For the sake of the planet and your purse, it is worthwhile taking a few measures to try to reduce the fuel needs of your camping vehicle as much as possible. RV adventures do not have to cost the earth – literally or metaphorically. Going green is a wonderful way to reduce the impact of your RV travels, and there are plenty of ways to make sure that you make eco-friendly decisions, whether you are vacationing in an RV, or living in an RV full-time. Reducing the amount of fuel that you use when driving an RV should be at the top of your list.
Bigger does not necessarily mean better.Consider a tiny RV or camping trailer as well as looking at larger options.
Before Choosing an RV:
Diesel vehicles, including, of course, many motorhomes on the market, are a major cause of air pollution. Diesel-based pollution kills almost half a million people each year. The particulates from diesel emissions can cause lung and heart problems and breathing difficulties.
Gas vehicles may not pollute the air quite as much as diesel vehicles, but you will use more fuel to get where you are going, and gas is also far from clean and green.
Of course all this is above and beyond the fact that fossil-fuelled vehicles come with a high carbon cost and contribute to man-made climate change. When choosing a new RV, how much fuel a vehicle uses should be one of the important factors that you consider when making your decision.
Consider Something Smaller
One of the things that will determine fuel efficiency in an RV is the size of the vehicle. It may sound obvious, but if fuel use is a consideration for you then you might wish to go for something smaller. Think carefully about how many berths and how much space you really require, and go for the smallest possible option that meets your needs.
Consider Buying an Electric RV
You may wish to consider choosing a more sustainable option and getting out there to see the world without playing a part in its destruction. The fact of the matter is that for many living the RV lifestyle, there is already an alternative out there. Fully electric motorhomes exist and as the infrastructure gradually improves, these are becoming and more and more viable option each year.
The Nissan NV200 based, Hillside Dalbury E is a fully electric motorhome. With zero emissions, low running costs and easy driving, this could be a great option for environmentally conscious RVers. Concept electric campers such as VWs BUDD-E and Nimbus show that electric vehicles are the future.
Make Your Own Electric RV
But there is currently another way to get an electric motorhome – build your own. Some enthusiasts around the world are now converting their diesel motorhomes or other old vehicles into comfortable electric campers – or turning electric vans into DIY RVs. Obviously, the DIY route is not for everyone but might be worth considering if you are a practical sort of person with the right know-how – or know people who are.
Consider a Hybrid RV
If you are not yet ready to forgo the range that a diesel motorhome can give you, or are finding that there is a dearth of charging points in your area, or the rural areas that you like to visit, then a hybrid engine motorhome could be the answer. There are a number of hybrid motorhomes on the market that give you some environmental benefits without the need to compromise on range or on where you can go.
That said, not all RV owners will be able to afford one of these new,high end electric or hybrid vehicles. So,until the prices of such vehicles come down, and until the infrastructure improves enough that electric RVs can always get where they are going, how can RV owners reduce the amount of fuel that they use?
Before You Go:
The drive to reduce fuel use in your RV should begin long before you actually set off on your travels. A little planning and foresight can make a big difference to how much fuel you use.
Reduce Travel Times & Increase the Length of Your Stays
This beautiful spot was one of the locations on an RV trip just an hour or two from our home. Have you explored destinations close to where you live?
The first thing to think about is how much time you actually spend on the road, and how much time you spend enjoying your chosen destination or destinations. Think about choosing destinations that are closer to home for your RV vacations, or about prolonging your stays in each destination you visit when living the RV lifestyle full time. Spending more time at each destination and less time on the road will not only save on fuel – it could also allow you to really make the most of your RV adventures and really get to know each place that you visit.
It could also make it easier for you to practice other green ideas in your RV – for example, it could make it far easier for you to grow at least some of your own food in and around your RV.
Get Away From Your RV as Much As Possible
Nature hikes away from your RV can take you to some truly stunning spots – and you won’t need to waste money on fuel to reach them.
Wherever you choose to go on your RV trips, the green option is to leave your RV behind as much as possible once you have reached your destination and set up camp. There are plenty of slow-travel,eco-friendly ways to explore the area you have come to visit. When you leave your vehicle behind for a while, you can really stop and,quite literally,smell the flowers, and get to know an area far better than you ever could by staying on the road.
