Handling Cold Weather in Your RV

Here’s how we handle cold weather in our motorhome

A major benefit of the RV lifestyle is the ability to follow good weather.

Diamond Groove RV Park, Spruce Groove, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can hide out in the south during the winter and cool off in the north in the summer. Plus, you can enjoy spring and fall for several months as you move in between.

Creekside RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But sometimes you get caught in cold weather due to an early winter or unexpected circumstance. The typical recreational vehicle is not designed for use in the snowy, cold, and icy northern climates. Some RV manufacturers offer a “Polar Package”—don’t believe it, mostly marketing hype. There is not a chance it would keep you cozy warm in any “polar” climate.

Angel Lake RV Resort, Wells, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even with the cold weather limitations of most RVs, there are things you can do to reduce heat loss plus items you should have ready just in case.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is not the scope of this article to address winter-proofing an RV for those who are staying long-term in the cold.

Pony Express RV Park, Salt Lake City, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most RVs have furnaces, but cranking up the heat is expensive and counter-productive if you are losing too much heat at the same time. Look for ways to reduce this heat loss. Of course, you can pull out the sweaters and sweatshirts during the cold so you don’t have to keep the furnace temperature setting as high.

Gila Bend KOA, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you arrive at your destination, try selecting a site that will receive sun exposure throughout the day, and also offer some type of wind break. Position your RV in such a way that the front or rear—and not the side—receive the force of the wind.

Quail Ridge RV Resort, near Sierra Vista, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved rt, Sierra Vista, Arizona

Windows are a major heat loss in RVs. The first thing is to lock your windows. That extra latch helps close the seals in the window.

Close the blinds when you don’t need them open for the view or the warming sunshine. If you have curtains or secondary blackout blinds, use them.

The Springs at Borrego Golf and RV Resort, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Use Reflectix bubble foil. It is available from stores like Walmart, Lowe’s, or Home Depot, and comes in rolls. It can be cut to fit into window openings or anywhere you want to add an extra layer of insulation.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The foil will reflect the heat back in and the bubbles provide insulating air gaps. It can be used for both cold and heat. When not needed, it rolls back up for easy storage.

Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you really need to reduce heat loss overnight, bring in your slides. This reduces heat loss from the seals and reduces the exposed surface area. It also reduces the volume of the air inside your RV that needs to be heated. You may wish to retract your slides when dry camping and are trying to keep energy usage to a minimum.

Hidden Lake RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A goose down duvet is an investment with high returns that’s realized every time you cozily cuddle in bed. A duvet cover is typically purchased separately.

Down is a great natural insulator. It is the very first undercoating of goose feathers. The clusters of down are made of plenty of soft fibers that directly radiate out from the central core of the feather. The structure of down is perfectly created to trap air. For this peculiar characteristic, goose down duvets keeps you suitably warm. It still allows the moisture to escape and is a great product to keep snug yet dry. Goose down duvets is amazingly soft and light.

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The quality of down duvets is measured by its insulation abilities. The best quality down duvets would have larger clusters of down. Best quality down would be capable to acclimatize according to warmer or cooler atmospheric temperatures. If the thick, fluffy and breathable down can keep the goose so cozy out in the cold, it definitely is a sure winner for you.

Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort, Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You won’t need spare blankets for your bed with your down duvet but they add another layer in insulation during your waking hours. You can also hang a light blanket to add an extra layer over the door and the seal around the door.

Palm Springs-Joshua Tree KOA, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clothespins can be used to keep it in place. This especially helps if you need to go in and out the door as a temporary vestibule. More blankets or towels can be used to block any cold drafts.

Keeping warm in our motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fill your fresh water tank and use the pump instead of the city connection. Disconnect the outside supply water hose, drain it, and store it in your water/sewer compartment. Remember to turn on the tank heaters in your RV.

Keeping warm in our motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Try to dump your holding tanks during the warmer afternoon since everything is more difficult to work with in a cold morning. Depending on the temperature, you may wish to stow your sewer hose. Using it on an extremely cold morning may result in a cracked sewer hose.

Worth Pondering…

And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow.

—Roy Bean