When most people head out RVing, they choose to venture into the wild blue yonder during the more beautiful months of the year. However, if you’re like me, then you prefer to RV as much as possible, even when the weather is not very accommodating.
Unfortunately, warmth and insulation in an RV can be an issue for many people. When the temperature drops, you feel it a lot more than you would inside your own home. Although this may seem like a reason to avoid RVing in the cold, the fact is that you can make some simple adjustments to improve the conditions inside of your rig.
Today I’m going to show you how to insulate your RV windows. This is a simple and effective procedure that will make a significant difference in how you feel inside your motorhome. Since your windows are the least efficient insulators, doing this will help make winter travel much more viable.
What You’ll Need
At first, you may think that insulating your RV windows is a complicated or expensive process. Fortunately, you would be wrong.
There are a few low-tech methods that work wonders at trapping heat inside your RV, although they are not necessarily the best looking. Today I’ll show you both kinds of insulation options, from taping thick material to the panes to adding a semi-permanent solution. Depending on your time and budget, you can pick the method that’s right for you.
- Tools and Materials
- Double-sided tape
- Bubble wrap
- Velcro strips
- Window insulator film
- Styrofoam sheeting
- Hair dryer
- Measuring tape
Overall, you can work with tape and/or velcro for most of these insulation methods. However, if you decide to use window insulator materials, then the hair dryer is necessary so that you can shrink it and make it stay on the pane for a long time.
Step by Step Guide
To make things easier for you, I will outline the steps involved in each method. Before we begin, I want to make sure that you know which options I will be discussing. They are-
- Bubble Wrap Window Covers
- Semi-Permanent Window Insulator
- Removable Reflectix
- Temporary Styrofoam Sheeting
Each option has its pros and cons, and you may have to double up if the temperatures drop significantly. I’ve been stuck in the snow before with my RV, and it’s never a good time if the icy air can get into your rig. In those cases, you may want to triple-layer your windows just to save on propane.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
This is probably the simplest and most affordable way to insulate your windows. Depending on your shopping habits, you may have some leftover wrap from different items you’ve bought in the past. Otherwise, you can pick up a roll for relatively cheap at most home improvement stores.
What I like about bubble wrap is that it’s translucent. You can get some light into your rig without the cold air. As long as you’re not trying to see what’s outside, bubble wrap is a perfect method of insulation. However, if you have kids, you should expect them to see it as a game, especially if they’re stuck inside the RV for hours on end.
Another cool thing about bubble wrap is that you can get different colors to add some creativity to the mix.
Step One: Measure Your Bubble Wrap
For better insulation, I suggest making it a little bigger than the window itself. This will allow you to prevent air from leaking in through the frame.
Step Two: Cut Your Wrap
You have to use a really sharp knife or a pair of scissors for this. If not, you’ll wind up tearing the material, which can leave gaps around the edges.
Step Three: Attach Velcro or Double-Sided Tape
With this kind of window insulation, you want to be able to remove it when you don’t need it anymore. It’s a low-tech option that can look kind of tacky, so you don’t want it to be stuck there for too long.
Step Four: Stick the Wrap to the Window
Work slowly and make sure that there are no gaps in between. The tighter the fit, the better results you will get.
And that’s it! It’s a simple solution that provides really great insulation. Also, you can double up pretty quickly. I suggest merging the two layers first and then attaching them to the window so that it will work better.
There are a few brands that make this kind of film for windows, so find the one that has the highest rating (I like 3M). What’s great about this option is that it’s semi-permanent, meaning that you can attach it once and you’re done for the season.
Usually, it will start peeling after a while, so you can redo the whole window when that happens. However, depending on the brand and how well you did it the first time, you should get at least a year’s worth of travel or more.
Step One: Measure the Insulator
Since you’re going to shrink it to fit the window, it should be larger than the pane itself. Check the instructions to see if it mentions a specific measurement (i.e., half an inch). This will ensure that you get the right level of insulation.
Step Two: Attach the Double-Sided Tape
Most of these kits come with their own tape, but feel free to use different ones if you prefer.
Step Three: Shrink the Insulator
A hairdryer is the fastest and simplest way to do this. I suggest doing this when you have power because you’ll have to work for a while. I recommend moving slowly and steadily to ensure that you remove all air bubbles from the film. Although there will still be some, any large pockets of air will defeat the purpose, and you may have to start over.
Step Four: Remove Any Excess
Usually, there will be a little bit of insulator left over on the sides. Although you don’t have to remove it, I think it looks bad, so I like to cut it out and make the edges smoother.
What’s also nice about this method is that the insulator is almost invisible. Thus, light is never an issue, and you can keep it on for much longer. It doesn’t look tacky, and it works great.
This material is fantastic for a couple of reasons. First, it keeps cold air from coming in, and second, it reflects heat back into the RV so that you can make it more efficient. Compared to most other insulation options, Reflectix is going to save you the most propane, so keep that in mind.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow any light, so that can be kind of a bummer. Although you can set it up to be removable, it can still be a pain. Overall, I recommend this only if you know that you’re going to be burning a lot of propane and you aren’t worried about sunlight.
Step One: Measure and Cut Your Reflectix
Cutting this is much easier than bubble wrap, but it can be harder than the window insulator. As always, make sure that your knife or scissors are really sharp.
Step Two: Attach Velcro to the Window/Reflectix
I suggest putting the rough side of the Velcro on the window pane and the soft side on the Reflectix. I find that it holds better this way. If you want better results, line up the Velcro along the entire edge. However, you can also put it up with sections to keep your window from looking too tacky.
Step Three: Velcro the Reflectix
This material is a bit thicker than you might think, so be sure to run your hand along the edges to get it to stick properly.
I think of this method as a last resort. The reason I say that is because you have to store the styrofoam when it’s not in use, which can be a huge pain. The material is fragile and can break easily, and it’s not simple to put away. However, when it comes to insulation, it works better than almost anything.
When buying styrofoam, you have to get sheets that you can cut yourself. If you try to attach smaller pieces to fit the window, it won’t work very well. However, if you’re using this in conjunction with another insulation method, smaller components can be easier to store.
Finally, remember that this will not let in any light.
Step One: Measure and Cut Your Styrofoam
I suggest using a knife instead of scissors. It will be much simpler to do. Also, mark your line with a pen or marker beforehand so that you’re sure that you’re straight.
Step Two: Attach Velcro to Window and Foam
Just like with the Reflectix, I suggest the rough side on the pane and the soft side on the foam.
Step Three: Attach the Velcro
When putting this up, be sure to avoid breaking the corners. You can also tape the edges with duct tape to keep it from coming apart, but it makes it look even tackier.
As you can see, insulating your windows will take some time and ingenuity to get it right. However, if you reuse these sections and keep them in good condition, then it will be infinitely easier to put them back up next time you’re out and about.
Thanks for reading my blog and I hope that you found this information educational. Now you can go RVing all year long!