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WSU Energy House Serves as a Technology Test Bed

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Mike Lubliner lives in one of the most energy-efficient manufactured homes in the United States. That’s only appropriate because Lubliner makes his living preaching residential energy conservation for Washington State University’s Cooperative Extension Energy Program.

The 2,600-square-foot Moduline Industries house he purchased four and a half years ago is well-insulated — R-21 in the walls, R-33 in the floor and R-38 to R-49 in the ceilings. It has foam core doors and vinyl low-E glass Energy Star-rated windows.

Mike Lubliner, a building energy efficiency expert with Washington State University Cooperative Extension's Energy Program in Olympia, practices what he preaches. His own home - painted crimson and gray - is a test bed for some of the latest energy conservation technology. Energy use is carefully monitored by the Energy Program under a U.S. Department of Energy Building America Program contract. Here he poses with his wife Kathy and daughter Nora. Click image for high resolution version.
Mike Lubliner, a building energy efficiency expert with Washington State University Cooperative Extension’s Energy Program in Olympia, practices what he preaches. His own home – painted crimson and gray – is a test bed for some of the latest energy conservation technology. Energy use is carefully monitored by the Energy Program under a U.S. Department of Energy Building America Program contract. Here he poses with his wife Kathy and daughter Nora. Click image for high resolution version.

Energy Star-rated appliances — dishwasher, refrigerator, washer and dryer — were added after market and all lights in the home are Energy Star- rated fluorescents. “I haven’t changed a light bulb since I’ve been here,” Lubliner said.

Energy Star is a voluntary labeling program for energy efficient appliances, lights and other products recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy.

Lubliner’s choice of exterior colors — crimson and gray — earned it the unofficial designation “WSU Energy House.”

He also incorporated some new technologies not in general use in manufactured housing.

The home has a mechanical ventilation system. “We use a systems engineering approach to evaluate the overall building and optimize the energy and indoor air quality,” he said.

The energy and heating, ventilating and air conditioning package added about $6,400 to the home’s cost, but power bills are about $900 per year less than comparable manufactured homes that meet minimum HUD standards.

The home is monitored and data analyzed by the WSU Energy Program under a U.S. Department of Energy Building America Program contract.

“The home has given me a hands-on appreciation for the pluses and minuses of some of these new technologies,” Lubliner said.

One of those technologies is a self-contained residential heat pump.

“Most residential heat pumps are split systems,” he said. “You’ve got an outdoor unit with a coil in it and a fan and then you have a refrigerant line that connects that unit to an indoor coil located inside our air handler. The Insider is self-contained, with the outside unit a part of the inside unit. The Insider’s source of outside air is the crawl space. We’ve been evaluating the noise and energy performance of this new technology.”

Lubliner is retrofitting a solar water heating system on the home to evaluate a concept called “solar ready.” “The manufacturer would ship a home pre-plumbed for solar panels with mounting hardware already on the roof so somebody could bolt down panels and do the installation if the owner decided to go solar later.”

“We added additional insulation to the ductwork in the crawl space and sealed some leaks with a mastic material. Some of the feedback on the ductwork tape failure has helped improve the Pacific Northwest’s Super Good Cents Manufactured Housing program’s specifications,” he said.

Lubliner is a member of a National Fire Protection Association and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineer committees that set building standards. “Some of my experience has gone into proposals to improve manufactured housing,” Lubliner said.

For more information on the Energy Program, visit http://www.energy.wsu.edu on the World Wide Web.

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Sound Files

Lubliner01.mp3 (295 kb)

Individual lifestyle can really make a difference in the amount of energy you use in your home says Mike Lubliner of the WSU Cooperative Extension Energy Program.

(31.5 sec.) … “more comfortable and saving energy.”

Lubliner02.mp3 (700 kb)

What steps can homeowners take now to cut their energy bills? Mike Lubliner of the WSU Cooperative Extension Energy Program suggests that homeowners inspect duct work, unplug little-used second refrigerators and buy Energy Star appliances and technologies.

(45 sec.) … “can go a long way in reducing your long-term energy bills.

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