Tips and Tricks for Staying Warm in Older RVs and Cold Weather

There are plenty of reasons to go RVing in the winter, but whether it’s the sugar-sprinkled scenery or the snow-packed ski slopes that you’re after, the bitter temperatures probably aren’t high up on that list of reasons, especially if you’re traveling in an older RV. Luckily, there are a number of preparations that you can make to help brave the cold comfortably. Try some of these tips and tricks for staying warm in older RVs and cold weather, and enjoy the wonders of winter while still being able to escape the chill when you want to!

Maximize Insulation

Older RVs are not as well insulated as newer models, and over time the R-value of the existing insulation drops. If you want to stay warm in your RV during cold weather, insulation needs to be a priority. Even if you have an efficient heat source, it won’t do you much good if you don’t have a well-insulated unit to trap in that heat.

Curtains & Shades
Keep your curtains and your window shades down in your RV. Doing so will create an extra layer between the window pane and the window covering, which adds an additional chamber to trap in heat and keep out cold. If you don’t have curtains in your unit, consider making some using a thick material. Think of these curtains as a bonus layer of insulation that you can use when needed.

Rugs & Skirting
The floor of your RV can feel frozen in cold weather, especially if your unit is drafty. Putting down rugs can help to better insulate the flooring and keep your feet warmer. You can use an area rug to cover more of your floor or you can cut a sheet of carpet to size and lay that down. Rugs are great because they not only help to protect your flooring, but they can easily be removed in the summer months when you want to keep your unit cool. Skirting the exterior of your RV can also help to insulate the floors better.

Hatch Vent Cushions
Your RV’s hatch vent has very minimal thermal resistance because it consists of little more than a thin piece of plastic. Because heat rises, you can trap in a lot of escaping warmth by insulating these heat-leaking culprits. You can purchase an insulated reflective vent pillow and shove that up into your hatch vent. These products even work great in the summer to keep your unit cool! For a more economical route, you can also cut insulated styrofoam to the size of your hatch dimensions and place it in the vent.

Reflectix Screens

You lose most of the heat in your rig through your windows, so creating an extra buffer by putting up Reflectix will dramatically improve the comfort level of your RV’s interior. This product looks a lot like silver bubble wrap, but it has powerful insulating properties. You can cut these protective shields to the size of your windows and wedge them between the window panes and the window shades. While these will prevent you from being able to look out of your windows, they can easily be removed and put back up when needed.

Reduce Cold Air Infiltration

Now that you know how to trap heat in your unit by maximizing your insulation, your next step will be reducing the amount of cold air that infiltrates your RV and lowers its internal temperature. Cold air can leak into your unit through a number of common locations, so by identifying these areas and sealing them, you can dramatically improve the coziness of your RV.

Door Draft Stopper
You can purchase an insulated draft stopper and slide it beneath the bottom of your entry door to prevent cold air from leaking into your unit. These are relatively cheap products and they work remarkably well in reducing the drafts that come in from under your doors. You should also try to avoid opening your doors as much as possible to reduce the amount of cold air that you let in.

Seal Leaks
Before the cold temperatures have set in, you’ll want to inspect your RV for areas where frigid air can invade your cozy interior. Examine the seals and seams of your unit and if you notice any cracks or tears, these will be problem areas that require repair. Use a rubber coating for the seams in your roof and use silicone caulk to reinforce the weakened seals along the sides of your RV. If the wearing is extensive, you may just want to replace the rubber seals and gaskets around your windows, doors, and slides.

Shrink Wrap Your Door
By shrink wrapping your screen door, you will be able to open up the outer door and let the sunshine pour in while keeping the cold air out. To do so, clean your door off with alcohol and let it dry. Then, use double-sided tape to outline the door and firmly press the plastic onto it. Cut off the excess plastic with a razor blade or utility knife. Your last step will be to wave a heated hair dryer over the plastic to make it taut. Once you’ve finished shrink wrapping your door, you will be able to feel the warmth of the sunshine without feeling the bitter chill of the wind!

Artificial Heat

With a well-insulated RV that can’t be easily penetrated by the cold, you’ll still need a source of heat to keep your interior feeling toasty. While newer models frequently include quality furnaces and electric fireplaces, older models may be without an efficient source of warmth, which is a problem if you want to RV year round. Consider some of the options below to help heat up your home on wheels this winter!

Space Heater
While a space heater won’t do you much good if you’re dry camping, these handy little heaters are a good second level of defense against the bitter cold. Ceramic space heaters are ideal if you’re staying in a campground that doesn’t meter your electricity or one that factors unlimited power into the camping fee. Ceramic space heaters also have a better safety record than most other heaters. Your RV’s existing furnace is likely to consume more LP gas than any other appliance in your rig, so using a space heater can be a smart supplemental source of heat. You can even find them in compact designs that won’t take up much space within your RV.

Vent-Free Propane Heaters
A propane heater is great if you are looking to dry camp, or boondock, in cold weather. And most models work off of electricity or propane, so they are extremely versatile and convenient to have. Portable, vent-free options are also available to eliminate the need for a complex install. The main downside to these heaters is that they add extra condensation to the inside of your rig.

Heated Blankets & Mattress Pads

If you have an electric blanket and a heated mattress pad, you might just find yourself spending the entire winter hibernating in bed! Electric blankets are great because they can be used during the night in bed or while warming up in the living area during the day. Heated mattress pads can create an oven effect while you sleep by trapping in the rising heat between the bed and the blankets. This cocoon of warmth that is created makes for one pleasant night’s rest!

Dealing With Condensation

With your RV sealed tightly to keep warm air in, you might notice increased condensation forming as a result. This buildup of moisture can lead to mildew or mold issues, so it is important that you try to reduce the amount of condensation in your rig as much as possible. A small dehumidifier can aid you in this process. You can also use super-absorbent towels to wipe up the wetness from your window panes. Whenever you are taking a shower, keep the vents open, and whenever you are cooking, use the range hood overhead. Taking a few precautionary steps can really help to limit the amount of moisture buildup in your rig.

Positioning Your RV

The way you orient your RV can have a significant impact on the internal temperature of your rig. Try to position your RV so that the wind hits the rear of the unit, rather than the side. When parking your RV to setup camp, seek out windbreaks if there are any. These can be found in the form of a tall fence or a row of trees. Lastly, always try to orient your RV so that the sunlight hits the largest of your windows for most of the day.

By trying out some of these tips and tricks for staying warm in older RVs and cold weather, you will be able to enjoy the positive aspects of winter without having to put up with being uncomfortably cold in the process. If you’re a year-round RVer, how do you stay warm in your rig during the winter months? Let us know in the comments below and share your warmth-related wisdom with the world!

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