Dear EarthTalk: My wife and I drive more than 20,000 miles a year in our recreational vehicle (RV) which gets about seven miles to the gallon, but high fuel prices are eating into our nest egg. Are there more fuel efficient ways to enjoy the RV lifestyle?
—Walter Hendricks, Tampa, Florida
Major RV manufacturers all report a downturn in sales since the price of fuel started to skyrocket a few years ago. A typical RV weighs more and gets worse gas mileage than an 18-wheeler truck, and those who might have bought one in the past to save money on lodging and food on their road travels are now realizing that filling “er up might end up costing more than hotels and restaurants.
But as with the auto and truck industry overall, some RV manufacturers are scrambling to incorporate new features and design new models with better fuel efficiency and a lower overall carbon footprint.
According to the website RV.net, several factors go into designing a greener RV. First and foremost is reducing weight, which can be accomplished by using lighter materials and improving the structural design. Reducing the size of RV engines also can help reduce fuel consumption (as well as overall weight)—if owners can live with trading off some horsepower, that is. More efficient transmissions, better aerodynamics and increased non-powered engine cooling round out the suggestions on RV.net.