Easy ways to cut down on unnecessary electricity usage

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By Bob Difley
One of the skills for making boondocking more enjoyable if you haven’t installed solar panels is the efficient use of your available electricity, which will reduce the length of time you need to run your generator or engine to recharge batteries. Recharging batteries always takes longer than you think, and the sound of a running engine can detract from the otherwise peace and quiet of boondocking in the wild.

So the simplest and most efficient skill is learning where and how much electricity your rig uses and what you can do to reduce this usage. First the simple stuff:

  • Turn off all lights, including porch light and unneeded inside lights.
  • Turn off TV, radio, computer, etc., when not in use. Don’t leave electronics in stand-by mode, which still drains the battery.
  • Next, change your old electricity-using habits acquired from too many years of too much cheap electricity. Get up in the morning with the sun and go to bed at night when the sun does (well, mainly in the summer), saving the use of lights.

You can both recharge your batteries and stall their depletion by lumping heavy electrical usage together while running your generator. For example, if it’s been a hot day, use the dinner hour to run your roof air conditioner to reduce interior temps and your microwave for cooking. Then wash your evening dishes while your partner showers (both using the high-usage water pump), then you shower while your partner dries – all accomplished in a little over an hour of running time. Your batteries will have lost none of their stored electricity, and you will have given them a boost as well.

  • Have plenty of rechargeable AA batteries for your book light, instead of using an interior light that drains your main house battery. Recharge when you get to hookups or with an inverter while on the road.
  • Train yourself to enjoy quiet, so that you don’t automatically turn on the radio or television just to have some noise.
  • Cut down on your TV time by taking a walk after your evening meal. You not only reduce your TV time, but will get needed exercise and help digest your meal. And this time of day is the active period for birds and wildlife, so bring your binoculars.

You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.

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MikeJ

“ go to bed at night when the sun does”. I got a kick out of that one. In Alaska, during the summer, you would be up two months straight, and during the winter you would never get up.

Robbie

We have used solar for 14 years of boondocking. This winter they camped about 100 yards from us after we had been setup for about a month. They ran their open-framed generator hour-after-hour. What upset us the most was that they ran it at sunset,…every day. We wanted to talk with them to maybe preserve and hour after sunset for no generator use, but because of the virus decided to not take the risk. I’m sure they didn’t like listening to it either, so my best tip, buy more batteries for storage so you don’t have to run the generator so much.

Dan

I have so many ideas for the novice campers I’m writing a blog on the topic. Headlamps instead of lights. I have 200 watts of solar and all LED lights and I still use my headlamp.

Saving electric on hot water??
Spray bottles in the kitchen. 16 ounce each, one with water and one with soapy water. Uses a lot less water.

…not elect but propane. Cold water coming out of your shower till it reaches the right temp? A 2.5 gallon collapsible tub. Use the water to clean dishes, flush toilets, or what I like is to wash some clothes. I also have a collapsible drying rack that fits in my tub/shower stall.

Sharon B

I was looking at RV parks in Arizona. Some of the prices are surely good, but the summers are brutal. The electric on some of these in these parks but when off you have to rely on battery power with obvious good solar power. My question is how do the RV’ers handle these 100 degree days with limited electric??

Bill Semion

Use solar powered lights like our Luci Light.

mark b

I have a TV in my RV. Never have used it. If there is news or video to watch, I whip out the chromebook, which runs 10+ hours on a very small charge.

My water pump only runs when I actually use water. I turn off the water in shower after brief wet down, soap up with water off, then rinse off. Little water used and very little pump time.

Even less water and pump for dishes. I put water into the washing tub. Soap all the dishes, empty the tub and then put in my rinse water.

I have a headlamp for late night reading. Those AAA batteries last for a book or two.

Never have used the air conditioner; I avoid staying in FL, TX, NM, AZ during extremly hot days/nights. I wouldn’t want solar for this function.

I reserve the batteries for furnace, circuit board for refrig, flushing the crapper, cpap and electric mattress pad (if cold. yes, that’s a luxury), in that order. Everything else can be deferred.

John Goodell

You forgot a big one for people who don’t have late model RV’s: convert all your lights to LED’s.

Will

Or better yet, leave your TV and radio at home. I don’t get the constant need for news, sports or TV programming specially when most of it is full of manipulative, useless drama. We simply take books on our month or two sojourns. When we get home, guess what? It’s the same overblown news and programming that was on the idiot box a month or two earlier.

Since we retired three years ago, my wife and I are active participants in shrinking our world. If something is not about us, our kids, or grandkids, or within walking distance from our home, it’s just not important any more. We’re much healthier and much more calm now-a-days.

Bill T

We have always been doing this. We carried over most of our tent “camping thinking” when we purchased the first of our RV’s. A lot of forums, articles and videos all seem to be geared toward the “fulltimers” and “millennials” who have the need to bring “all” their sticks and bricks amenities with them. My wife and have been “RV camping” for years and have stayed “off the grid” for a week or more, at a time, with just our factory installed group 27, 160 amp/hour battery and onboard generator. This was a refreshing article and thanks for posting. You don’t need thousands of dollars of solar to enjoy the outdoors.