Are RVs greener than a house?

Particularly for full timers, are RVs greener than a house?

Yes, you can make your RV bright green and cheaper to run than an apartment or house. It depends on how you set it up

Are RVs greener than a house?

Here are some things that can make an RV lifestyle greener than a sedentary, home-based lifestyle:

  1. RVers don't have to travel to get to their holiday or vacation spot. People who live in a house or apartment have to drive, fly or catch a train to get to where they want to spend their free time. But the RVer is already there, having made their way there in a leisurely and economical way, having a vacation along the way as well as when they arrive.
  2. Although fuel seems to be a large part of the budget to many RVers, most find that they use less when living full-time in their RV than they did when they were commuting to work and ferrying themselves around the suburbs.
  3. Many, but by no means all, RVers use less of most utility services such as water, LPG and electricity.
  4. Because there is only a small garbage bag inside most RVs, there is not a lot of room for packaging and therefore most RVers find that it is good to buy goods that have less packaging.
  5. On many RVs, a major source of power comes from an RV wind generator or RVs solar panels. This runs the few electronic gadgets in the RV and often powers the fridge, the fans and sometimes even the air conditioner.
  6. RVs take up very little room and can free up that space, which often happens during school holiday or vacation periods when the full-time RVers move on to make room for the holidaymakers. Even when RVers stay in one spot for long periods, it is usually a small lot with very few services and very few demands on the environment.
  7. Because of the limitations imposed by the RV, RVers tend to conserve resources. For example, because of the small amount of water available in an RV, showers are shorter and clothes are worn for longer periods before washing in a sealed bucket that is agitated by the movement of the RV or by simple manual effort.
  8. Power demands are often less because the equipment is smaller such as the TV, the microwave oven (if fitted) and dishes are often hand washed rather than firing up an energy-consuming and water-hungry automatic dishwasher.
  9. Because of the lack of storage space, there's not much point in buying things unless there is a need and usually unless something else is going out the door to make room for it. This means that things are bought because of need more than because of wanting them.
  10. A bit of careful planning means that many of the needs and wants are within walking distance rather than a long way away. This means that RVers tend to walk or cycle, keeping themselves fit and saving fossil energy in the process.
  11. Even in a well insulated RV, it is more comfortable to be where the seasons suit the clothing and where the lifestyle suits the seasons. As a result, there is a fair bit of snowbirding, that is, moving to warmer spots in winter and cooler spots in summer. This keeps the energy and money spent on heating and air conditioning to a minimum.

After reading the above, you may be able to answer the original question: "Are RVs greener than a house?" Certainly for some people and in some situations they can be much greener. However someone who jumps in a large RV and crosses the continent to spend a couple of days with family and then travels back again may not be very green at all. It's all a matter of how you manage it.

For me, any RV and any house has to be pretty green. Our aim with our RV and with this website is to encourage as much greening of RVs as possible.

One of the simplest ways to get a greener RV, is to take the "less is more" approach. After all, what do you really need in an RV? The minimum can be better than the maximum and means the question "Are RVs greener than a house?" can get a "Yes" from you.

In another 10 years, we will still be asking "are RVs greener than a house?" but the goalposts will have moved and will still be moving. This is because houses are becoming greener and RVs are slowly doing so.

The RV industry has a long way to go to catch up but it is certainly moving in a greener direction and seeing green as a key part of the future, one in which the answer to "Are RVs greener?" has to be a resounding "Yes!" simply because otherwise they probably won't be bought.

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