Boondocking in the desert in the winter can be a bit chilly. Just because it gets cold outside doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. Weekend RVers choose not to RV during the colder months because most RVs are not designed for winter weather. The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to stay warm in your RV while exploring winter wonderlands.
Staying warm in your RV when it’s cold outside
Get a Skirt
The first thing to invest in is an RV skirt. Skirting the RV will ensure that plumbing, battery bays, and other important components will stay insulated when the weather gets cold. If you find yourself in unexpected snow and you do not have a skirt, you can always pack snow around the battery bays to get the same effect. You should look into buying a skirt if you plan to travel all year round.
Plus any leaks
The next thing to do is check the RV for any air leaks. Check the rubber seals around slides, windows, and doors. Once these are sealed, you need to look around the inside for leaks and use insulated ‘snakes’ or painter’s tape to seal any leaks from within. There is no point in having a space heater to warm you when the hot air will be leaking out, so be sure to check for all leaks thoroughly before hitting the road.
RV windows lose the most heat no matter how insulated the manufacturer claims they are. You can add your own insulation to the RV windows with foil insulation, solar blankets, bubble insulation, and boards. You can also use heavy-weight thermal curtains for extra warmth during the really cold months. The floors are also where heat can escape from, so use as many rugs as you can along the floors to keep heat in.
Water and pipes
Water is another common enemy to RVers in the winter. Because water can freeze, you need to take special precautions with your water tanks and plumbing when traveling in colder weather. An RV skirt will help, but in addition to this, there are other things you can do.
- Mini space heaters can be used near the tanks to keep water temperatures above freezing.
- Use antifreeze in all plumbing and gray/black tanks.
- Make sure you insulate all pipes with heat tape if you choose to use water hookups.
- Never allow your black tank to freeze up. Use PVC piping for the sewer pipe as this has less chance of freezing as compared to other
- pipe materials.
Your RV furnace can be your best friend
Make sure your furnace is in top condition so it can keep you warm without wasting propane. In the evening you can set your furnace to low heat, around 53 degrees to create a nice base temperature. When you are under the covers, it does not need to be too high. In the morning you can increase the temperature slightly. This allows the most efficient use of propane, keeps you warm, and protects your sinuses from drying out, which can happen if the heat is high all night.
You can use an electric blanket during the day and the evening to warm yourself up. You can find 12V heating blankets on Amazon. I personally love the hot water bottle that I put in my bed before crawling in it on colder nights. Make sure you also pack warm clothes for the trip and keep some spares onboard for emergencies where you may need some extra layers. Keep sweatpants and sweatshirts on hand for staying cozy and always wear socks.
Cold and wet is a bad combination for you and your RV especially when there is more humidity in the air. When you have the heat on and have optimized insulation, too much heat indoors can cause condensation and this can cause mold. Having a dehumidifier on hand t run during the day will ensure that you keep the warm inside without the moisture. Vents are another great way to let air in and out to prevent the buildup of unwanted moisture.
Get a space heater
A good quality ceramic space heater will be one f your best investments when it comes to keeping your RV warm during the winter. The space heater will up the inside temperature slightly above the base level set by the furnace. Think of the space heater as your second level of heating and they are cheap to operate. You want to get a small heater because space will be limited, and ceramic is best as they have a better safety record. Be sure to get a heater with a built-in sensor so it turns off should it ever get knocked over. Space heaters are the best way to prevent you from over-using your furnace for heat but you need to be plugged into electricity to use it all night.
- Use saran wrap to cover your screen doors, so you can leave the doors open to get light in without letting cold air in too.
- Insulate your hatch vents too, especially if you plan to have them open to prevent moisture buildup.
- Use microfiber towels to wipe away any condensation you see.
- When parked, be sure to position your RV so that the windows and doors are facing the sun. This allows for as much natural heat as you can get from nature.
RVing is an adventure and can be enjoyed all year long. While summer months are more popular, there is much to see when you travel during colder months that you don’t want to miss out on. Take advantage of these heat-saving tips and keep yourself and your RV warm all winter long.