Full-Time RVing and Carbon Footprints

Today I did some back-of-napkin math comparing carbon impact of RV life versus sticks-and-bricks life. I also found tons of really helpful details on Where-RV-Now?, which others will likely find more useful than what I’ve written here.

The Bad:

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Perhaps a more efficient combination. (flickr: Andrew Bone)

  • I didn’t know trucks have worse CO₂ emissions per passenger-mile than jet airliners.*
  • Add the trailer and it’s about twice as bad.
  • Replacement tires add a lot more to the carbon footprint than they would for an urban commuter.
  • A Class C motorhome (the kind with a van cab and a bed over the cab) towing a small car might have been smarter in hindsight.
* This changes if you have a big family in a heavy-duty diesel truck. I’m not going to put Athena’s paws on the scale to make this look better.

The Good:

  • No commuting!
  • RVers tend to use less day-to-day energy than traditional households.

The Great:

  • Any energy I avoid getting from the grid, be it from propane, a cheap generator, or an expensive solar rig, emits far less CO₂ than Colorado’s majority-coal grid.
  • Most of my appliances can run off of propane. (The propane heater also needs some electricity for the blower fan.) The only obvious consumption monster is the air conditioner.
  • I currently can charge all my gadgets except my laptop off of solar, and the next laptop will be able to charge off solar via USB-C.
 
It looks like I’m on target for a significantly lower overall carbon footprint unless I’m moving locations all the time. Again, this is back-of-napkin, and my qualified engineer friends will know a zillion inefficiencies that complicate this.
Also, the napkin is made from hemp.