Friday, December 15, 2006

tread lightly

One can move towards living more green in a small trailer. We definitely leave a smaller overall footprint on the environment than most. Think of how much energy and water is used in houses, condominiums, or apartments compared to that of an RV. Rigs also consume significantly less energy for heating and cooling. Space constraints limit the number of electricity-using gadgets. Hopefully, one would also choose to do with a minimum of these, anyway. RV heads flush with minimal water. And then there are Navy showers to further conserve water.

Granted fuel consumption is a factor, but remember total mileage is far less than commuters, let alone what trucks and planes consume. My yearly loop only racks up about 6,000 miles.

Possibly the best way to reduce our impact on the environment is to consume fewer resources. RVers can take shorter trips and stay longer at each camping spot, thus saving fuel and reducing emissions. Keep the tow vehicle tuned up, replace the fuel and air filters, lube the wheel bearing, inflate tires properly, make sure brakes are not dragging, get rid of excess pounds (unneeded items, water, gray, and black tanks), etc, to get the best gas mileage (and drive 55). Also keep up on RV maintenance so the rig lasts longer.

Go solar for clean energy. Mount a permanent panel on the roof and have another portable one for when parked in the shade. Convert to long-lasting compact fluorescent lights or LED’s, turn off unnecessary lights, and nix those decorative patio lights. Install switches in DC lines so electronic gear is not drawing continuous juice.

Just parking in the shade in hot weather and out in the sun in cold weather will save quite a bit of energy. The patio awning will also help keep that side of the trailer and the refrigerator cooler. Window awnings are also helpful.

If you have a pilot ignition water heater, keeping it set to ‘Pilot’ rather than ‘On’ will save quite a bit of propane. The water is, surprisingly, generally more than hot enough. If you have a direct spark water heater, at least turn it off at night. Converting to an on-demand tankless water heater is also an alternative.

Unless it is below freezing, the furnace or catalytic heater can also be turned off at night. It’s more energy efficient to use a good sleeping bag or throw on an extra blanket. Small fiberglass trailers heat back up in just a few minutes.

Install a water filter instead of buying bottled water. Landfills are overflowing with all those plastic bottles. Recycle what you can, while shopping bring your own bags instead of using the store’s plastic ones, exchange books rather than buy them, bicycle instead of take the car if going less than a couple of miles, and just get into a reducing/conserving mindset.

There are all kinds of sites where one can get more ideas on leaning towards green. If one is interested in figuring out one’s carbon footprint, check out:

Merely cutting down on consumerism helps a great deal. Resist the urge to buy. Once one learns how to do it, it becomes second nature.

There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man
than the way in which they can build
and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’