Glaring sun shines on RVs in a campground with small newly planted trees

RV Heating and Cooling Efficiency to Maximize Comfort Without Maximizing Energy Usage

Most people put a lot of thought into heating and cooling their home efficiently. But not everyone puts the same thought into efficiently heating and cooling your RV. Your RV is your home away from home, so carefully considering the heating and cooling of your RV is well worth your time. You want your RV to last for years of enjoyment and keep you and your family comfortable no matter the weather. Let’s look at some cost-effective ways to maximize your RV heating and cooling.

Why You Should Care about RV Heating and Cooling Efficiency

Running the heating and cooling systems drains energy. This limits your power usage for other purposes. It may not seem to matter much if you are camping in a traditional campground with electrical hookup.

However, this is especially important for boondockers as it can dramatically lower your time spent away from a power source. If you drain your energy heating or cooling, your electronics and other appliances will be unavailable. Keep in mind that you can only run an AC away from a full power hookup if your RV has a fairly large power inverter installed! Without it, you’ll need to find other ways of keeping your RV cool.

Even for traditional campground camping with electrical hookup, keep in mind that the harder your AC or heat has to work, the more maintenance it will need. It could fail at an inopportune time – there’s nothing like a blistering hot week in July camping with no air conditioning. (Except maybe a brisk late October trip with no heat!)

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Tips for RV Heating Efficiency

When temperatures drop, conserving heat and making the most of your resources can dramatically cut down on energy use. Conserving heat can stretch your energy for longer periods if you are using battery or propane.

Install an RV Skirt

One way to conserve heat is by installing an RV skirt. Properly installed vinyl skirting can reduce heat loss from the interior of your RV by as much as 25%. There are many types of skirting materials as well as installation and ground attachment options; there are even insulated skirting options. If you are a cold-weather camper and really want to keep toasty, skirting is worth serious consideration.

Trap Heat

Another way to conserve heat is to close vents or cover them to trap in heat. Vents that can’t close will bleed any heat you’ve managed to generate inside – and you’ll lose that heat quickly since heat rises.

Roller Shades help capture heat
RV roller shades help capture heat in a Catalina trailer.

Water Lines

Don’t overlook your water lines. Water lines are vulnerable to cold, wrapping them can reduce the amount of energy required to warm your hot water. Foam pipe insulation is fairly inexpensive and simple to install. It slides over your water lines in minutes. For greater protection against the cold, wrap your lines in heat tape prior to encasing them in foam pipe insulation for a one-two punch against freezing weather.

Upgrade Insulation

You may consider upgrading the insulation in your RV. Although RVs come with insulation, extra insulation can be added aftermarket if desired. Insulation is rated by an “R-Value” which measures the thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the more effective it is.

Insulation comes in three main types: Fiberglass, Rigid Foam and Spray Foam. Fiberglass has been the standard “tried and true” insulation for years. It is also the easiest to install. Rigid Foam insulation has a mid- to low-range R-value and can be difficult to install but it is more resistant to moisture. Spray Foam insulation is lightweight and unaffected by moisture but may require professional installation.

The Sun

It may seem like common sense, but don’t forget to position your RV for the maximum benefit of the sun. Sunlight is free and can warm your RV quickly – even on very cold days. So, park your RV to be sure you are going to get the most benefit and warmth from the sun. This is especially important if you use solar power panels.

Tips for RV Cooling Efficiency

As temperatures begin to climb in the warmer months, you may be able to avoid running your air conditioner by the simple act avoiding the sun. Remember, in the summer, shade is your friend. During those hot summer months, look for campgrounds with heavy tree cover and avoid unnecessary direct sunlight.

Open Your Windows

Open windows in the evenings and early mornings to allow the cooler outside air in. Once the outdoor air begins to warm up, close windows and doors and pull down shades and blinds to keep out the sun.  This will maximize the cool and prolong the need to run your air conditioner.

Max AC Efficiency

When it is necessary to run your air, be sure to maximize your efficiency. A simple way to accomplish this is to be sure your air conditioning unit is clean. Check your filters and vents for damage, dirt and debris. Make regular filter cleaning part of your regular cleaning routine – your AC will thank you! The more work the AC unit needs to do, the less efficient it will be.


Also, ensure the proper voltage is being used. The relationship between amps, volts and watts may seem confusing, but you don’t have to have an electrical engineering degree to run your RV’s air conditioner. A standard 50-amp campground hookup is just that, standard. It provides 120/240 volts and most RVs wired for 50-amp service use 120 volts.

Low voltage hook-ups may allow the AC to run, but at reduced power. If you are using a 30-amp to 50-amp adapter and are not getting at least 105 volt service, you could do serious damage to your AC unit. Running your AC at 120 volts is preferred. If in doubt, invest in a voltage meter and be sure it is properly calibrated.  Then you will be able to check to be sure your AC is running at the recommended voltage.

Reflective Panels

Another thing to consider is light-reflecting panels. Putting reflective shades or panels in your windows helps deflect light, and the heat it generates, from your RV.

Purchase the Right RV for Efficiency

Small RVs can be easier to heat or cool, just like smaller homes. So you can maximize your RV power by purchasing one that’s the right size, with the right amenities and battery supply for your needs.

Keep in mind what factors are most important to you and the pros and cons of each. You may want a bunkhouse-style camper for maximized sleeping capacity; however will heating and cooling the added square footage expend more energy than you are willing? (Browse Bunkhouses to see the different makes and models we have in stock!)

There are plenty of RV options available these days, so deciding if you want to sleep more people and spend more to keep a comfortable climate or sleep fewer people and save on heating and cooling are things to take into consideration when looking to purchase your RV.

Find the Perfect RV for You – Contact RV Wholesale Superstore

Are you ready to buy your first RV and travel the country? The professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help you find the perfect RV for your budget! Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (866) 596-7767.

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