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Chill Tips: How to Keep Your RV Cool without Air Conditioning

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If you’re an avid camper you already know that often you’ll find yourself in campsites with no electrical hookups whatsoever. This means you can’t run an AC to cool the RV down at night when you go to relax and sleep. Using generators could do it, maybe. But even if this worked, would you want to sleep through all that noise? Here are some cheap, energy-efficient ways to cool down an RV without air conditioning when you’re roughing it.

Avoid the Sun

Set up under some shade. Find a nice big tree. You’ll be amazed at how much a difference this will make in keeping the RV from heating up. In fact, it can be up to 5 degrees cooler in the shade than in direct sunlight. If you can’t avoid the sun altogether, try to position the RV so the sun’s hottest rays will shine more along the side of the RV and less so on the windows and the entrance. You can also use awnings to keep further sunlight out.

Use window coverings, especially on your larger windows. You can buy shades or even curtains and double up with nightshades. There are even exterior shades that snap into place. There’s also a secret amongst veteran RVers, an amazingly reflective insulation bubble pack called Reflectix. Just buy it and stick it on the windows and on any sunroofs you may have. This may not be the most aesthetically pleasing alternative, but it works!

Tarps are a cheap and very effective way of creating a shaded area for yourself. Just stretch it from tree to tree or use a stick to hold up one end. You could even stretch one from your RV to a stick. Use your imagination and you’ll stay cool. If you’re willing to shell out a little extra, use a portable gazebo tent.


You want to constantly get the stale and warm air out of the RV and replace it with fresh, oxygenated, and cool air. Unfortunately, without proper preparation, the inside of your motorhome can easily get hotter than it is outside. Turn on fans, which use little power and come in many quiet varieties. First, make sure the windows of the RV are open only if they are not under direct sunlight. The cooler air will come from the most shaded windows only. If you have vents on the roof of the RV, open them to let the hot air rise up and out.

When it’s cooled off and you’re about to go to sleep, first air out all the areas where hot air gets trapped. Open anything and everything that has a door (the entrance door, all windows, the cupboards, bathrooms, the oven) and let the fans do their magic.

Remember that a fridge gets hot so shade the fridge panels from the outside to keep it cooler.

If you’ve got a ceiling fan, make use of it. If you don’t, you may want to consider getting one. It’s a very effective way of getting trapped hot air out of a small space.

Use LED Lighting

Don’t be cheap. We know these lightbulbs are more expensive, but they also save energy, last longer. And most importantly, they stay cooler – much cooler – than incandescent bulbs and CFLs.

Don’t Cook in the Kitchen

While it’s not economical to eat out all the time, you don’t really want to use the oven at all when it’s extremely hot. You can always do a lot of your cooking ahead of time and just reheat it on a campfire. In fact, the best choice of all is to really make use of that campfire, for everything from cooking meals to brewing coffee. This is what camping’s all about anyway.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.