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How to RV the Earth-Friendly Way

If you love the idea of exploring the country in your own home but can't handle the guilt of a massive carbon footprint -- let alone the expense of a gas-guzzling standard recreational vehicle -- green RVing may be for you.

Green RVing isn't an oxymoron. A green RV is built with green building materials, uses renewable energy and is fuel- and energy-efficient. So if the open road beckons, consider choosing a greener RV -- or retrofit your current RV to be as eco-friendly as possible. Here are tips on how to do it.

Buying

If you're in the market for a new RV, look for a fuel-efficient model. Last summer, Damon Motor Coach introduced the Avanti, a Class-A clean diesel motorhome that promises to get at least 14.5 miles per gallon. That may sound dismal, but it's more than 80% better than the average RV, which gets just 8 mpg. The Avanti -- with an aerodynamic design that the manufacturer calls "the most drivable Class-A motorhome" -- starts at $144,060.

Sportsmobile offers Class-B motorhomes, also known as camper vans. The company converts Ford (F), Dodge and Chevrolet/ GM (GM) vans into custom RVs with fuel-efficiency ratings between 12 and 20 miles per gallon. Base costs vary depending on the van model: A Sportsmobile 2009 Ford RB Van starts around $56,000, while the more fuel-efficient Sportsmobile 2009 Dodge Sprinter RB Van starts around $73,000.

Travel the country without leaving behind a giant carbon footprint.

If you're willing to wait for your eco-friendly RV, reserve your Verdier. Modeled after the Volkswagen Westfalia camper van, the Verdier has a hybrid engine and solar panels that track the sun -- and an HD home theater, LED lights and an on-board computer with Internet, Bluetooth and green energy software. Models start at $129,000. The only problem? The company has not yet set a delivery date for the "New Pioneers Edition," as it's dubbed the first 250 units it plan to make.

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