Why Is My RV Electric Bill So High? Explained

Noticed your electric bill on the high side and trying to figure out what exactly could be the main cause? There are actually a number of potential causes. We have put together a list of the 12 most common reasons why, and some helpful tips to help you lower your bill and be more energy-efficient going forwards.

So why is my RV electric bill so high? the common reasons include having extra batteries, a poorly functioning electric system, having several air conditioners, fluctuation of voltage, having a device that is not efficient, having a poorly insulated unit, the effects of weather, heating and cooling units.

why is my rv electric bill so high

12 Reasons Why Your RV Electric Bill Is So High

As mentioned above, there are quite a few different reasons why the electricity bill for your RV is so high. Let’s take a look at the 12 common reasons;

1. Fluctuating Voltage

One of the most common causes of a very high electricity bill is if the voltage constantly fluctuates. This is something that generally happens on campgrounds, and this voltage can start to differ due to many reasons. 

One of the reasons may be that you have a damaged electronic device that is using more electricity than it is supposed to.

There may also be an electronic device that is experiencing a short circuit. If you think that the voltage is fluctuating, this is something that you will need to take care of.

RV power generator

2. Using Multiple AC Units

Another very common cause is from using multiple air conditioners. RV’s can get pretty hot, especially when parked in the sunlight, which is why most people will use air conditioners. Now, the simple fact of the matter is that air conditioners usually are not very energy efficient. 

Even those air conditioners that are energy efficient per se, still use a good deal of energy. If you have a large RV, you may be using more than one air conditioner to keep it cool.

On that note, maybe you just have an air conditioner that is not energy efficient in the least. The hotter it is outside and the more you run your air conditioner, the more electricity you are going to use.

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3. Using Extra Batteries

The next common cause is by using extra batteries. Generally speaking, the best scenario is if there is only a single battery that provides your RV with all of the electricity it needs. However, there are some RV’s or some RV owners that use additional battery systems. 

For instance, if the RV uses 12 volts, some people may choose to use two separate 6 Volt systems organized in parallel rows.

Sure, they work just fine, but they will increase the amount of power used. A difference like this can result in an additional 10 kilowatts being used per day, which will definitely affect your electricity bill.

4. Using Generators

If you have lots of appliances in your RV and you want to power all of them, the battery is probably not going to have enough juice. For this reason, many people do use backup generators to power their additional appliances. 

With that being said, although generators do produce electricity, they also require small amounts to start producing it.

Using a generator for long periods of time may very well jack up your electricity bill. This is especially the case when the generators are used more than the battery of the RV can handle.

5. Not Enough Propane

Another common cause is if you don’t have enough propane. For instance, if you’re RV uses a propane generator to power some of the appliances, if you don’t have enough propane, the generator won’t be able to function properly. 

If this is the case, you are going to end up drawing electricity from the battery, or from the source that you are plugged into. Therefore, if you don’t have enough propane, your RV system is going to turn to another source of energy, and that is going to cost you money.

6. RV Lighting

Another simple reason why the electricity bill in your RV might be very high is that you are using too many lights. Whether you are only using the lights already installed in your RV, or you install additional lights, this could very well be the cause. 

Yes, this does of course depend on how energy efficient the light bulbs in question are. However, light bulbs in general just aren’t overly efficient, and the more of them you use, the higher your electricity bill is going to be. That said, RV’s can be a bit dark on the inside, so people often have many lights running.

7. Inefficient Devices 

The next simple explanation is you are using devices that are not energy efficient or using too many devices at once.

There are plenty of devices and appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens, and much more, including heaters and air conditioners, that can be very inefficient. 

If you have an old RV or buy old equipment, it could very well be inefficient. Moreover, using multiple appliances at the same time can also increase overall electricity usage.

For instance, using the stove and the microwave at the same time will use more energy than using those appliances independently.

8. Poor Insulation

Another very common cause is that your RV is not well insulated. This does of course have to do with both heating and cooling. The better insulated your RV is, the better it will be able to hold the cold or hot air that you produce using either a heater or an air conditioner. 

The more insulated your RV is, the less energy you will require to keep the temperature at the desired level. Moreover, if your RV is well insulated, it will also stop it from getting so cold during the winter or hot during the summer. Good insulation reduces the need for heating and cooling.

9. Making Long Stops

Another thing that is going to ramp up the electricity bill for your RV is if you go far distances and make long stops. Simply put, if you spend a lot of time at the campground, you’re going to need to hook up to electricity. 

When you do a long stay, the battery in your RV is not going to be able to keep up with all the appliances that you are using. When you have to plug into the campgrounds electricity source during a long stay, you are going to pay very high rates.

10. The Campground

Some campgrounds may charge you more money for their electricity than others. Obviously, the longer you stay, the more you will pay. 

There is also the fact that not all campgrounds are built the same. If it is a very large and open campground without any trees or cover, then the sun is going to beat down on your RV, which will then lead you to use more air conditioning.

