There are many reasons you might burn through your propane: big outdoor barbecues, camping in cool temps and cranking your RV furnace, running your RV refrigerator when boondocking, and more.
There are a few very easy ways to reduce propane usage so you can keep your RV adventures rolling — and save money too.
Tip #1: Put Reflective Foil on your RV Windows
Your RV isn’t insulated like your home — most RV windows are not double-pane. Most of the heat loss in your RV happens through your windows. The more heat that’s lost through your windows, the more propane you will burn to keep your RV at a comfortable temperature.
Travel trailers and motorhomes built with dual-pane acrylic windows help to minimize heat loss. But if your RV features single-pane windows like most, adding reflective foil is a great way to reduce heat loss and conserve propane.
Reflective foil is a very easy and inexpensive way to insulate your windows, keeping warm air in and cold air out. Less heat will escape through your windows, your RV then stays warmer, and your propane furnace will turn on less, reducing the frequency with which you need to find propane service to refill.
You can buy a pre-sized reflective foil cover for your RV door’s window. For all of your other windows, you can buy a roll of reflective foil.
Start by measuring the dimensions of the windows you want to cover. That’ll help you determine how much reflective foil you need. Once you have your roll, cut panels down to size for all of your windows. Place a small label on one side of each panel to remember which windows they’re for.
If you cut the panels to the correct size, they can fit in the tracks used to slide open your windows. Or, they can be placed between the window pane and the screen. Another option is to use double-sided Velcro tape to secure your foil panels and still retain the ability to remove them as needed.
Tip #2: Install an RV Vent Insulator & Sky Light Cover
Your RV vents are another major source of heat loss in the cooler months. A simple solution is to block your RV vents with RV vent insulator cushions. These cushions come in the standard RV vent size and typically boast a soft fuzzy side and a reflective foil side.
They provide additional insulation and reduce heat transfer, so you can use them to increase the effectiveness of your RV’s air conditioning in the warmer months as well. For winter RV camping, these cushions are an inexpensive way to reduce how much your RV furnace runs, conserving your LP gas.
When installing vent or skylight covers, the fuzzy side faces into your RV, and the reflective side faces out. As a bonus, vent and skylight covers keep sound and light out, so you’ll even get a better night’s sleep.
Tip #3: Invest in a Portable Electric Heater
Supplementing your RV’s heating system with a portable electric space heater is another great way to conserve propane in your RV. Remember that you’ll need to be plugged into a power source (electric hookup or portable generator) to power this type of heater.
For long-term RV campground stays, pay attention to whether you’re being charged for electricity based on usage. If this is the case, it may make sense to rely more heavily on propane to heat your RV and keep your heating bill down.
But your heating costs will differ depending on location and fluctuating electric and propane prices, so you’ll need to do a little math to determine the most economical and energy-efficient solution to heat your RV.
Tip #4: Rely on (or Install) a Gas/Electric Water Heater
Older RVs were mostly built with gas-only water heaters for heating water. But newer models can heat cold water using propane gas or electricity. And some even feature tankless RV water heaters.
If your RV has a gas and electric water heater, utilizing the electric heating method will give you hot water without burning through your precious propane reserves. But this consumes energy from your RV batteries, so you’ll need to be wary of balancing your two main energy sources (propane and electricity) when dry camping.
Tip #5: Cuddle Up Under Wool Blankets at Night
Your furnace works the hardest to heat your RV at night. So you can conserve propane gas by cuddling up under heavy wool blankets or comforters. At the same time, you’ll need to turn down the setting on your programmable thermostat to reduce propane consumption.
The main problem with this method is arguing over who gets out of bed first in the morning to turn the thermostat up again. But over the course of your colder camping trips, this is a great way to conserve propane while still staying warm at night.
Wool blankets are extremely warm and make a huge difference, lowering most people’s ideal toasty temp by a few degrees. As an added bonus, you get a lot of warmth for very little thickness, which saves you storage space — especially if you’re converting any beds at night.
Wool blankets can be a bit pricey, but they’re warm, durable, and will become a camping staple you’ll be able to pack in your RV for a long time to come.
There are much better things to spend your money on this fall camping season than constantly refilling your RV propane tanks. Fall is one of the best camping seasons if you’re warm and toasty. Have fun this fall camping season.
See you on the road!