Now that winter is in high gear, full time winter campers and RVers are likely noticing an increase in their propane usage. After all, you have to keep your rig warm, and the built-in furnace seems to be the most logical way to do that. Using the propane system to heat up water for showering and washing dishes requires a lot more time when the weather is cold. This means a lot more fuel is used every time the propane water heater is turned on.
Obviously, this big increase in propane usage can get very expensive. On top of that, using lots of propane for heating and cooking in your rig when the weather outside is colder causes condensation to build up on the walls and windows. Eventually, this condensation can cause mold and mildew, two things you definitely don’t want to deal with.
Luckily there are ways to cut back on your wintertime propane usage, saving you tons of money and saving your walls from mildew spots. Here are our top 6 tips for using less propane while remaining comfy and cozy in your RV.
#1: Move Somewhere Warm
This first tip is the most effective, but can also be impossible for some people to use. Still, it’s worth mentioning.
If you have the option to move your RV out of cold weather while using it, do it! Camping is a lot more fun in the sun, and staying in a place that is nice and warm all day long can reduce or even completely eliminate the need for running the furnace. The warmer outside temperatures will also help keep condensation to a minimum inside the rig.
Not sure where to go to get warm this winter? Try one of these popular winter RVing spots:
Florida — Rarely cold. Plenty of RVing friends, beaches, and Disney World. Purchase
South Texas — Occasionally chilly enough to get a taste of the season, but rarely snowy or excessively cold. Beaches and plenty of places to explore.
Arizona — Plenty of snowbirds to befriend. Warm almost every day, but temperatures do plummet at night. Absolutely beautiful views and plenty of activities for outdoorsy folks.
Southern California — Rarely cold at all. Lots of sights to see, including Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo. Plenty of outdoorsy activities as well.
#2: Bundle Up
Can’t move? If you’re in a place with temperatures that are only moderately cold, you may be able to get away with bundling up a bit and running the furnace much less. Wearing sweatpants, a sweater, and a hat around your RV isn’t difficult or uncomfortable, and if it allows you to turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees, that’s a little less propane you have to burn through to keep warm.
Related Read: Winterizing Your RV for Travel- Surviving the Winter
#3: Get Out and About
Keeping warm during the day doesn’t have to mean running your furnace. Go explore the area you’re parked in! Museums, libraries, and community centers are heated, meaning you’ll be nice and cozy while getting out of the rig and seeing a bit more of the world. Meanwhile, your furnace can be turned off or way down, saving you a good amount of propane, especially if you can stay gone all day.
Of course, you’ll want to have a reciprocal membership so you aren’t spending money on entrance fees—and don’t forget to pack a lunch!
#4: Use the Bathhouse
Like to take nice hot showers? If you have a propane water heater you may notice the heater has to run a bit longer to take the water from icy cold to hot, using extra propane in the process. Instead of using that extra propane, head to the bathhouse. There you can take a hot shower without running out of hot water within 5 minutes. Besides, if the bathhouse is heated, you’ll get to dress in a nice warm space, something your RV may not offer if you’ve taken to turning the thermostat down.
Dry your hair there and you’ll be ready to cool off a bit on your way back to your rig.
Related Read: Why Shower in Bathhouses Instead of the RV
#5: Find Alternative Cooking Appliances
Cooking is another thing that requires propane. Of course, you have to cook year-round, so this isn’t using up any more propane than usual, but when you’re trying to cut back on your propane usage, every little bit counts. Besides, cooking with propane is one of the things that causes really heavy indoor condensation.
Instead of using your propane stove and oven to cook in your RV, why not use electricity to cook? Many RV parks include electricity in their camping fees, but even when it isn’t included, cooking electricity tends to be cheaper than cooking with propane.
Some of the best electric cooking gadgets include the Instant Pot and NuWave Oven.
Some people also like to keep toaster ovens, induction burners, and/or indoor electric grills on hand.
#6: Switch to Space Heaters
This final tip is the second most effective, coming in right behind moving somewhere warm: switch to electric space heaters. If you’re at a campground with electricity included in the rates, this just makes sense. In these situations, running the space heaters costs you nothing, and using electric heat means less moisture and therefore less condensation in your tiny home.
All that said, it is important to remember that space heaters can pose a fire hazard. Therefore, you’ll want to be sure to follow all manufacturer instructions, keep the heaters away from anything flammable, and avoid using more than a couple of heaters at a time. Units with ceramic heating elements are the safest bet, and heaters with a built-in safety shut-off are a must.
We especially love the Lasko 6435 Designer Series Ceramic Oscillating Heater for this purpose, but some people prefer the simpler Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater or Pelonis Classic Ceramic Heater.
Finding ways to cut back on propane usage will lower your camping (or living) costs, meaning you have more funds leftover to fully enjoy your travels. Hopefully you have plenty of great trips planned for winter and into the springtime!
By Chelsea Barron of whereverwewander.com