An increasing number of people are choosing to live in their RVs fulltime rather than storing them throughout winter. Unfortunately, motorhomes are notoriously difficult to keep “climate controlled”. It seems like they’re either too hot or too cold. Although the insulation that they’re manufactured with is likely sufficient for moderate temperatures, if you ever plan to spend time in cold climates, you’ll probably want to winterize.
If you plan on storing your RV there are a few important things to keep in mind. Try reading: Winterizing Your RV for Storage
For those traveling, basically, the goal is to reduce drafts and increase the insulation. There are several methods you can use to do this. So, let’s start with the easiest, least expensive ones and work our way up.
Install Thermal Curtains
This is one of the first things we did when we obtained our RV. It’s a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to regulate the temperature, as well as increase privacy. Plus, it reduces heating costs.
We installed curtains between the cockpit and the primary living area. Most days—weather permitting—we open them to let in the sunlight. During the coldest days—and most winter nights—we close them to trap in the warm air. These are available at most home improvement stores, as well as online.
Also read: Making Your House on Wheels a Home
Insulate Slide-Out Gaps
The slide-outs require room in order to move in and out of the RV. Because of this, they have gaps that allow drafts. In fact, one winter, we even noticed a small accumulation of snow in our bedroom. This wasn’t as magical as one might think.
Since you can’t permanently seal the gaps, you just want to fill them once you’ve made camp. Personally, we just shove a couple of pairs of socks that I’ve sewed together into the gaps. It is cheap, easy, and gets the job done. We just have to remember to remove them before retracting the slide-outs.
Related Read: Pre-Camp “Do Not Forget” Checklist
Protect Your Water and Sewer Lines
Once the temperature dips below freezing, you want to make sure your faucets, hoses, pump, and lines don’t freeze. These can be expensive problems to fix. By filling your tank and disconnecting from the outside water line, you reduce the chance of your inside water freezing. If you want to remain hooked up, you should use a heated water hose or insulate your existing hose with heat tape and insulation. Also, protect your faucets. Consider setting them to a slow drip to ensure they don’t freeze.
Make sure your RV hose is sloping down to the campground’s sewer hookup so the drainage doesn’t freeze at the lowest spot creating a “poo plug”. (Although the child in me wants to chuckle at the concept, the adult in me doesn’t want to have to deal with that sort of mess in the cold.) Another option is to replace the hose with a PVC sewer pipe designed for sewer hookups.
Related Read: Camping During the Winter Months
Insulate the Windows
The rest of the strategies are a bit more time and money intensive. They’re very useful, however, if you live in particularly chilly climates.
Since, much of the cold air enters through the single-pane windows of the RV, you want to take steps to block them. An easy solution is to replace the blinds with thermal ones. These can be found in the home improvement section of most discount department stores, as well as big box shops like Lowes and Home Depot.
One step up from that is to apply Shrink film to the inside of the windows. Merely cut the clear film to size, attach it with double-sided tape, and seal it with the heat from a hair dryer. It keeps the cold out, the heat in, and reduces condensation. In spring, just peel it off. It’s much easier than installing Plexiglas “storm windows”.
Seal Storage Areas
Another place cold air comes in is through the floor. This is due in part to the outside openings that accommodate gas pipes and water lines. Use weather seals like aerosol expanding foam, weather stripping, or foam and foam tape to seal any gaps. This also helps to keep out rodents.
Insulate Behind the Cabinets
This is probably a weekend’s worth of work, but it definitely helps insulate your RV, especially if live in extreme northern climates. There are several different methods for doing this but each requires you measure the interior of the cabinets, cut the insulating material to size, and use an adhesive to fix it in place.
You can use fiberglass (which does cut into your storage space quite a bit), R5 pink board insulation, or Styrofoam. They each have their positive and negative aspects, and each can be purchased at most home improvement or building supply stores. Just keep in mind that every little bit helps.
Related Read: RV Winter Tips for Full-Timers
As you can see, there are several ways to winterize your RV for use in cooler climates, and some are easier and less expensive than others. These important steps help you moderate your interior temperature, reducing the expense of heating your rig. They also serve the added purpose of restricting—or preferably eliminating—infestations of pests seeking the warmth of your home. ICK!
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