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It’s camping season – you’re making your list, checking it twice, and getting everything all set to hit the road. But something is nagging at you – old, leaking windows that let in chilly winds, prying eyes, and fall leaves. So let’s help you insulate those windows.
A simple way to insulate RV windows is with curtains and shades. You can also buy reflective bubble sheeting, or bubble wraps to help keep the heat out of the RV. For insulation, you can also apply heat-activated window film or plexiglass covers to the frames surrounding your RV’s windows.
Single-paned windows are often one of the key culprits of heat loss. I’ll discuss how to insulate RV windows and make your camper more comfortable.
Why Insulating the RV Windows Matters
Insulating the RV windows is crucial because it keeps your vehicle’s interior at a comfortable temperature, regardless of what time of year it is. If you live in an area where winter temperatures can drop below freezing, insulating your RV windows keeps the heat inside and prevents the cold air from getting in.
Let’s take a moment to understand why single-paned windows can cause your RV to stay warm in the summer and get cold in the winter.
Any homeowner will tell you single-pane windows offer little insulation. Double-pane windows are significantly better as they seal a layer of air between two sheets of glass. As a result, less heat can exit or enter the window, helping maintain the right temperature.
But RV manufacturers use a single pane of glass for a couple of reasons. It helps:
- Cut the cost of manufacture
- Reduces the overall weight of an RV
Unfortunately, single-paned windows are poorly insulated. As a result, they can cause your cooling and heating bill to skyrocket or ruin your journey. And that’s why many RV owners consider insulating their windows before heading out on a trip.
Benefits of RV Window Insulation
RV window insulation is necessary to maintain a constant temperature year-round. It helps to keep the cold air out and the warm air in, so you can enjoy your time in your RV even on colder days. In addition, it will also keep your expenses down by reducing propane and electricity consumption.
Insulated windows reduce the load on an RV’s heating and cooling equipment to keep the interior temperature constant. That is why insulation improves its lifespan and keeps repair to a minimum.
Driving your RV with the air conditioning or heating on also consumes more gas. You can save money on gas by insulating your RV windows to maintain a better gas mileage. And even if you’re connected to a campground electric supply, insulated windows can reduce energy consumption.
Heat and sunlight can also discolor your RV’s furniture, carpet, and countertops. The best way to maintain the quality of your RV’s interior for longer is to insulate your RV’s windows.
How to Insulate RV Windows
If you own an RV with single-pane windows and want to add an extra layer of insulation, you can use curtains, shades, reflective bubble sheeting, and bubble wrap. You can also cover your windows with heat-activated window films or make a DIY double-pane window with plexiglass.
Let’s have a detailed look into each insulation method.
Curtains and Shades
Curtains, shades, and blinds are affordable RV window coverings that help keep your RV cooler during the summer and warmer in the winter.
Although blackout shades or thermal curtains made of heavy fabric are great, solar curtains are even better. They prevent the sun’s rays from penetrating the cabin and heating the RV in hot weather.
They also reflect heat into the RV in cold weather and keep your camper warm.
Tip: You can attach snaps to the sides of the window frames and fabric to keep your insulated curtains in place for better insulation.
Reflective Bubble Sheeting
Installing reflective panels can keep the sun out of your eyes. Plus, it will make your RV look cool.
Simply buy rolls of reflective insulation material, like Reflectix, and cut the correct size to cover each window.
Reflectix is made of heavy gauge polyethylene bubbles encased in aluminum foil. The outer layer (reflective foil surface) reflects heat, while the middle layer (bubble sheet) provides insulation.
Don’t worry – the material is affordable, easy to find, and convenient to put up and take down. You’ll find a ton of options from Amazon, Walmart, and eBay.
So how do these sheets of reflective material stay put?
Some RV owners use double-sided tape to stick reflective insulation to their window panes, especially on the larger windows. It’s a feasible insulation hack since you can hide the panels behind curtains and blinds.
However, some people don’t like to have reflective shades permanently attached to their windows. It blocks the light and obscures their view.
In that case, you can use removable sheets of reflective material that can slide behind your blinds whenever you need to add an extra insulation layer to your camper windows. Then, when the weather is nice, you can just roll up the sheets and store them.
The large glass surface area of the front of your RV can lead to significant heat gain in summer and loss in winter. So you should also use a removable sheet of reflective bubble insulation on the motorhome windshield.
Using bubble sheets is another cost-effective insulation material you can easily apply to your windows.
First, cut out big enough pieces that completely cover the windows. Then, dampen the glass with a spray bottle or a damp rag. Next, stick the bubble wrap pieces to the window with the bubble side facing the glass.
Heat-Activated Window Film
This technique involves using shrink plastic to cover the windows. You can apply it on the outside or the inside of the window, but you’ll get better results if you apply the film to the interior.
The downside of this technique is that you’ll no longer be able to open any windows so you cover. When I do this for winter I keep one window free of film and use the roof vent to create some ventilation.
If you’ve never used shrink plastic before, that’s okay. I’ll guide you through the steps below.
- Wipe down the windows and framing, preferably with rubbing alcohol to help the tape and plastic adhere properly. Use an absorbent cloth before applying the material to draw any moisture clinging to the surface.
- Cut pieces of plastic that are slightly bigger than the windows.
- Apply removable double-sided sticky tape to the entire perimeter of the frame and attach the plastic film.
- Once the plastic film is in place, use a hairdryer to flatten it.
What’s the benefit of using a hairdryer in the last step?
A hairdryer will cause the plastic to shrink. When the plastic shrinks, it traps a thin layer of air between the plastic and the glass. This thin layer acts as a layer of insulation. (that’s also how a double-pane glass window works).
You can create a makeshift double-pane window with plexiglass.
Buy plexiglass sheets from home improvement stores or online retailers and cut out panels using a utility knife. To avoid injury from the rough edges, sand them down before installation.
Use removable tape to the perimeter of the windows and apply the plexiglass panels. Remember to push it firmly against the glass to create an air-tight seal.
Plexiglass is thicker than the plastic insulating film mentioned above, so it’s a better insulation technique, especially if you’re in extreme weather conditions.
However, plexiglass window coverings don’t come cheap. Unfortunately, they also keep the windows from opening. So think twice before considering this type of insulation.
Upgrade Your Windows
Upgrading windows from single-pane to double-pane is an expensive yet popular choice. Most RV owners typically consider this option when buying a new RV model.
Some manufacturers offer add-ons to provide better insulation, such as double-pane windows in newer energy-efficient models.
However, single-pane windows may not be the only thing trapping or leaking heat. If the window frames aren’t air-tight, you have another insulation issue on your hands.
The caulking around the windows usually cracks and peels off over time. You can solve this issue by adding new caulking to your old windows.
Resealing the windows with a new layer of caulk and replacing the damaged weather stripping can significantly improve the insulation of your RV.
Extra Tips for Cold Weather Camping
Camping is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the US. A recreational vehicle makes the camping experience legendary. If you plan on staying in your RV or trailer this winter, I’ve got some additional tips on how you can insulate your camper for winter use.
First, bundle up warm clothes and pull out some extra blankets. If you’re camped at a site with an electric hookup, you can also use electric blankets and an indoor space heater.
Avoid using fuel-burning space heaters inside your RV for long periods. These heaters can cause oxygen levels to drop and increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Check the batteries in the fire alarm and a carbon monoxide detector for your safety before heading out on a winter camping trip.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of options to help insulate your RV windows. It all comes down to what you can afford and what works for your situation. You may find that combining one or more techniques gives the best results.
I hope this guide has helped you learn how to insulate RV windows.
So with window insulation out of the way, you can focus on gearing up for your next RV trip.