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How to Keep Your RV Cool In Intense Summer Heat (Beyond The AC)

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How to keep RV cool in summer

This guide on how to keep your RV cool in the summer is a guest post by Darla Preston of Care Free of Colorado. 

The temperatures outside are steadily rising.

The days are getting warmer as they come, and even those who have a penchant for hot weather are beginning to search for ways to keep cool.

While the vibes of summer offer a laid back, easy essence that’s perfect for traveling, the sticky, sweltering atmosphere can make for an uncomfortable experience.

Anyone who enjoys the RV lifestyle knows that it can be tricky managing the intense heat that comes along with the new season.

If you have AC in your RV, it’s an obvious solution, but it’s also one of the most energy-consuming appliances you can use. If you’re looking for some ideas to help you stay cool and comfortable during your next summer RV trek without overworking your AC, the following 7 tips should help you out.

Table of Contents

1. Chill Out Under Your RV Awning and Shade Rooms

RV Awning Shade

RV awnings are designed to expand your living space and provide shade coverage. It’s not easy finding any RVer who doesn’t reap the benefits of this necessary accessory, but taking the time to build a lounge-worthy area underneath your awning will make it that much more appealing when the sun rays are heating up the inside of your rig.

Lazing the day away on some comfortable outdoor furniture isn’t a bad way to spend your time, especially as the shade provides much-needed relief from the overwhelming sun. You can also further your cooling efforts and enhance your living space by creating an RV shade room. There are many awning accessories available that are designed to attach to your awning to create an entire extra room.

If you’re not looking for an entire annex, there are also simpler sun-blocking materials available that you can attach to your awning.

2. Block the Light Entering Through Your Windows

Window Awning to Cool RV

Most of the heat gain that enters into your RV comes in through your windows. Because of this, you’ll naturally want to reduce the amount of light that can enter. You can do this by installing window awnings as well as window shades.

Window shades are made of material that block light, and they function similar to blinds. Some are even transparent so that you can still look outside.

Window awnings attach to the outside of your windows, and they significantly reduce the amount of sunlight that enters in when they are retracted.

If you’re on a budget, many RVers use the affordable DIY option of applying reflective insulation (e.g. Reflectix is a popular brand), which can help reflect the sun away from your windows and minimize heat transfer.

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3. Park In the Shade

Parking in the shade to keep your RV cool

A small thing that will make a big difference is being purposeful of where and how you park your RV. If you’re staying at a campground, call ahead and try to reserve a spot with ample shade. Naturally, this will keep your RV cooler (and keep your RV tires protected from UV light).

Additionally, you can figure out what direction the sun is coming from, and angle your parking job so that the side of your RV with the most windows is directed away from that direction.

4. Hydrate Thoroughly

Stay Hydrated to keep cool

During your summer RV travels, it’s highly important to stay hydrated. You’re most likely sweating more, which means you’re losing moisture and essential electrolytes. The commonly heard advice is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but factors such as lifestyle, age, gender, weight, and weather all effect the necessary intake.

Mild dehydration can lead to headaches and dizziness, whereas severe dehydration can lead to serious health conditions, such as heat stroke (this article will help you learn the signs of dehydration). Because you’re often on the go while RVing, you’ll need to be especially proactive in ensuring you’re getting enough liquids.

Here are some tips to to help you out:

  • Avoid over-exerting yourself during the hottest parts of the day. Early mornings and evenings are generally cooler.
  • If you do go out during the hot weather, bring plenty of water along with you as well as something with electrolytes (such as Gatorade). Wearing hats to block the sun can help as well.
  • Try to spend your outdoor time in the shade if possible.
  • Be extra generous when preparing your water supply for your travels, especially if you’re boondocking. Keeping your water tank full, buying extra jugs of drinking water, investing in a quality water filter you can use on creeks and rivers, and doing what you can do conserve water will help ensure you have enough to stay hydrated.  

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5. Don’t Cook Inside During the Day

Eat Outside Your Camper

If your RV is already uncomfortably hot, avoid making things worse by trying to use the stove or oven during the day. Doing so will noticeably increase the internal temperature.

Instead, plan ahead, and eat meals that can be prepared cold, such as green salads, cold sandwiches, tasty bruschettas, fruit platters, or pasta salads. If you really want something hot, try to eat something that can easily be made in the microwave.

Alternatively, get a portable grill so you can cook outside in the shade!

6. Enjoy the Cooling Elements of the Outdoors

Cooling Off

If the sun is busy baking the inside of your RV, take the time to explore the natural cooling solutions of the great outdoors.

Swimming, boating, kayaking, river floating/tubing are just a few of the options you have at your disposal. Some RV parks even offer boating and swimming amenities, so you won’t have to wander too far from where you set up camp.

When it’s unfathomably warm outside, dipping into a cool, natural body of water can be a majestic experience, one that will sit peacefully in your memories of this summer’s adventures.

Just remember the sunscreen!  

7. Head Towards Cooler Temperatures

Cooler locations

If you try the above advice and still can’t bear the heat, remember that you’re mobile. One of the perks of owning an RV is having the ability to change locations. If you also have the free time and resources to navigate toward someplace cooler, by all means, take advantage of the option.

Areas in the Pacific Northwest, such as Lincoln City, Oregon or the Bay Area are famous for being relatively cool all year round, and they’re absolutely beautiful too. There is also tons to do in this part of the country. Being able to hike in the mountains one day and then visit the beach the next is a perfect mix of stunning sightseeing you’ll never forget.

If you’re not up to traveling too far to someplace cool, consider something simple. If all you’re looking for is a quick break from the heat, consider getting a hotel or cabin for a few days. It will be a fun way to break up your travels and lounge in some cooler temperatures.

Stay Cool!

Traveling in the summer often leads to life-affirming memories and exhilarating experiences, but the unbridled heat can certainly lead to feelings of sweaty discomfort. Hopefully now you know how to keep your RV cool in summer without melting into oblivion.

You could also get a portable air conditioner for your RV to make the summer heat more bearable!

If you have any of your own advice on how to manage the intense summer heat as a part-time or full-time RVer, let us know in the comments below!

Related Post — The Best RV Bedding Solutions for Dreamy Comfort

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