Winter seems to be knocking down the door early this year! RVers all across the country are feeling it and some, because they’re unprepared, are literally left out in the cold! Because RVs are not built to the extent of a sticks and bricks home, cold weather can really become an issue if you’re not prepared or really don’t know how to keep the cold out.
But even if you’re too late on some of these tips, you still should do them to maximize the heating in your motorhome, fifth wheel, travel trailer or even camper van.
SERVICE YOUR FURNACE
Before cold weather hits, we advise you to test out your furnace and have it serviced annually. Check the area around the outside vents for spider webs and other pests. Ensure your propane tanks are full and the selector valve is ready to go. Inspect any visible wiring to make sure mice or pests haven’t chewed through them.
VACUUM FURNACE VENTS
This goes along with having your furnace serviced above. Since RV furnace vents are on the floor, they seemingly are endless collectors of dust, small stones, pet hair, cat toys, hair ties, etc. Remove your vent cover, wash with hot soapy water and dry. While it’s drying, vacuum out your vents and reach your hose as far down as possible. However, be careful not to puncture the metallic hose that leads to the furnace. After you’re all finished, replace your vent covers and voila!
PULL YOUR WINDOW SHADES
I don’t mean your sexy sunglasses. I’m talking about your RV’s window shades.
In our Heartland Landmark 365, we have dual pane windows which are a Godsend in extremely warm or cold outside temps. However, most low-end campers or older coaches aren’t equipped with them so the you may notice less heat efficiency. Even so, we pull our shades in the evenings when its cold outside. They’re not just for privacy or making it dark so you can nap or watch a cool movie in the daytime. They also act as an insulating barrier keeping some of the cold air from coming in.
CLOSE YOUR CLOSETS AND CABINET DOORS
If you’ve ever opened your cabinets, pantry or closet, you’ll notice that they are colder inside than the rest of your coach. Your cabinets and doors actually act as an insulating barrier so keep them closed in cold weather (or hot!).
We do want to add in a caveat though. If you’re expecting extreme low temperatures, we recommend you keep your cabinet doors to your plumbing open to allow the warm air to help keep the pipes and joints from freezing.
UTILIZE YOUR CEILING FAN
Your ceiling fan helps circulate the air in your RV living space. Since your furnace vents are on the floor, you’ll want to adjust your fan’s direction to pull the warm air up.
CLOSE YOUR AC CEILING VENTS
Just like an S&B (Sticks & Bricks house), closing off rooms conserves and concentrates the airflow in the area that you want it. If you spend time in your kitchen and living area, close the bedroom and bathroom door This will help concentrate the heat to the desired spaces in your RV that you want it.
RV TIP: See those AC vents in the pic above? We replaced our former vents with Spaceport AC closable ceiling vents. What a difference! We can even turn them to directionalize airflow.
ENJOY YOUR ELECTRIC FIREPLACE
A lot of fifth wheels, campers and motorhomes are being equipped with luxurious electric fireplaces. And, they aren’t just for aesthetics! Most have a temperature control. If you’re hooked up to an electric pedestal, they are just perfect to take the nip out of the morning without having to fire up your furnace. Do note though, if you’re on metered electric pedestals, your pocket book will feel it.
THROW ON EXTRA BLANKETS ON THE BED
So, we have a secret that we’re willing to share with you. We are not fans of those bed-in-a-bag bedroom ensembles for beds. Why? Because we hate those big poofy comforters that you can’t really wash in a regular washer and they look like hell when you do anyways.
Having lived in Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, you can guess we are pros at living in cold weather conditions. We’ve learned that it’s best to layer your bedding like your clothing. We have three inexpensive similar-looking quilted blanket throws that we keep on our bed. If it gets too warm, we just add or peel off the layers one by one as the seasons change.
PUT ON A SWEATSHIRT
If you’ve not heard it a hundred times before while growing up, you’ll hear it a hundred times more. If you’re cold, throw on a sweatshirt or sweater. This is one of those when Mother is always right. Just do it! Of course, it doesn’t have to be a fancy name brand. Your frumpy comfy shitters full sweatshirt will do just fine!
TIME TO PUT ON YOUR FUZZY SLIPPERS!
The insulation between the belly of your RV and the floor isn’t going to be as nice as what it was in your S&B. So, just slip on a pair of socks or your warm fuzzy slippers.
Speaking of cold tootsies, if your coach has bare floors, consider getting some brightly colored throw rag rugs to put near your bed, in the bathroom, at the kitchen sink, etc. Likewise, your pups and kittens don’t like to lay on a cold floor. Just make certain not to cover or block your heat vents in the floor.
USE YOUR HEAT PUMP
If your RV is equipped with a heat pump in addition to your furnace, we recommend using it occasionally if it’s above 40 degrees outside. Also, if you’re hooked to an electric pedestal, this will allow you to conserve your propane usage.
The difference between furnace and heat pump is the furnace heats from the floor of your coach and the heat pump heats from the ceiling. In our opinion, the heat pump is more efficient. But again, be wary of the temperature outside. And always follow manufacturer’s operating instructions.
There’s a plethora of different kind of space heaters out in the market today. If you opt to heat your RV with one, make certain you follow the manufacturers’ instructions as well as state codes.
Read our blog 5 Best Portable Heaters for your RV or Camper for our recommendations. You will also find our Space Heater and Fire Safety Tips and Guidelines.
But even if you don’t prefer to heat using a space heater, we still recommend you follow the following:
INDOOR WINTER SAFETY TIPS
- NEVER turn your stove or oven on to heat the inside of your RV. That’s a disaster waiting to happen
- Make certain your Carbon Monoxide Monitor is working efficiently
- Make certain you have plenty of fire extinguishers and that they haven’t expired. Its better to have to many than not enough.
- Never leave space heaters on unattended; this means sleeping or just stepping out for a moment.
- Keep children and pets away from heat sources, heat source controls and space heaters at all times.
That about wraps it up in this segment. We hope it was helpful and will give you some ideas on how to stay warm when Father Winter makes his visit.
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