How to Stay Warm in Your RV

Digging out my van at Pinery Provincial Park
Shovelling out

Staying warm on a cold winter’s night can be challenging living in a non-four-season RV. On February 1st, it will be six years since I started this RV Life. I have learned a few things along the way. I hope a few of my tricks and tips will help keep you warm when that north wind blows.

Window Coverings

I learned early on that the thin curtains that came with my Roadtrek were not going to be sufficient to keep out the cold or the light. I had to figure something out that would block the street light when I slept in parking lots and insulate me from the cold. My daughter, Tanya, and I got together and decided on blackout curtains with an insulated fabric sewn on the back. The curtains pulled tight against the windows to keep those north winds at bay, using the clip and rails already there (with some new ones ordered from Amazon). We created curtains that not only help with the cold but also insulate and help keep the van cool on those hot summer days.

Display of curtains
Insulated curtains

With the back windows, I knew there would be too much space between the windows and the curtain to keep the wind out. My girlfriend Diane came up with a great idea of styrofoam insulated panels that would fit tightly into the window openings and cover the space where the back doors meet. We wrapped them in the same curtain material, and I had a nice picture I liked enlarged and put on canvas. The panels attach to the window framing with velcro. Cutting the picture in half, we glued it on the panels and got a result I really enjoy.

Display of back window panels
Back window panels

Floor Coverings

Covering the bare metal floor was a must. Not only was it extremely cold in the winter, but it was also hot in the summer after a long drive. The metal floor will get hot from the heat of the road and the exhaust. For the first few years, I had bath mats as flooring. They were thick and plush, keeping my toes sort of warm while also being wet-resistant with a non-slip back.

Bath mats on the floor keeping the my toes warm
Bath mats on the floor

I then found something just in passing at a store called Hart in Seaway Mall in Welland. Puzzle flooring is a flooring you would normally find where children play. This puzzle flooring is designed with the same wood grain as my cabinets. The puzzle flooring adds that extra insulation I was looking for. I love how it turned out. It serves the purpose and looks nice. With the bath mats on top, it adds a nice layer of protection from the cold.

Puzzle flooring and finished floor with mats
Puzzle flooring and bath mats

The Walls

In the winter, when the wind blows hard, or the temperature drops to minus OMG, the air hurts my face, cold the cold will seep in everywhere. When I first moved into the van, I had the back as one king bed. I would buy body pillows and pack the edges of the bed with them to put a layer of protection between myself and the walls. I decided a few years ago I needed more living space. I took down the king bed and made a couch and a single bed. It opened the inside of the van up so much I loved the extra living space.

Back of the campervan as a King sized bed and a couch and single bed
More living space

It also opened the inside to more ways cold air could get in. The pillows against the wall would not work due to the lack of sitting space. Leaning against the wall while I sat or feeling the wind come through was chilling. I came up with an idea of a temporary wall. Something I could put up in the winter and take it down in the summer. Something plastic to hold back the moisture that can develop, but not plastic because it will be cold to lean against.

I wanted something to cover the wall from the top of the window to the bottom, where the bench meets the wall, covering the whole window area. It also had to have the ability to be folded back out of the way to let light in. Well, that is not asking too much, is it? Haha!

My Winter Warming Wall

It would have to be a material on the outside and plastic on the inside. As I got into a shower, I realized that was what I was looking for, a fabric shower curtain. It would have to have some kind of insulation, and I need a temporary solution to hang it on painted fabric. Talking with my sister-in-law, Yvonne, who is a fabulous sewer, she suggested quilting batting for the insulation and upholstery T-pins to hold it in place. This turned out fabulous. I enlisted my daughter Tanya’s help. She cut the pattern and folded the material with the plastic lining inside. Laying a piece of the quilting batting in the middle, she pinned it, and I sewed it.

It is a great insulator, and I can open and close it with the push of a pin.

Temporary insulated wall installed
Temporary Insulated wall
Temporary wall opened to allow light
Opened to allow light.

Insulate Where You Can

Insulating the areas that are accessible can help keep the cold from moving in. I find that if there is a strong wind, I can feel a breeze come in from the air conditioning unit. I covered the front of the opening with quilt batting behind the plastic panel. Rolling the batting to put in any larger crevices will help keep those breezes at bay.

Quilting batting used to insulate AC unit
Insulating the front of the AC unit

I removed the microwave when I first moved in. I have never really used a microwave unless I was warming a cold coffee, so for me, it was not a needed item. I decided to make it into a knick-knack shelf. The back of the shelf already had some insulation in it. I made a styrofoam board wrapped in the same blackout curtain as the windows and glued a favourite picture on it. I noticed some cold coming through the shelf. I pulled the styrofoam panel away and found the insulation had fallen away. I used the extra batting material, cutting it to size and layering it until it filled in where the insulation would be. It worked well to keep the cold on the outside.

Quilting batting used to insulate Knick-Knack shelf
Insulating my knick-knack shelf

A Few More Tips I have Learned Along the Way

  • By far, the most important thing is to keep that furnace running. Making sure your propane is always more than half full in the winter is paramount. If a storm hits and you are forced to stay somewhere, you want enough propane to last until you can get moving again. To keep the house battery charged you may need to start your engine, so make sure your gas gauge is above the halfway mark.
  • Keeping a watch on the weather so you can be prepared for a big snowfall or cold snap. Knowing when you need to find a safe place to go or find a plug to run a small space heater helps avoid an emergency. In the winter, the weather app is the most used app on my phone.
  • I always carry a small shovel. It fits nicely in the back of my campervan. It has come in handy a few times to dig myself out of a snowy situation.

Celebrating six years of RV Life on February 1st, I look back and revel at the things I have learned, how I have adapted, also how many times I have dug myself out of the snow. Lol. Check out my blog Living this RVLife, and walk down memory lane with me.

I hope sharing some of the things I have done will help you keep a cozy home inside even when it is not so cozy outside.

What tips and tricks do you have to stay warm in your RV? Leave them in the comments. Every little piece of warmth helps on a cold winters day.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure. See you next week.


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