youtubeThe greatest design feature about your RV, no matter the make or model, is also its greatest flaw when it comes to heating or cooling. Because it goes everywhere you want it to, rolling above the speed bumps and potholes of the world, the weather can surround it on all sides, above and below. Unlike a traditional home, there is no connection to the warm embrace of Mother Earth; this means a loss of efficiency, higher heating and cooling expenses, a greater reliance on fossil fuels and the possibility of frozen pipes.

As full-time RVers, we are always seeking ways to live more sustainably, reduce costs, and find things that simply make road life easier. Last fall, we discovered AirSkirts, a small family-owned company from Connecticut which accomplished all of these goals in one innovative product. Jim Phelan, the owner, has an Airstream and uses it as his year-round home office. He tried numerous ways to insulate the underside of his camper from the extreme northeastern winter, but finally settled on the prototype that would become his main RV product. These puncture resistant, air-filled tubes made from heavy-duty flexible material (think zodiac boat, or whitewater river raft) fill the space between the ground and the bottom of the RV, reducing air exchange and heat loss to the floor. This not only reduces energy bills from heating, it also protects the RV plumbing from freezing.



Sizing & Set-Up is a Breeze

When we learned about this product, we were excited to try it! AirSkirts are sold as custom-sized kits based on the size of your RV, and they are designed to fit any RV whether it be a motorcoach, travel trailer, or 5th wheel. Taking measurements is very simple and well explained on the company’s website. Since Hamlet is so small, we were able to utilize two 4-foot tubes and two 6-foot tubes to insulate our footprint. Once you get the hang of it, it takes about 20-30 minutes to set them up, and even less to take them down. With the 800W compressor pump that comes in the kit, you can both inflate and deflate each tube in less than 30 seconds. You’ll just want to make sure they are clean and dry before storing them away. We found that you can also use a 12V compressor/ tire inflator that runs off a car battery or even a bike pump (also a great way to warm up in the cold!).



Testing Our AirSkirts

Most winters, we head south to warmer climates, but that isn’t always in the cards for us. This past winter, we needed to help our octogenarian parents through some health issues, so stayed in Michigan for a couple of months until they were able to get back on their feet. While visiting, we were able to test out our AirSkirts and run some tests to see how long our not-so-insulated vintage camper would retain its heat with AND without the tubes in place. 

We did two pairs of tests – one in early February, and one in early March. For each test we tried to find 2 consecutive days where the weather forecast was similar. For our 2 baseline tests with no AirSkirts in place, we simply measured the outside temperature and the inside temperature, turned on our heater, fired up the kettle for some tea and measured how long it would take to get the inside air temperature to a cozy 70℉. During each baseline test (no AirSkirts), it took around 1.5 hours to heat the camper from a starting temperature in the low to mid 20’s. When it reached 70℉, we turned off the heater and waited for the inside temperature to cool down to below 40℉. This took between 3-3.5 hrs each time.

Our Findings

During the February test, we had 2 consecutive days which were nearly identical, both typical northern Michigan winter days – very cloudy, little wind, with temperatures in the high teens/low 20’s, with only a 4.5℉ temperature differential between the 2 days.

Without the AirSkirts in place, it took 1.5 hours for Hamlet to heat up to 70℉. With the AirSkirts in place, it took only 1.25 hours to come up to temperature. So, just a 15 minute difference there, BUT when we turned the heat off, we saw a big difference in the time it took to drop back down to 40℉.

Without the Air Skirts in place, it took 2.5 hours to drop 30℉ compared to 3.75 hours to drop the same amount with the AirSkirts in place. Our vintage camper, with very little insulation, held its heat 1.25 hours longer with the skirts in place!



We did an even longer test in early March to see if we got similar results. We had 2 consecutive days which we expected to be similar based on the forecast, but they turned out to be very different weather days. The first was cold, sunny all day, with very little wind. The second was very cold and cloudy with significant wind. The temperature differential between day 1 and day 2 turned out to be 23℉ with wind chill factored into the equation!

At first, we were disappointed because we were hoping for 2 similar days to get a good side-by-side comparison. But, let’s show you what we found when we ran the numbers.

The heating up process was again about the same – about 1.5 hours to heat up to 70℉ inside the camper. With the AirSkirts in place, our heater was able to make up the 5℉ handicap in the same amount of time.

After we turned off the heat, we monitored the temperature for 9 full hours. We saw a significant drop within the first 1-2 hours after we turned the heat off (somewhat expected there), but then we saw what the AirSkirts are made for! Even when it was 23℉ colder on day 2, our inside temperature showed the same pattern of slow decline – no major drop-off. It took 9 full hours for the temperature to drop about 45℉, even with frigid wind blowing outside!




So, the test we did in February showed a much slower temperature decline with the AirSkirts in place. The test we did in early March showed an equal temperature decline between day 1 and day 2, but the AirSkirts overcame a significant wind chill. Now, that’s a huge win for the AirSkirts!

After completing the second test, we lived in the camper and kept our AirSkirts in place. We found that we simply don’t need to run the heater as much to be comfortable in colder temps, especially on just average winter days hovering in the 30-40’s. From here on out, winter temps in Hamlet are going to be a lot more comfortable, and sustainable!

Useful in Both Summer & Winter Weather

So you're probably wondering if you should invest in this product for just a portion of the year, but keep in mind that these skirts will also keep your RV cooler in the summer, saving you money on your utility bills, especially if you need to run AC. While hot air rises, cool air drops; so, if the underside of your RV is insulated, it’ll keep it cooler during those heat waves, saving you both money AND wear and tear on your RV’s AC unit. To save even more money, use our affiliate link and our promo code “CANLIFE” to get $100 off a custom-sized AirSkirts kit for your RV. 

Questions, Comments? Please leave your thoughts below.

Shari and Hutch
Author: Shari and HutchEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
In 2012, Shari Galiardi & David Hutchison left behind careers and a comfortable home in North Carolina to travel with the vintage camper trailer they lovingly restored, outfitted with solar, and named "Hamlet." What began as a short break from careers and responsibility quickly turned into a love affair with roadlife. They have parlayed their higher education backgrounds, desire for life-long learning, and thirst for adventure travel into writing, photography, video production, and public speaking gigs from coast to coast. Known to their friends as simply Shari & Hutch, you can learn more about their full-time, solar-powered adventures on their website at freedominacan.com.

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