12 Tuneful Ways We Conserve Water and Power While Boondocking

By:  Emily Rohrer

5th Feb, 17


~ A song-inspired list for National Shower With A Friend Day ~
 

Yeah, we know it would be difficult, if not impossible, to fit two people into an RV shower, but we like to think this special day is REALLY about water conservation. So, with that in mind: no matter what you've got by way of power sources or water tank capacity in your rig, here are a dozen ways to extend the life of both while dry camping (boondocking).

Our own big test came in January 2017, when we spent a personal record 12 days without electrical, water, or sewer hookups, on BLM land just outside Quartzsite, AZ. Since singing a cheerful tune makes any situation better, at least according to Disney cartoons, I did a lot of singing while I learned to waste not, want not in the desert.

Join me! And here's a playlist for those who want to sing along...

In The Navy

See? I'm gonna start with showers anyway. You might not be near a YMCA, so learn to take Navy showers! As a retired naval officer, my husband is an expert. Get wet, turn off the water, lather yourself up, then turn the water back on for a quick rinse. If you don't have a shower head with toggle switch, get one. It helps keep the water temperature right where you want it for that rinse.

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden
 

If you've got an onboard washer/dryer, wear clothes maybe a few more times than usual so that you can go a week or longer without running either one. If you just have to do a quick load of underthings and socks, take advantage of a warm breezy day to hang them outside to dry. Amuse your neighbors!

You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman
 

Ladies, go au naturel when it comes to your face. Skipping the makeup saves at least one hand-washing and one face-washing each day. It's liberating. Give it a try!

It's Only A Paper Moon
 

We compromised on paper plate waste by using them for only one meal a day. And speaking of paper, you're going to want an extra roll or two of paper towels, for wiping off regular dishes before washing. See next song.

Splish Splash

Give your dishes a bath — the non-paper ones, of course. We washed dishes only once each day, and used a dish pan to help conserve water. On Night 1: put a small amount of hot soapy water in the sink for washing, and an equal amount of hot clean water in a dishpan for rinsing. Save that rinse water in the dish pan, to use the next night as wash water. Continue pattern.

We All Live In A Yellow Submarine

You know the saying, "If it's yellow, let it mellow?" Do that. It saves space in your black tank. And on a related note (pun intended)…

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

Pretend you're in Mexico, and throw away your toilet paper instead of flushing it. It's not as bad as you'd think! Just carry out your bathroom trash daily, or invest in a can with lid to reduce odors. We believe that when dry camping, it's far easier to deal with a few extra bags of trash than it is to manage a black tank dump.

Dim All The Lights

If you've got toggle switches on your ceiling lights like we do in our 2008 Heartland Bighorn, set them all to the half-way mark, so that when you turn them on at the wall, you use only one side or the other. Yes, this means half the brightness, but if you've switched to LED bulbs (another way to conserve power) it won't make a tremendous difference.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

With regard to heating and air conditioning, go back to your "starving young adult in a crappy apartment" days. Run your HV/AC only when absolutely necessary, and keep them set a couple degrees cooler or warmer than usual.

You're The Cream In My Coffee

Unplug your electric coffee maker, and use a pour-over method. We love our 10-cup thermal carafe, but smaller versions are available, including individual mug sizes. You can make your morning java using no power at all if you use a gas cooktop or camp stove to boil the water, and minimal power if you use an electric range. Bonus: because we use paper filters, clean-up is easier — and uses less water — than with a French press or percolator.

Red Red Wine

Conserve water by drinking wine. Conserve gray tank space by covering and saving unfinished wine (I know. I'm a lightweight.) for the next night. Hey. Every little bit counts, and I am a team player!

We're All In This Together

Be prepared to meet other RVers who are far more rabid about conservation than you are. It's not a competition. Share tips and learn from each other — maybe over a few glasses of that wine you're drinking to conserve water.


Emily Rohrer

Emily Rohrer


Own Less, Do More

Goodbye suburbia. Hello, 2008 Heartland Bighorn! Rolling by the seats of our pants, searching for home.