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How to insulate a travel trailer?

Hello,
I've been very impressed by the expertise on this site, and I'm hoping to get some input on improving the energy efficiency of a travel trailer. We bought a used, 30 foot trailer to use as an "apartment" for my disabled son, year round (hopefully) in the northeast U.S. It has a propane forced air furnace that delivers heat through floor vents, and vents to the outside. I'm in the process of enclosing the area under the trailer with 2" EPS. What do you think would be other effective strategies to make the trailer easier to heat? BTW, my background is that I'm a professional (green) gardener, and a reasonably handy home owner. Thanks in advance!
Gardener

Asked by William Clarke
Posted Dec 23, 2009 10:49 AM ET

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3 Answers

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1.

Travel trailers typically have 1½" of fiberglass insulation, single-pane windows, and lots of air leaks. It is nearly impossible to make one energy-efficient for a northeast winter climate (I know, I've lived in one year round and used as much propane to heat it as would be required for a moderate-sized house).

However, there are many things that can be done to improve the heating efficiency. A tight, well-insulated skirt is one (I used hay bales covered with plastic). Plugging leaks with spray foam and weatherstripping and installing heat-shrink plastic storm windows will go a long way. Also, seal and insulate any skylight roof vents.

See http://www.byexample.com/projects/current/winterizing/ for more tips.

Answered by Riversong
Posted Dec 23, 2009 1:53 PM ET

2.

Thank you Robert. Your response, and the link you included, are very helpful. Any low-tech suggestions for finding air leaks?

Answered by William Clarke
Posted Dec 24, 2009 8:58 AM ET

3.

A bare hand usually works pretty well for detecting cold air leaks (particularly when the wind blows).

If there are outside-access storage areas that are not insulated, do something about them as well. My last trailer had an outside storage compartment that was underneath the bed, so I put 1" of XPS foam board under the mattress.

Also, because I knew I might be living in it in the winter when I bought it, I looked for a trailer that had the potable water tank inside the heated space, rather than under the chassis. Make sure any plumbing or ductwork under the floor is insulated, in addition to skirting in the perimeter.

Answered by Riversong
Posted Dec 24, 2009 1:26 PM ET

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