing affordability on the altar of climate change.
Amid surging home prices, mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes, provide an alternative for 22 million Americans at a fraction of the cost of a typical single-family house.
The federal government wants to close off this option. The Department of Energy proposed a new rule last month that increases the costs of mobile homes by nearly $5,000, or up to 10 percent of their current price. This will put housing further out of the reach of the poorest Americans.
The new rule, aimed at promoting energy efficiency, imposes stringent new standards on everything from insulation to water heaters to air ducts. The Department of Energy says that these standards will save hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs. This argument has fundamental flaws. For one, it assumes that consumers don’t consider energy savings when buying a home, so the government must force them to do so. In fact, decades of economics research show that consumers already calculate energy costs when making purchases. The government isn’t magically providing consumers “savings”; it is merely forcing them to buy more expensive things using less energy than they otherwise would.