We have lived in our RV for a little over a year now and are in our second winter living in this RV. It ended up freezing many times while living in here and even snowed a few times too, in fact, we have snow right now! So today I’ve got some great tips for wintering full-time in a RV, taken from our personal experience last year and what we’ve been through this year. We definitely learned this the hard way. Keep in mind that we also have three young children (Little Bear was born last year in October), so our efforts were on keeping this RV as warm as a normal house, as we have children who don’t sleep under blankets or like to wear warm clothes constantly. So here are our top seven tips to wintering full time in a RV.
1.Buy a dehumidifier!
This is hugely important for the health of the family! We live in the Pacific Northwest, where it is moist and humid constantly. Add in the warm interior of the RV, the cold weather outside and poor insulation, lets just say it was dripping constantly inside the RV. We had mold and water damage to books, clothes and even our mattress! Buying this dehumidifier was a game changer! No more do we have water dripping everywhere and damaging our possessions. We are happily water and mold free.
2. Purchase extra propane tanks.
Our RV came with two 7 gallon propane tanks for the RV. While these are great, in the winter, they don’t last long. We ended up having to fill up both tanks twice a week. This quickly gets expensive; we were spending over $200 a month just on propane. I know a lot of full RV couples use a small portable propane heater, saving lots of money, but for us that just doesn’t work. We have toddlers, which means we couldn’t put it on the floor, and no place that was tall enough to be out of reach had the space to hold one. So while we can’t avoid the cost of heating our home with the built-in propane furnace, we can reduce the amount of times we had to go get propane in a week. This is also helpful for when a winter storm comes along; if you keep up on filling the propane tanks, you can usually outlast the storm, rather than needing to go buy propane in the middle of one (not great when it’s snowing and you live up on a steep mountain like we did last year).
3. If you’re leaving for overnight or weekend visit, leave the heat on!
We learned this the hard way! We were spending a night or two away from the RV and decided to turn off the heater. We weren’t going to be there, so why waste the money on all that propane? Big mistake. When we came back, we had no water available (all the water had frozen in the RV pipes) and the kitchen water pump wasn’t working (the water in the pump froze as well). Thankfully, our RV has an enclosed underbelly, so we just fired up the heater in the RV and the next day, everything unfroze. But we learned our lesson, leave the heat on when you leave in the winter! If we didn’t have the enclosed underbelly to our RV, it would have been a nightmare to unfreeze all those pipes and the pump.
4. Leave water running, disconnect water hose, or purchase heat tape if freezing at night.
This is also very important. The hose that is outside the RV will freeze solid if the weather gets cold enough. So you have three options, leave water running in all the sinks at night, disconnect the water hose and drain it, or buy heat tape. Where we were living last winter was on a private property and whenever the water ran, the people living in their house could hear it. Apparently, it was very loud and obnoxious. So running the water all night was out. Our only other option was that my husband disconnected the water hose from both ends and drained the hose. It was annoying, but necessary, because if we didn’t, the hose would freeze solid and sometimes it took days to unfreeze. At our place this winter, we bought some heat cable, wrapped our water hose with it and it’s working wonderfully. I highly recommend the heat tape if you can!
5. Wear warm clothes!
Now, this may seem silly, as I already have explained that we keep our house pretty warm during the winter. However, whenever I sit on our couch, I can feel a draft. The couch is situated in a slide out, so this makes sense. To cope with it still being cold, even with the heat on, I wear pants and a long sleeve shirt. I also have my couch decorated with two blankets, in case someone gets really cold. The children were always dressed in pants and long sleeve with slippers or socks on as well to combat any drafts on the floor.
6. Keep a tea kettle filled with water on the stove.
Whatever your brand of hot drink, this is one of the quickest ways to warm up when it cold outside. We always keep coffee (instant or using a French press), a wide assortment of tea and hot cocoa on hand. Our tea kettle was used all the time last winter. When I would get an unexplained chill and knew that the heat was warm enough and I was wearing warm clothes, I always turned to a hot drink next. It became one of my favorite things to have on hand.
7. Use a slow cooker or Instant Pot to cook meals.
With keeping warm so important, I’m reluctant to use our stove for anything other than heating up water. I don’t want to waste propane if I don’t have too. Enter in a slow cooker and/or Instant Pot. I can make warm, comforting and filling meals using electricity rather than the precious propane. I made the majority of our meals last winter using a slow cooker, which made me feel less guilty about using the stove for hot water or the occasional baked good.
So for us, extra propane on hand to keep warm, a few basic tips to keep the water from freezing, warm water for a hot drink, warm clothes to combat drafts and crockpots for warm filling meals completes my collection of winter tips to living in a RV. I hope these tips help you keep warm if you end up living or even just camping in a RV during the winter time. It’s completely doable and makes this full time RV living journey possible.
Would you stay in a RV during the winter?