Summer Tips (Some of these tips are needed in winter too.) is helping fire survivors
lower their power bills, be more energy efficient and live more comfortably.

People in Paradise are spending $400-700 a month on power (PG&E or generator) During the last triple digit heat wave, a Paradise survivor, who is rebuilding, shared her story with Action News about her excessive power bills which was over $700 a month for 2 RVs in June.

TurtleShells developed many methods to help people like her improve their RV situation in the Campfire burn scar. is offering this advice at no cost.

To help spread the word about the methods offered for people in the burn zone, Kimberly Carr of organized a work party on 9/7 and 9/8 to apply the principles of the methods she suggests.  We will be measuring the thermal performance and the wattage saved, before and after completion of the project.

If you would like to cover this story, we suggest either around 4pm on Saturday, after 2pm on Sunday or Friday 9/14.  At 4pm Saturday, we will be wrapping up for the day and serving baked apples from our sun oven with ice cream.  We will serve desert on Friday as well. We chose to bake apples to feature how wonderful it is to keep the heat out of the RVs in the summer.   The sun oven uses free energy that doesn’t pollute, never burns your food and cannot cause a fire.  The more people that discover it, the more it will be used!

For further details, please contact Kimberly at (8O5) 215-4429 or visit  Visit here again for press pictures and video starting on Monday, 9/9 and the case study should be completed by Friday, 9/13.


It is important to note that understanding energy efficiency isn’t just for RVs, and that the lessons learned about heat transfer and electricity use are helpful when designing any home.

  1. A/C – She had 2 A/Cs for 1 RV, because 1 A/C wasn’t keeping her cool enough. Dirt and dust is the #1 problem with A/C efficiency, leading to high energy bills and reduced efficiency. Periodic maintenance is needed because dirty coils can transfer heat and filters need to get maximum air flow.
  2. Fridge – She used a 2nd fridge and a freezer (unnecessary). Dirt on the refrigerator coils acts as an insulator and interferes with heat transfer.  Also external radiant heat hitting the back side of the RV causes a huge problem with heat transfer.  This causes the fridge to fail and the food to spoil which has been a constant problem for Vicki.  Orienting fridge toward the north or east and shading the unit and/or strategic placement of a fan behind the fridge will help.
  3. Roof – The biggest contributor to RVs over-heating in the summer is solar radiation on the roof, which contributes to as much as 80% of solar gain. Having shade in the summer helps significantly.  In the winter solar gain is desired, so removable shade would be ideal.
  4. Lights – Incandescent lights give off an enormous about of heat which is wasted electrical energy. LEDs and fluorescent bulbs are much cooler.  This is extremely important for people that are running off of batteries.
  5. Windows and skylights – This is a major point of vulnerability for heat transfer on an RV. A typical 1,200 square foot home has 15-20 windows and no skylights.  A typical RV is 300 square feet and has 10 windows and 3 skylights!  As a result the heat transfer is very high.  Skylights are often the biggest leakers and by covering it up, the change in temperature is very significant.  To do this correctly, 2 types of insulation are needed for windows and skylights, one for blocking radiant heat and the second one for heat transfer.
  6. Electrical loads – Entertainment systems have very significant power draws, even when not in use, which is referred to as “phantom loads”. There are now “smart-strips” on the market that can power down electronics completely which more than pay for themselves over the course of a year.
  7. Ventilation – Cool the RV at night by drawing in cool air from the north or east side out the south or west side after sunset until 2 hours after sunrise.


Next TurtleShells workshop for winterizing RVs will be in November.  We will host another hands-on workshop like this to winterize a Campfire survivor’s RV, followed by a classroom presentation.  By following our winter tips, you can save thousands of dollars in damage and live more comfortably, with lower power bills.  The workshop will show first hand examples of irreparable damage from incorrect maintenance, which in one case totaled an RV and is no longer drivable.  This was preventable.

To receive notice when the workshop and presentation occur, please CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE to

Emergency housing guidance