Fall! Huzzah! It needs an enthusiastic tag line akin to “spring has sprung!” Because when the temperatures taper off and I can stand to experience fresh air, I feel like a bird set free from a stifling cage. I can only imagine it’s not unlike astronauts who have been in a tiny capsule for weeks on end and who finally get to emerge. I’m sure they feel like it’s just HUGE out there. Outside.

Now, I realize that there are those who love and mourn the passing of summer. It seems that there are more of those here, slightly south and probably slightly more moderately-temperatured than where we were before. These people miss the (borrowing from a friend’s friend’s comment on Facebook) “sun tans (being pale sucks), frozen drinks by the lake, beers while floating the river, summer colors and fruity scents at Bath and Body Works.” 1) This is beautifully put. 2) It’s just wrong! I’m typically a tolerant person, but… WRONG. If you like summer, we can’t be friends and I hate you.

Kidding, of course. It takes all kinds. But I will be a killjoy and say that the only “healthy tan” is a spray tan, and that’s likely overstating it. It’s at least health-neutral (assuming you don’t inhale as the spray passes your face). Also, I LOVE the musky, earthy or cooking-inspired Bath and Body Works fall scents.

Not where I live, and not my RV. Trying to ward off potential stalkers. But you get the idea. Fall is awesome. Just maybe not *this* awesome in *this* part of Texas.

Fall means opening the windows, which means a lot of traffic noise since we live right off of a highway, but it also means airing out the stale cat litter odor (I do keep the bathroom vent open pretty much all of the time, for the record) and breathing air that came from God instead of our flat, recirculated breath. It’s being able to ride a bike without needing a deodorizing hose-down half way through. Fall is enjoying the walk to the laundromat instead of wishing each step for death. Fall is Halloween and Daphne’s birthday and Thanksgiving and people being generally more gracious than usual. It means better hair days, as humidity hides its soupy face for a while. Fall means that everyone everywhere has pumpkin-flavored everything, and probably cinnamon stuff, too, and likely gingerbread. I’d get tired of these things eventually, were they featured year-round. As it is, I LOVE this stuff. Oh, and Indian Mix. But only Brach’s. You people should not be buying any other brand; you might as well just chew on wax.

In short, I adore fall.

With the changing of the seasons and cooler temperatures, however, comes a climate-control challenge here in the travel trailer (living the dream!).  During the summer of 2011, I learned a lesson. I had originally tried leaving the air conditioner set to 90 when we’d leave the house to go to work (the cats can hack it), and then turning it down when we got home at 2ish. After a month or so of this, I realized that: 1) we weren’t saving much money, and 2) in the heat of the day, the air conditioner can’t catch up, and it’s just hot until the sun goes down. So I started setting the thermostat and leaving it, and we were pretty comfortable.

When fall and winter rolled around, I tried the same strategy. I filled up both 7-gallon propane tanks, turned the heater to 68 degrees, and left it alone. Three days later, we were out of propane. That’s right: I’d spent $53 (half of what it takes to cool the RV AND run all other electrical appliances for an entire month during the summer) in three days. Clearly, we had to find a work-around.

Enter this little guy: the Sunbeam personal ceramic heater. I’d asked around (on Facebook, because that’s how we youngsters roll) for advice and had these recommended. They’re adorable, about the size of a toaster, which is perfect for RV living. I bought one for me and one for Daphne.

We handled our need for warmth thusly: Daphne takes her heater to her room at night, closes the door, and lets the room get warm. I do the same in my room. We are able to adjust for our level of comfort only, as there are no temperature settings.

This works very well while we sleep, but then there is one conundrum it presents: the restroom, while significantly warmer than outside, still rests somewhere in the mid-50s or below on the coolest evenings.

What typically happens is this: I’ll wake up at 2 AM and feel the call of nature. Then I’ll convince myself that, if only I can fall back to sleep under my cozy blankets, I can certainly wait until morning. Next, I will awaken at 5 AM and elect (not really, I have little choice at that point) to make a dash for the “outhouse” as though I’m leaving a demilitarized zone to grab a ball my kid threw over the border on accident.

If it is indeed 5 AM or later, I will stop by the thermostat on my way back to bed and turn the heater on to about 60 degrees, just to take the edge off of the living area. Otherwise, if a run for the facilities is not necessary, I will get up in the morning, dash out to turn the heater on, and go back to bed until the heater shuts off.

By then, the common area is workable. Daphne and I both bring our ceramic heaters in and turn them on. One goes on the border between the couch and the u-shaped dinette, and the other across the room on top of the stove. We turn off the central heater and make do with the electric heaters all day. If it’s really cold, we’ll shut off our bedrooms. Typically, by the afternoon, we don’t need heaters at all. This is probably the only benefit of poor insulation: the sun shining on the trailer roof all day eventually warms it right up.

In the trailer, the heater and the stove/oven are the only things that have to run off of propane. The water heater can, but unlike the oven, the pilot for the water heater is an eternal flame and will drain the tanks. The refrigerator can, too, but since we never move around, we don’t use it. I suppose that, in a prolonged power outage, it might be to our advantage. Perhaps. My perishables likely cost a lot less than a couple of gallons of propane.

When it is really cold, we have to be as careful with the two heaters as we do with the air conditioner when it runs full-time: that is, take care not to overwhelm the 30 amp system and lose power.

What about you? Do you have any heating/cooling strategies for your home? The house I owned prior to buying an RV was drafty, so I’d gotten used to wearing gloves and layering pants and shirts. It was good preparation for life-in-a-box.

Happy fall, everybody!

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