Winter RV Camping: Keep Your RV Interior Warm in Cold Weather

We totally get that winter RV camping isn’t for everyone. But that doesn’t preclude full-time RVers from feeling the effects of the blustery cold weather even for a night or two on the way to their winter destinations. So you’re not left out in the cold, here’s some helpful cold weather RV tips to help keep you warm and toasty while enjoying the RV lifestyle.

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Because motorhomes and campers aren’t built or insulated like sticks and bricks homes, there are certain things you can do to beat the chills. But even if you’re too late on some of these tips, you still should do them to maximize the heating efficiency in your motorhome, fifth wheel, travel trailer or even camper van.

Winter Camping - Warm RV Interior-2

Winter RV Camping: Keeping Your RV Interior Warm in Cold Weather

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.

If you don’t feel comfortable with any preventative maintenance, repair, inspection or cleaning, look into hiring a certified RV tech who’s familiar in your furnace manufacturer.

Vacuum out furnace vents

Cleaning your furnace vents goes along with having your RV furnace inspected and serviced. Since RV furnace vents are typically at floor level or on the floor, they are endless collectors of dust, small stones, pet hair, cat toys, hair ties, etc. Simply remove your RV’s furnace vent covers and wash with hot soapy water and dry.

While the vent covers are off, inspect and carefully 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. Replace any furnace heat-resistant air duct tape that may have come apart or procured holes.

After you’re finished inspecting, vacuuming and repairing your furnace vents, replace your vent covers.

Pull window shades, blinds and curtains

Winter Camping - Warm RV Interior - Window Shade

In our fifth wheel and now our motorhome, our dual-pane windows are a Godsend during extremely warm or cold outside temperatures. However, most lower-end campers or older coaches aren’t equipped with them. So, you may notice loss of interior heat with single-pane glass windows. Or, you may feel cold air coming through the seals or components.

This is why it’s important to utilize your window shades. Shades, blinds and even curtains aren’t just for privacy or room darkening. They can act as, at least, a minimal insulating barrier keeping cold weather air from coming in.

But, to really insulate your windows, install a layer of thermal barrier of insulation over the window. Then pull the shade for added insulation and for aesthetics.

Close all closet doors and cabinets

Have you ever noticed when you open your cabinets in the winter, everything inside is colder than the inside of your motorhome or camper. Your cabinets and doors actually act as an insulating barrier so keep them closed in cold weather.

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.

But, you could go a step further in lining the back wall with a thermal barrier of insulation.

Close AC ceiling vents

Since you’re not using your RV air conditioners, close your AC vents in the ceiling. This will help keep cold air from the roof and ceiling ducting from entering your RV interior rooms. You may want to invest in vent covers that can be open or closed like we did in our fifth wheels. They can make a big difference in conserving or directing the air flow.

Closing off unused rooms

Just like a sticks and bricks house, closing off rooms helps to conserve comfortable room temperature in specific rooms. If you spend more time in your kitchen and living area, close the bedroom and bathroom door to concentrate the heat in that area. Also, close the furnace vents in the unused room. This allows the furnace heat to channel more to the rooms you wish to heat.

Use your RV heat pump

We recommend using your RV’s heat pump instead of your furnace heat if it’s above 40 degrees outside. This will help conserve your propane.

The difference between furnace and heat pump is the furnace heats from the floor of your RV 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 your furnace manufacturer’s owner’s manual.

Turn on your ceiling fan

Your ceiling fan can help circulate the air in your RV living space.

A typical ceiling fan has two controls; forward (clockwise) and reverse (counter-clockwise). During the warm months, you’ll want to set your ceiling fan control on forward to pull the warm air up to the ceiling vents where air is exchanged for the air conditioner.

But, since warm air rises, during the cold winter months, you’ll want to change your ceiling fan setting to reverse to push the warm air down. You’ll also want to use only the low setting when doing this.

Enjoy your electric fireplace

Winter Camping - Electric Fireplace

A lot of fifth wheels, campers and motorhomes come equipped with luxurious electric fireplaces. While they offer a bit of evening ambiance, they also can be used to heat the room during cold weather. 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, realize that any appliance that heats, you can expect higher electric bill.

Throw extra blankets on the bed

Since we are not fans of those bed-in-a-bag bedroom ensembles because we hate those big poofy comforters, we prefer attractive quilts instead. Not only are they easier to launder, but also, we can layer one, two or even three depending on the weather. In fact, we layer two on our bed in the summer and three in the winter. If it gets too warm or cold, we just add or peel off the layers one by one.

Layer your clothing

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. Just like we mentioned layering our bedding, layering your clothing has the same concept. In the cold months, I typically wear a camisole next to my skin, then a t-shirt or long sleeve wick-away top and throw on a sweatshirt or sweater as needed.

Oh, and if you’re into funny RV humor, this comfy sweatshirt will do just fine!

Bring out your fuzzy bunny slippers

Face it, we all know that RVs aren’t insulated quite the same as sticks and bricks homes. The floors get cold because there’s not much insulation in the flooring and underbelly of your RV; especially travel trailers and fifth wheels. So, just slip on a pair of socks or your warm fuzzy bunny slippers.

Floor coverings and throw rugs

Speaking of cold tootsies, if your coach has bare floors, consider getting some simple throw rugs to put near your bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, or even  in front of your recliners. Your pups and kittens will also appreciate them too! Just make certain not to block or place them on your RV heating vents.

Winter Camping - Mr. Heater with Cat

Use space heaters

There’s several different kinds of small portable space heaters out in the market today. You can choose from propane space heater, electric space heater, or oil space heater. If you opt to heat your RV with one, make certain you follow the manufacturers’ instructions as well as state codes. Make certain they won’t tip over or have open flames. Also, never plug any space heater into an extension cord or electric ‘brick’.

We encourage you to read our article 5 Best Portable Heaters for your RV or Camper for not only our recommendations but also space heater and fire safety tips.

But even if you don’t prefer to heat using a space heater but use any open flame and heating appliances, we recommend to follow these indoor winter safety tips for RVs:


      • NEVER use your stove or oven to heat the inside of your RV. That’s a disaster waiting to happen
      • Make certain your Carbon Monoxide Monitor is working properly
      • Check to ensure 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, leaving for extended periods of time or even just stepping out for a moment.
      • Always keep children and pets away from all open flames, heat sources, and space heaters at all times. Never allow children to operate or play with controls on space heaters, stoves or ovens.

That wraps it up this article. We hope our recommendations were helpful and give you some ideas on how to stay warm when Father Winter makes his visit.

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2 Replies to “Winter RV Camping: Keep Your RV Interior Warm in Cold Weather”

  1. Good article. Found some tips I hadn’t thought of. I camp in a tent trailer in late August/early September in Alberta, Canada. Its basically a tent on wheels. Gets pretty chilly at night. I get power sites and use a small ceramic heater and I have an electric mattress pad. Best buy I’ve made. Keeps the bed warm all night.

    1. Hi Yvonne, gosh it must be cold up there! We don’t envy you however, if you can make winter camping work for you, more power to enjoying the outdoors! Be careful with those electric components you mentioned when sleeping and unattended.

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