There may be times when conserving power in your RV feels like deprivation; we prefer to think of it as a game. Where are there little ways to save just a bit more juice? What will stretch our reserves a few hours or days longer? Every little change adds up, and that can create opportunities to stay a little longer in nature, enjoy the present moment a little more, or turn a little more attention to the people we’re with. (At least, that’s what we tell ourselves when we’re eking out every last battery percentage on our electronics before recharging.)
1: Take advantage of nature’s air conditioning.
Mother Nature gave us shade for a reason. When the sun is high and the temperature is rising, one of the simplest ways to stay cool is to seek out copious amounts of shade to park beneath. Whether you look for a copse of trees or hang an awning is up to you.
Another way to take advantage of nature’s bounty is to park by a body of water, if one is available. It takes a lot more energy to heat water than it does to heat land, which means water stays cooler than the shore for a longer period of time. Hot air rising off earth meets the cooler air over the water and creates a refreshing breeze. Plus, let’s be real, lake people are always just a little bit cooler than everyone else. (Ba-dum-chh.)
2: Use old-school solutions.
How did people stay cool before the advent of electricity? They used simple, physical solutions to help them control and direct heat. Shutters, shades and curtains all served a practical purpose back in the day and, as it turns out, they still work in modern times as well.
If you’re lucky enough to be in a location that cools down at night, you can extend the coolness of your RV into the daytime by keeping your blinds down as the sun goes up. You’ll trap the cool air inside and bounce the heat of the sun off your window coverings instead of inviting it inside. Likewise, when the sun goes down, open up your window shades and windows and air your RV out with fresh, cool evening air. Even if the cooler air inside doesn’t last all day, you’ve bought yourself several AC-free hours, with any luck.
And if you’re in a colder climate, just reverse it. Keep your window shades open to let the heat of the sun warm up your RV during the day, then close shades and curtains at night to help insulate against cold nights. Thick curtains are often used to keep drafty old homes warm in the winter––the extra layer of air trapped between the fabric and the window prevents the cold from permeating your space. If you only have shades in your RV, consider tucking towels or blankets around the windows where you sleep to help keep the chill away.
3: Chase the weather.
You know how maniacal meteorologists sometimes chase tornadoes? Take that idea, flip it, and chase your perfect weather. When your home is on wheels, you can take it to any climate that suits your fancy. An abundance of climates and microclimates across North America means your paradise is always just a drive away.
On a macro level, that could mean driving south for winter or north in the summer to escape extreme heat or cold. On a micro level, it might mean taking the long way to your destination to sidestep a storm or an incoming heatwave. Winter sports enthusiasts chase the snow, snowbirds chase the heat, and if you want to chase the perfect 70-degree day year-round, why shouldn’t you? That’s what wheels are for.
4. Invest in LED lights.
LED lights use up to 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting (typical light bulbs). That translates to lanterns and flashlights that can both shine brighter and last longer than older models, providing a useful tool for both inside and outside your RV when camping. There are even camping lanterns that split off into individual lamps so each person in your party can have a personal light at night, which is perfect for kids who hate the dark. And the average lifespan of an LED flashlight is between 50,000 and 100,000 hours, which is about 5 to 10 years, so no worries if junior falls asleep with the light on!
5. Plan your generator use.
When you need to use your generator, one easy way to help conserve power is to charge all your devices at once. Rather than flipping the generator on and off throughout the day, pick a time frame for when you’ll have it on, and charge anything that needs charging during that time. This might include phones, computers, tablets, wireless speakers or headphones, cameras, appliance batteries or anything else that needs a bit of juice.