Big RVs, by nature, are not known for being very environmentally conscious. But there are many ways you can save energy and be “green” while hitting the open road. From capturing the sun’s energy with solar panels to simply unplugging unused appliances, you can cut back on the amount of energy you’re using in your RV. And with most of us trying to conserve energy and save money these days, this is good news! Let’s take a look at 10 ways to save energy while RVing.
- Solar Power
Mount solar panels onto your RV to harness renewable energy from the sun. An RV solar-power system includes solar panels, batteries, some type of charge controller, and an inverter. The solar panels work by capturing the sun’s energy and turning it into a direct current (DC power). This power is stored in the RV’s auxiliary batteries for later use. The charge controller that is part of the solar-power system ensures that the RV’s batteries are fully charged, but not overcharged. The power inverter works to convert the DC power that is stored in the batteries to alternating current (AC power) that can be used by your RV’s appliances.
When electrical hook-ups aren’t available at your campsite, you’ll want to have an inverter with you so that you can still use your appliances. The inverter takes the voltage from the RV’s engine battery (usually 12V worth of DC power) and converts it into 120V worth of AC power that your RV can use to power its appliances. This will allow RV owners to enjoy all the modern conveniences of home even when they’re on the road.
- LED Lighting
Most new RVs are equipped with LED lights, but not all of them. If your RV doesn’t have LED lighting, you should switch out your lightbulbs from traditional bulbs to LEDs to help save on power. LED lights are so energy efficient, you could leave your RV lights on day and night and never run down your batteries. For tips on how to make the most of your RV’s battery, click here!
- Rechargeable Batteries
Buy small, portable accessories that come with their own batteries, like reading lamps, radios, and laptops. If these items have rechargeable batteries, recharge them whenever you’re driving. You can do this by connecting them to a portable inverter that is plugged into the lighter outlet of your vehicle.
- Propane Gas
For appliances that can run on either electricity or propane gas (LP), choose LP to conserve energy. The refrigerator, furnace, and water heater should be run on propane. For every use that requires heat, you should switch it to gas.
To minimize the voltage drop in connecting your set of house batteries, solar panels, or your inverter, use proper cables for your 12V DC wiring. Utilize the largest cable possible that is convenient to work with and keep the wiring as short as possible.
- Unplug Appliances
It’s always a good practice to unplug items when they’re not being used. Many plugged-in appliances, such as TVs and toasters, draw a little power even when they’re not in use. You’ll save energy by simply unplugging these items when you’re not using them. What an easy way to save a little energy–and it all adds up!
- Dry Laundry in the Fresh Air
Want a way to save energy AND have your clothes smelling like a fresh summer day? Hang your wet, freshly laundered clothes up on a clothesline at your campsite instead of tossing them in your RV’s dryer.
- Fantastic Fans
Fantastic fans really are fantastic! These fans run on very low power and can circulate an amazing amount of cool air throughout your RV. Many RVs come already equipped with Fantastic Fans, but they can also be installed if your RV doesn’t have one.
- Orient your RV
Position your RV so that you maximize the cooling or heating effect from the sun depending on your need. Maximize the sun through the windows for heat or make the shade of the awnings most effective for cooling. Park your RV so that you get a nice cross ventilation of breezes on a hot summer day as well.