Plan Your Route Carefully
The route you take to your destination will also have a bearing on fuel consumption. Try to research your route and avoid any traffic black spots or busy roads where the driving will be more stop-start. The more time you spend stuck in traffic,having to stop and go, the more fuel you are likely to use.
You should also make sure you know where you are going so you do not drive extra, unnecessary miles. Spontaneity can be fun, but playing it by ear can mean taking circuitous routes that could mean using a lot more fuel.
One other thing to think about when planning your route are the geography and topography of the areas through which you are travelling.
Make Sure You Make Maps and Sat Nav on Hand
Make sure you have maps, and know how to use them so you don’t get lost and waste fuel.
No matter how well you plan your adventures, there may still be times when you get lost. Make sure that you have your Sat Nav handy, and have good maps on hand (and know how to use them). That way, if you do get lost, you will not waste a lot of fuel as you try to get back on track.
Make Sure Your RV is in Good Repair
It is always a good idea to give your motorhome or campervan a good look over before you head off. Make sure you check the oil and lights and top up the screen wash. Make sure your vehicle is serviced regularly. Even a minor problem can result in a massive drop in fuel efficiency.
Check the Tires on Your RV
Make sure tires are safe and at the right pressure before setting off.
Do you always check the pressure on your tyres before you set off? You should. Tires that are not at the correct pressure can cost you time and money on the road. If the tire pressure is wrong, you can end up wasting a lot of fuel.
Keep Weight To A Minimum
When it comes to RV travel, some people like to take as little as possible while others like to bring everything, including the kitchen sink. When you pack up, think about whether you really need to lug all those heavy things around and consider how extra weight also equals extra fuel – and all the environmental and financial costs which that entails.
While You Are On The Road:
The crusade to save fuel when driving an RV does not end there. Of course, there are also things that you can do to save fuel while you are on the road. For example:
Turn Off Heating and Air-Conditioning When Not Absolutely Necessary
It is all well and good staying comfortable but if you are someone who loves to have the heating on full blast just to feel snug, or have the air-con running on a cool day then remember that turning them off will save a lot of fuel over the course of a longer journey.
Don’t Idle Excessively
When you are stopped, stop. There is no point running the engine for a long time when you are not going anywhere – it all uses fuel remember, all to no purpose. On campgrounds and in the countryside, be considerate to other campers and keep that engine off as much as you can. The same goes for when you are in heavy traffic.
Drive More Slowly and Smoothly
It can be tempting to ramp up the speed on long, straight roads, but keeping things slower and steadier can help save fuel.
At the end of the day, how much fuel you manage to save on a trip depends to a large extent on how well the vehicle is driven. Keep your speed below 60mph and try not to speed up or slow down too suddenly or too often. The more slow and steady you can be with your driving, the more fuel you can save – and those savings can really add up.
While you might not be able to move away from fossil fuels right away, every little helps and you can still do plenty to reduce your impact and make your RV adventures that little bit greener by saving fuel wherever possible. Of course, saving fuel when driving an RV is just one way to go greener. You can also save energy when staying in your RV, do what you can to save water, move towards a zero waste lifestyle, and think carefully about your food choices and eat less meat on your RV adventures. When it comes to transitioning to a more ethical and sustainable way of life – every little helps.
Elizabeth Waddington has an MA from St. Andrews University and a Permaculture Design Certificate. She is a green living consultant, with a passion for sustainable travel, permaculture and the natural world. She lives in rural Fife, just north of Edinburgh, close to the Firth of Forth on the east coast of Scotland.
No stranger to RV travel, Elizabeth has travelled all over Scotland, the UK and beyond in search of natural wonders in her RV. Her camping adventures have taken her to the Grand Canyon, up the Pacific Coast of the US, to Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons and to explore the wonders of Utah. She has travelled extensively in the Pacific Northwest, and around New England. In Europe, she has taken trips through much of the western part of the continent, travelled up to Norway, and down through Romania and Bulgaria to Istanbul. She looks forward to further eco-friendly adventures.