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.
No matter how good you are at conserving propane in your RV, you’ll eventually need a refill. Luckily, Good Sam members save 15% when refilling propane at Camping World locations. That kind of savings can really add up.
Tips for Conserving Propane in Your RV
In addition to this member perk, 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.
Do you have additional propane conservation tips? Share your advice in the comments below!
For $8 at a thrift store, I purchased a foam insulated single drape panel. I use an expansion rod inside the valance above the entry door to hang it at night. It’s easy to hang and remove, covers the door, and goes all the way to the bottom of the stairwell. It really cuts down on the cold air coming in from around the door.
Those were tips for staying warm. Not quite the same thing.
I love camping in our RV any time of the year and we’re in Iowa! We have single-pane windows, so using reflectix and even covering the windows with a blanket or large towel to also cover the aluminum trim around the windows and door helps. We have a small thermostat-controlled ceramic space heater in our bathroom which help, along with h a larger space he’s er in th main living area.
I guess the biggest addition for sleeping comfortably, is our heated mattress pad. It is so nice to climb into a warm bed at night, but again, it helps to be Hooked up to shore power.
Another way to conserve propane is to use an electric frying pan for your cooking. Many can be used as an oven too. check your owner’s manuals or the internet for recipes. the same for your coffee. Use a small electric drip coffee maker. If it gets cold, you can nuke the coffee to warm it up.
The real nice convection appliances are great at home but in my camper, it takes room I don’t have for storage.
Putting unneeded slides in reduces the amount of space you need to heat or cool.
We are in a permanent spot and we always put the slides in as well as all the other conservation methods when we leave as it saves propane in the winter and electricity for air conditioning in the summer.
We put a heated mattress pad on our bed and we use a down BLANKET, not a comforter. We have used a comforter in the past, but was a bit much so switched to a blanket.
This is a great tip Cathie!
I did this once to insulate the RV living area from the cab in a class C RV. It was definitely a game-changer for winter camping. Thanks so much for sharing.
These tips are designed to improve your RV’s insulation to minimize heat loss. They’ll also help you reduce how much your RV furnace runs to heat your space. Your furnace consumes a significant amount of propane compared to, say, your stovetop. So the less you run it, the more you’ll conserve propane for heating water, cooking, and/or keeping the contents of your RV refrigerator cold.
If you have other tips for conserving propane in your RV, we’d love to hear them. Thanks!
Thanks for sharing Terri! That sounds super cozy and I’m sure it helps with turning your thermostat down a little at night to conserve propane.
That’s a great tip Kathy! Thanks for adding to the conversation!
Great additional tip! Thanks for sharing!
Great call on the heated mattress pad Debi!
I know some folks that also used heated blankets like this one too: https://www.campingworld.com/electric-12v-travel-blanket—buffalo-122320.html