A new partnership will enable the country's largest retailer of manufactured homes to make them energy-efficient.
"We saw an opportunity to bring added value to our customers at a time when just about everybody needs it the most," said Brandon O'Connor, i-House product manager for Clayton Homes. "Winter's getting cold, heating bills are rising, and if we can bring an Energy Star home at no extra cost to our customers, saving them, on average, $70 a month, that's huge, and we saw that as a great opportunity to do good to them, and we partnered with TVA to bring it to life."
Clayton Homes is teaming up with the Tennessee Valley Authority to manufacture homes that are more efficient and quality for the Energy Star label.
From now on, every home Clayton manufactures in TVA's region will be Energy-Star qualified, and TVA will chip in $1,450 per house to help make it happen.
"Not only are we helping customers have lower bills, we're also, at the end of the day, providing cleaner energy for the overall Tennessee Valley," said John Trawick, TVA's senior vice president of commercial operations and pricing. "If we can have a customers use less energy, that actually is more cost-effective than us generating power that's more expensive, it benefits everybody."
The homes will have better insulation, upgraded windows, programmable thermostats, compact fluorescent lighting, heat pumps and Energy Star appliances.
Trawick says customers should save around 30 percent per year on their power bills.
"We're going to save, on average, about $70 a month, which, throughout the year, would equate to roughly $1.5 million in savings for our customers this year alone," O'Connor said.
Perhaps because of the added cost of building an energy-efficient home, Clayton has only manufactured about 150 Energy Star-qualified homes since 2002.
But, with this new partnership in place, Clayton expects to produce more than 2,000 homes this year and thereafter.
"At a time when our customers could utilize the savings the most, we're really, really happy to bring that savings to them," O'Connor said.
Trawick says, when it comes to TVA, the initial cost will lead to eventual savings for the power company as well. He says TVA should recoup the costs for each home in just three years.
"The revenues that we collect from customers across the Tennessee Valley go to fund these kinds of programs, but again, what we find is they're actually cheaper to do these programs than to go generate electricity from some of our power plants," he said. "That means less emissions from our power plants, which means cleaner air, and it means less cost to everybody as well, so not only do the customers who are in these homes benefit, but also the other customers across the Tennessee Valley benefit because we won't have to use as expensive power to generate power for everybody."
The Systems Building Research Alliance
, or SBRA, helped to come up with the concept for TVA and Clayton.