11. A Lack of Natural Light

If you don’t have much natural light in your RV, then you are most likely going to turn on the lights. As mentioned above, using lights does of course require electricity. Moreover, if absolutely no sunlight can get into your RV, especially when it’s cold outside, you’re going to use more energy for heating. 

Sunlight does of course make a difference. With that being said, if we are talking about summertime, sitting in the sunlight is of course not good, because it forces you to use the air conditioner.

12. The Weather

The other factor that is going to determine your RV electricity bill is the weather. If it’s extremely sunny, you’re going to use a lot of money on your air conditioner.

If it’s really cold, you’re going to use a lot of money for heating. Moreover, wind can also make a big difference, because wind can really suck the heat right out of your RV.

How Much Electricity Does An RV Use In A Month?

On average, you can expect your RV to consume around 20 kilowatts of electricity per day. This equals roughly 608 kilowatts per month or around 7300 kilowatts per year. For those of you who don’t know, that is actually quite a bit of electricity. 

Generally speaking, if the weather is fair, you won’t need as much electricity due to limited heating and cooling needs. However, in the cooler and hotter months, you will use more electricity due to air conditioning and heating usage. 

Now, what you do need to know is that the air conditioner is one of the deadliest appliances to use in the RV in terms of electricity usage. In fact, people who do not use their air conditioner at all generally only use between 10 to 12 kilowatts of electricity per day.

In terms of the cost, keep in mind that the cost of electricity in the United States at this time is roughly $10.50 per kWh. Therefore, if you use roughly 608 kilowatt hours of electricity per month, you can expect to pay around $64 per month. That’s nearly $1,000 per month, and that’s just for average usage. 

How Can I Tell How Much Electricity My RV Is Using?

There are two ways to tell exactly how much electricity your RV is using, one of which is very easy, and the other of which is quite difficult and painstaking. The first way is by simply using an electricity meter or electricity usage monitor. 

This is how you measure exactly how much electricity your RV is using when it is plugged into a power source such as an outlet at a campground. This is a small device that you plug into the outlet, into which you then plug your RV.

These generally come with screens that tell you exactly how much electricity you are using. High-quality models may even be able to tell you when you are using the most electricity.

The other method to tell how much electricity your RV is using is by doing some old-school calculations. To do this, you will need to determine exactly how much electricity all of the appliances in your RV use.

Once you determine how much electricity these appliances use per hour, you then need to calculate how much you use them.

Based on usage, you can then calculate exactly how much electricity your RV is using. This is a rather difficult process, but it is doable.

How Can I Lower My Electric Bill In My RV?

What we want to do now is to go over a myriad of valuable tips that will help you save energy in your RV, and therefore help you save money on your electricity bill.

  • It is in the winter time, park your RV in the open, so it gets sunlight. This will prevent you from having to use your heater as much.
  • Also, in the winter, you want to park your RV somewhere where it is blocked from the wind. Wind will sap the heat out of your RV, therefore causing you to use your heater.
  • If it is the summer time, park your RV in the shade. This will help prevent you from needing to use your air conditioning as much.
  • Also, in the summertime, you want to park your RV somewhere where it is a bit windy. The wind will help to naturally cool down your RV without the need for your air conditioning.
  • A great idea is to have your RV insulated. Getting some simple insulation for your RV will help with temperature regulation, and therefore help cut down on the need to use either heating or cooling appliances.
  • You should try to only use very energy efficient appliances in your RV. If the appliances in your RV are not energy efficient, you may want to consider replacing them.
  • Something else that can help you save electricity is only using a single appliance at a time. Without getting into the signs of it, using multiple appliances at once will use more electricity in total than using them separately.
  • Installing energy efficient lights will definitely go a long way.
  • You should also make good use of those curtains. In the summertime, close the curtains, and in the winter time, open them.
  • You also want to take advantage of your windows. In the summertime, if it is cool outside during the night, open the windows instead of using the air conditioning.
  • Always make sure that your generator has enough propane and that it is in working order.
  • Ensuring that all electrical systems in your RV are well maintained and up-to-date will also help ensure that you don’t use too much electricity.
  • Something else you can try doing when you are at a campground is to use wood fires to do your cooking instead of using the cooking appliances in your RV.
  • Using cooking appliances that are powered by gas or propane will use less power than if you use electric appliances.
  • To help save electricity, when at a campground, use the showers at the campground as opposed to the shower in the RV. This will help save electricity and will prevent you from using hot water in your RV.
  • If you are driving around in your RV during the cooler months, have some good covers for your bed. These will keep you warm without the need for heating.
  • One of the best ways to help cut down on your electricity bill in your RV is to install some solar panels on the roof.
  • You can always hang your clothes up to dry somewhere instead of using a dryer, with dryers of course using tons of electricity.

Conclusion

There you have it folks, everything you need to know about why your electricity bill in your RV is so high, as well as what you can do to cut down on those costs to get that bill down going forwards.

Madeline Cooper
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