Most appliances in an RV are fueled by propane gas. This includes the furnace, stove, oven and hot water heater. The refrigerator is usually operated on electricity but it is fueled by propane gas when not connected to electricity.
Some higher end RVs can have an electric heat pump which will work in moderately cold temperatures but switches to the propane fueled furnace in extremely cold environments. Some RV’s can also have an electric hot water heater system that can be switched to propane gas.
At most RV parks, electricity is provided as part of your RV site rental (although we have encountered a few parks that charge for electricity). So it makes sense to fully utilize the park’s electricity instead of your RV propane supply. Most of our tips will focus on ways to use the RV park electricity instead of the RV’s propane gas.
Here are ten ways you may not have thought of to reduce the propane gas consumption in your RV:
1. If you have room to store a crock pot/slow cooker in your RV, this is a great way to prepare dinner in the morning and your meal will be ready after a day of sightseeing. In the cooler months, it also helps keep the RV warm as dinner cooks. No need to run the heat all day or come back to a cold RV!
2. Again, if you have storage space, an electric skillet can be used instead of the propane fueled stove. This uses the park’s electricity instead of your propane gas.
3. If you do not have the storage room for an electric skillet, you may want to consider what we have always called a “fifth burner”. It is an electric burner used like a stove (since most stoves have four burners – hence the name the fifth burner). Use it either inside the RV instead of the gas stove to save propane or use it to cook outdoors to save propane and keep the heat out of the RV kitchen in the warmer months! Make sure to use a heavy duty extension cord when using outdoors. There are one and two burner models available.
4. Use the RV’s electricity powered microwave/convection oven instead of the stove and oven that uses propane gas. When I cook in our motorhome, I like to make more than we will eat in one meal so we have leftovers that we can pop into the microwave to reheat.
5. We have used an electric ceramic heater to save RV furnace propane consumption. We do not recommend using a ceramic heater while away from the RV or while sleeping. We used it mostly in the afternoon or evening while watching television and turn it off before going to bed.
6. Since most RV hot water heaters are fueled by propane, consider using the RV parks bathhouse for showering. Check the park’s rules first – some parks will charge for shower use.
7. If your RV’s primary heat is the propane fueled furnace and you travel in cooler months often, you might want to invest in an electric blanket or electric mattress pad. Then turn down the RV’s furnace before going to bed and still keep warm.
8. Upon arrival at your destination and after you plug into the electrical outlet, make sure your RV refrigerator switches over from propane gas to electric. For some reason occasionally our refrigerator will not automatically switch over which burns propane unnecessarily.
9. Cooking outside on a gas grill may not save you as much propane since the gas grill uses propane but there are some benefits. If you can cook your meat plus vegetables and warm the bread all on the grill, this saves using the gas stove and oven in the RV. It also keeps the heat and cooking smells out of the RV. Plus there is the added bonus of enjoying the great outdoors!
10. Over the years, we have noticed more parks banning outdoor fires and not providing the fire pits so common years ago. This seems to be especially true for parks in the western U.S. where it is drier and more prone to wildfires. If the park you are staying at allows outdoor fires either in a fire pit or provides a grill, have a good old hotdog roast and end your meal with roasted marshmallows!
These are some of the ways we have identified to save on our RV’s propane gas consumption. You may identify other ways to save money on your propane gas consumption based on your RV’s features and your RV lifestyle. Most important is to get out in your RV and enjoy the adventure!