RVs and wintertime do not mix well. Trust me, I know. Years ago when Miss Terry was being treated for cancer, we spent several weeks in Traverse City, Michigan during the winter, when snow piled up several feet deep around our motorhome, and the temperature dipped into the single digits every night.
At the time we had our Pace Arrow Vision, which we came to call the Motorhome From Hell, and it showed many of its shortcomings during that ordeal. We went through huge amounts of propane just trying to stay warm, and the best we ever managed was to take off the worst of the chill inside the RV.
Of course, the best way to deal with cold weather is to get as far south as you can go, before the snow falls. But just in case you find yourself stuck in cold weather, here are some tips that can make it more comfortable.
RV furnaces are notorious energy wasters. Just stand outside your RV the next time you have the furnace on and feel all of that heat blowing out the exhaust. That is wasted propane that you are paying for. Small electric cube heaters help a lot to ward off the cold, if you have sufficient electrical power to run them. We found that catalytic heaters such as the Olympian brand are great in an RV. They use much less propane than an RV furnace, and do not require 12 volt power to run a heater fan.
In a motorhome, the windshield conducts a lot of cold to the interior of the rig. Keeping the windshield covered with bubble foil can help reduce this. Foam inserts in the roof vent openings also helps keep the cold out.
Using some type of skirting material, be it plywood, plastic tarps, or even bales of hay to surround the bottom of the RV helps insulate from the ground up and makes a big difference inside.
The low temperature was not the only thing we had to contend with. In an occupied RV during cold weather, condensation quickly builds up inside, and it can create a real mess. Keeping a roof vent or windows open to circulate the air isn’t an option unless you want to freeze. We found that products like DampRid, which can be found at WalMart or Camping World, help a lot, but you can never completely eliminate the condensation problem. We spent a lot of time armed with towels, wiping down every glass or metal surface, and the interior walls of our motorhome.
Many RVs are supposed to have “winter packages,” which include heated plumbing bays, but in reality, a lot of them don’t come anywhere close to being able to handle really cold weather. We found that a clamp-on utility light with a metal reflector, which you can find at any hardware store, fitted with a 25 watt bulb, can keep a closed utility bay toasty warm and prevent pipes from freezing.
None of these ideas will make your RV feel like a sauna inside, but hopefully they will help keep you more comfortable if you have to spend time in very cold weather. But remember my own personal motto, and consider adopting it as your own: When it snows, Nick goes!
Thought For The Day – A bad worker always blames his tools.