We are spending the summer in Illinois, much to our surprise. We’re not surprised that we’re here, or surprised at why we have to be here this year due to family obligations, but we are shocked by the weather. We both lived in the state most of our lives, and moved to Montana just a little over 11 years ago. But somehow in that relatively short period of time we managed to forget how literally awful, horrible, and terrible (just to be sure you get my drift here) summertime is in Illinois.
I’m sure that a big part of it is the fact that we live in an RV, and part of that experience is feeling exposed (see the post about winter). But even when we spend a pleasant weekend in a real house with central air conditioning and thermostats, visiting relatives, we are startled at how bad it really is here. And if you believe in climate change, it’s probable that summers here are worse than they used to be, so maybe it’s not really our fault, relatively speaking.
It started getting warm in March – much too warm and much too early, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Then April came along with no real Spring, just more summer. Then May, and now it’s June and it’s hot, humid and the summer hasn’t even officially begun yet. We have had over 90 degree temps for days, and we have to use our air conditioner most of the day, starting about 11 AM. Last night was the first time we had to leave it running all night – the low was 72 degrees and the humidity was at least 65%. To make it worse, Robin is really sensitive to humidity so energy levels are down as sinuses clog up.
So, here are some hard-earned wise-man tips from us silly fulltime RVers about keeping cool in an RV. Some of them we have learned through experience, some by misadventure and surmise, but they are all good ones.
First of all, if you have any choice, park in a spot that is shaded. Maybe you don’t like trees because they drip sap or spread leaves on your shiny newly-sealed and finished roof. It doesn’t matter – park in the shade. And figure out where the shade will be in the hottest part of the day and park accordingly – you won’t be sorry.
Next, don’t wait until the heat is unbearable to start up the AC. It will take longer to cool down and your suffering will be equally longer. Use a fan or 2 or 3 to push the cooler air where you want it. We can only use the front or the back AC in our motor home, like many older rigs. We devised the nifty idea to hang a box fan up high on the ceiling (see photo below), pointing toward the rear so that the cool air from the front AC gets redistributed. Because the air conditioning vents are up high, it works much better…we did try the fan on the ground and it didn’t do much at all. And we use a small fan in the bedroom to keep air moving – even if it’s warmer than you’d like, air in motion feels good.
And, speaking of fans, Robin said her mom used to use a box fan pointing out of the window in their old apartment in Chicago – to cool the place down. In the motorhome, this is perfect on nights too cool for A/C but too hot to sleep. For this to work the air temperature outside has to be cooler than the air temperature inside, you have to have a window and a way to prop the box fan up so that it is blowing out of the window without a lot of open space around it (seal the gaps with towels if you have to), and you have to close all the windows except for the ones in the room where the cool air is needed. If you have it all set up right, the fan sucks out the hot air and brings in the cooler air from outside. It actually blows our curtains in the back bedroom (of course, our dog and cat quickly migrate in protest to our bedroom, because the living room will get warm with this method).
So, we are intent on surviving the terrible summer here, hopefully without an AC unit breaking down, and being able to pay our electric bill without selling the motor home – that really would be silly. Oh yeah…there’s another tip…find a site with electricity included! We got a lovely, private 5 acre site quite cheaply by advertising our need for a place on craigslist, but power wasn’t included. Never expected to have to run the a/c like this, so it is gonna hurt financially, for sure.
Keeping cool here is not going to be easy, and summer is actually just getting started…and the 10 day forecast never seems to budge one bit – sunny, hot, ick……………………Wish us luck, oxymorons that we are.
Oh…Robin wanted to add another keeping cool suggestion, which involves me squirting her with a water bottle every five seconds and holding a small fan in front of her…yeah, great plan there….
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