10 Tips for Staying Warm in Your RV this Winter
10 Tips for Staying Warm in Your RV this Winter
How to protect your RV when temperatures drop.
By: Kenny & Sabrina Phillips
Sabrina and I have found ourselves in some cold climates throughout our years of RVing. One winter in particular, Sabrina was working in Erie, PA, in the month of March. Although we arrived with no incidents, the temperatures started to drop below fifteen degrees. Knowing what to do in this situation is important for your safety and to protect your RV.
You might be planning an RV trip in winter months, or you may find yourself caught in a cold snap, either way I hope to help you out with some tips of staying warm in the winter.
Please note: Not all RVs are made for all-season use. Check your RV’s manual carefully before planning a trip to a colder climate and be sure to follow the winterization procedures as needed. However, many Winnebago RVs are now being made with cold-climate travel in mind and may already have multiple features to help keep you and your RV warm in winter.
1. Keep Water Lines & Tanks from Freezing
If you take care of your RV, than most likely your RV will take care of you. When temperatures get below freezing one of the first things people worry about is water and for good reason. Frozen water is not just inconvenient, it can cause serious damage in our RVs.
Water expands when it freezes, which can cause your fittings to burst and spray water in areas you may not be able to see or be aware of. Luckily, keeping our plumbing above freezing is easy in our Winnebago Vista because we have what is considered a freeze line.
As long as we are keeping our RV at a warm, comfortable temperature via our furnace, our plumbing is staying warm as well because all the plumbing in our Vista is ran above this freeze line. This might be best explained by this photo of our freshwater tank, you can see the tank sits high in this cargo bay and is kept warm by the hot air circulating from our furnace.
2. (Safely!) Use Creative Techniques as Needed
You may have seen some other techniques that offer an extra layer of protection to keep your bays and tanks from getting too cold, or that help keep warmth inside and cold out. From DIY hacks to helpful products, there are many additional options out there that RVers claim are worth trying in freezing temperatures.
However, keep in mind that any time you are using a heat source there is risk involved. Be sure to do your research and use any additional methods safely to avoid damage to your RV or harm to you and your family.
The online GoLife Community groups are a great place to get reccomendations from other owners. Just note that not all suggestions are endorsed by Winnebago. If you have any questions or concerns you can contact the Winnebago Customer Care team directly at (641) 585-6939 for motorhomes, or (574) 825-8052 for towables.
3. Consider Temperature Monitors
How do you know if your RV's bays are getting too cold? We use temperature monitors in our bays. We have four in total and use a variety of brands.
One brand we use is Tempstick, we like this one because it will send us an alert when temperatures drop below our desired setting. This alert is sent to our phones and works even when we are away from the RV. We also use Acurite monitors, and we can monitor these throughout the day while inside the RV.
4. Don’t Forget About Your Hoses
Another tip to protect your plumbing is to fill your freshwater tank, then disconnect your fresh water hose and put it away. This will prevent your fill hose from freezing and possibly causing damage to your spicket inlet.
I have seen people use electric warmers for their hoses, but I have never done this because it is not uncommon for power to go out at campgrounds in the winter. All it takes is a good storm or high winds and then that water hose will no longer be heated.
I have also seen other folks wrap their hoses in insulation and I suppose that is a good alternative, but I would imagine you would want to be camping in place for a bit to do that.
5. Prevent Snow & Ice Accumulation on Slides
Another trick we use to help keep the RV warm is we bring all three slides in during inclement weather. There was a time when we did not bring our slides in at night and it snowed. The next morning, our slide toppers had snow and ice on them and we were scheduled to leave that day.
Luckily, I had a ladder and was able to use a broom to sweep and break the ice off the slide toppers to bring our slides in. As you will see from the photos in this article, I am a slow learner and you will notice that there are plenty of times I forgot to bring our slides in and you can see the snow piled up on top of our slide toppers.
We now always bring our slides in when temps drop down below freezing, this also allows us to use less propane to heat the RV since we significantly decrease our square footage.
6. Protect Your Steps
If your entry steps have an auto function, turn it on. This will bring your steps in every time you close your door. So, if it snows overnight, your steps are under cover of your RV and you won’t have to sweep them off in the morning and possibly even prevent them from icing up.
7. Add Skirting for Longer Camping
My final suggestion for keeping the RV warm is to use some type of skirting around the outside of your RV. This is something that we have never done because we typically are not in one location long enough to go through the work of installing the skirting. However, the idea of the skirting is to prevent cold air from being blown under the RV. It also helps keep the warm air under the RV trapped under there.
If I were to do skirting, I would go with a company called Air Skirts. They make an inflatable RV skirt that goes completely around your RV and because it is inflatable it packs up very small for when it comes time to travel. The downside to this skirting is that it’s a bit pricey, but I believe it’s the best way to add skirting to your RV and will be a great improvement over the drywall or plastic skirting I sometimes see people using.
How We Keep Ourselves Warm When RVing in Cold Weather
Now that we have the RV all setup to stay warm, here are the top three ways we stay warm in the RV when it is cold outside:
1. Electric Blanket: One of Sabrina’s favorite items in the winter is her electric blanket (actually she uses it almost all year round). She has two of them, one works from a 12-volt outlet and the other is a 110-volt.
She uses the 12volt while in the passenger seat and dry camping and uses the 110-volt while plugged into a campground. She also likes the 110-volt blanket because it has a built-in timer, so when she puts it on at night for sleeping she can set it for an hour or so and have it automatically turn off.
2. Space Heaters: We also use space heaters in our RV to help offset our propane consumption. But it is important to know that you do not want to use the space heaters as your main source of heat because then your furnace will not be keeping your cargo bay and tank areas warm.
(Note: Although we use a space heater, this is not a reccomendation from Winnebago since there are risks to using these. If you decide to use one, be sure to read over the safety guidelines and make sure it won't overload your RV's electrical system.)
We use the space heaters when it’s cold out, but not below freezing. We are also lucky to have an A/C heat pump in our RV which will work down to temperatures of about 40 degrees. This was an option that came with our Vista when we bought it. Honestly, we did not think much of it, but it has been a great feature to have and we use it often.
3. Cuddle the Dog: And then of course our favorite way of keeping warm is snuggling with Belle our small dog. Not only does she love to cuddle, but boy does she put off some heat!
We wish you safe travels and cool comfortable temps everywhere you go! If you have any additional tips let us know about them in the comment section, we love to hear from you!
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