If you’re like most people, you’ve made a resolution to go green, or at least decrease your environmental footprint. If so, did you know that your RV can be part of your resolution? We sat down with John Clarke from Sanidumps.com, an online resource for RV dumps, sani dumps, dump points and all the practical information that RVers need when planning a camping trip. John’s first RV was a class B, which he built. He’s owned tent trailers, travel trailers and fifth wheels, and has used his parents’ tent trailer and class C motorhome. He’s also owned boats, sailboats and used a cabin cruiser, so he’s seasoned in nearly every realm of outdoor recreation.
Fraserway RV: How can I recycle as I travel, especially if I’m not always staying at a campsite?
John Clark: We save our recyclables in a recycle container in the RV until we get home, or drop them off at a recycle depot on our route. I often will search on the Internet for “[State/Province] recycle depot locations” to one nearest to us.
FW: What are some ways I can use my utilities less when travelling?
JC: Most of the time, we don’t have to worry about power as we have solar panels on our RV. There are times when the weather is poor, though, or we are located in a poor spot for solar. Utilizing LED bulbs greatly reduces the amount of power required for lights. You use the same amount of power of one incandescent bulb as 14 LED bulbs!
How you cook is another great way to save. Many times we will cook larger meals and utilize the leftovers as another meal. If we are driving in hot weather, we take what we need out of the fridge in the morning and place the items into an insulated bag for the day; this way the fridge stays cool all day long.
FW: How can I ensure that my RV (or towing vehicle) gets maximized fuel economy?
JC: Weight and speed are two main issues with fuel economy. I always rearrange what I’m taking in the RV for each trip. There are times I know I won’t use the BBQ or the fire pit, so they come out. If I’m going to drive over the mountain passes, I will empty the holding tanks before I go. Many RVers will also adjust the amount of water they are taking if they are doing a lot of hills and water is available at the location they are going to.
When it comes to speed, ask yourself if you really need to be the first up the hill, or if you can slow down and enjoy the scenery – thus using less fuel. For example, many times I pull over and enjoy the surroundings instead of fighting a head wind. On one trip, I noticed on the vehicle instrument dash that the fuel economy dropped to 6.5 MPG (US), whereas the normal number is 12-13 MPG. We found a nice spot to stay for the night and continued the next day without the head wind.
Also, you should ensure your vehicle is tuned up and that the tire pressure is correct. Low tire pressure will give you poorer fuel economy.
FW: What are some ways I can utilize nature in my money-saving, energy-cutting endeavours?
JC: Plan out your camping spot so you can make use of the elements. If it’s going to be hot outside, find a spot with more natural shade. If you are RVing early or late in the year when you will have more demands for power, camp in the sunniest spot you can find. If it’s cold outside, don’t park in a windy location as the wind will pull heat from the RV.
FW: Paper and plastic dinnerware are cheap and convenient, but they always end up in the garbage. What are my green options with this?
JC: We normally do not use plastic dinnerware; we have actual dishes for our RV. We always wipe the dishes clean with our paper napkins before we place them into the sink; this cuts down on the grease getting into the holding tanks and makes them easier to wash. We will wash our dishes once each day and use a wash container, which is smaller than the sink and reduces the amount of water required.
FW: I love taking a hot shower. Is there any way to enjoy this without using my water or utilities?
JC: Sure! Visit a campground or visit public showers in your location. You can also purchase a shower head which reduces your water usage.
FW: What are some ways I can make practical improvements to my RV’s appliances and utilities to make them more energy-efficient?
JC: When it comes to appliances like your fridge, stove, water heater or furnace, it’s not recommended to make changes unless you are qualified or have a qualified RV tech do the work. If the work is done by a qualified person, one thing you can do is change your hot water tank out for an on-demand hot water system (a tankless system that heats water as it passes through). These use less energy, but are not an option on all makes and models, so consult a certified RV tech for this idea.
For powering your utilities, I highly recommend adding solar. Solar helps the RV batteries last longer and, most of the time, you are not worried about your batteries running low. A nice thing about solar is that you do not need to install the whole system at once. You can see my own journey with solar by clicking here.
For any other go-green questions, contact the friendly folks in your local Fraserway RV RV Parts and Camping Store!