Today is officially the first day of winter, and it is snowing here. :-) But, as far as we are concerned, it's been winter here in the hudson valley of NY since late October. Chad has been really concerned about making sure I stay warm because I really don't like to be cold. We've both done lots of research on this and have talked with other winter RVers. So, here's a list of what we've done so far. I'm calling this Part 1 because I'm sure we will come up with more ideas before the winter is over.
2. Insulate. To keep the RV as warm as possible, you need to prevent as much heat loss as you can. We used bubble wrap insulation to cover the bedroom windows.
Many RVers also use skirting around the outside of the RV. We plan to travel this winter, so we have not done that. But, we would like to insulate the underside of the RV with closed cell spray foam insulation. We also plan to coat the roof with an aluminum coating. In addition we created a blanket fort to seal off the drafts from the front of the RV. We also put bubble wrap insulation over the ceiling vent to keep heat from escaping.
3. Keep the moisture out. Once you take all these measures to keep the heat in, moisture becomes a problem from condensation. Water was dripping down from the window that had the plastic film insulation on it. We tried letting some cooler air in, but the most effective thing for us has been to purchase a dehumidifier. We also make sure we use the stove vent as well whenever we are cooking.
4. Protect your water and sewer lines as well as your holding tanks. It is generally best not to keep sewer and water lines connected in the winter. If you do, you must wrap them with heat tape. We connect our sewer and water hoses as needed and then make sure the liquid is drained out before we put them away so they do not freeze. This means that the water and sewer valve are always kept closed unless we are dumping. We looked into different ideas for our holding tanks. The best thing we found was rock salt. We add about 2 cups just after we empty the tanks. We usually dissolve it with warm water before putting down the drain in the bathtub. We also only dump our tanks when full.
Incidentally, we got lazy this week with the warmer temperatures and did not put the salt in the tanks. And, this morning when we needed to dump, the valves were froze up. We used a portable gas heater to thaw it out.
Our valves have been leaking a little bit anyway. So, this just made the problem worse. We will need to replace them soon.
5. Keep mice out. I am so afraid of having a mouse problem. So far, we have not noticed any evidence of these pests. But, the best way I know to get rid of them is mouse traps. Also, it is really important to make sure all the penetrations are sealed up really good with great stuff.
6. Protect your refrigerator. This may not be a problem for most RVers, but we have noticed that our freezer is icing up more than usual from the cold outside. The refrigerator has chemicals in the cooling unit that will gel up if the outside temperature is too cold. There needs to be a certain amount of heat in the vented compartment for it to work properly. We have our RV parked so that the side with the refrigerator vent gets sun exposure. But, it may be helpful to put a bat of unfaced fiberglass insulation to cover the vent holes. Just make sure this does not create a fire hazard of any sort with any light bulbs in the compartment. It is also important to take the insulation out when the weather warms up. You can find more information about this here.
7. Use an electric blanket. We absolutely love our electric blanket. We usually turn it on about 30 minutes before we crawl into bed. Then, we turn off the blanket. We also use a memory foam mattress which is an insulator, so the bed usually stays really warm all night even though we turn all the heat way down before we go to bed.
8. Use thick rugs on the floor. This not only helps to insulate the floor but also keeps your feet much warmer. Also, invest in warm slippers. Our floor sometimes gets wet from tracking in wet snow, so I put my slippers on immediately when I walk in.
9. Supplement your furnace with electric heaters. It is cheaper for us to use our electric heaters throughout the day when we are at home. We generally only use the propane furnace to warm up the RV quickly when we wake up in the morning or after we have been away all day. The ceramic heaters are safe to use and will not create additional moisture inside the RV. Avoid using your propane stove or oven for heat. This could lead to asphyxiation.
Comfort Zone Multi Purpose Ceramic Heater CZ442WM
So far, we have no complaints about living in the RV during the winter. We have been staying warm and cozy. It is also helpful to have nice plush blankets to snuggle up with to stay warm as well. Although, the coldest days are yet to come, I am sure. Will see how that goes...
Would love to hear any further suggestions you all have for us.