The garage is one of the most unique parts of your home. It features the largest entrance, one of the larger (if not the largest) wide-open spaces (at least when the cars aren’t inside), and is generally the most “unfinished” space you’ll regularly visit. And there are many reasons it can also be among the least energy-efficient spaces in your home—increasing your carbon footprint and your utility bills. Here are several tips to improve your garage’s energy-efficiency for a positive contribution to your home… and bottom line.
Insulation and Sealing
The first step in any garage energy transformation is reducing energy leaks. Conditioned (cooled or heated) indoor air is quickly lost when walls and/or the garage door are not insulated, or when there are open-air gaps where seals and thresholds should be. Before sinking cash into any other modifications, make sure walls are properly insulated, and if the garage door itself is a simple uninsulated steel door, it’s time for an upgrade. Insulating the walls won’t be enough if the door isn’t also insulated. And an insulated door installed in a garage without insulated walls isn’t money well spent either.
Another source of energy leaks is windows. Make sure any garage windows are energy-efficient and comparable to what would be installed in other areas of your home if you’re wanting your garage to be part of your living space—and just less of a burden on your cooling and/or heating bills. Also, if your windows experience significant sun exposure throughout the day, install blinds, shades, or curtains to reduce excess heat coming into the garage.
Swap out any incandescent bulbs with LEDs for great energy efficiency, long bulb life, and great visibility. It’s even worth replacing fluorescents with LEDs to reduce hum and electrical “noise” in your environment. LEDs have become so affordable in recent years that there’s virtually no reason not to make the switch.
Concrete can be another source of energy loss—particularly if it starts to break down and crack. Depending on how you use your garage, various floor coverings might be appropriate. But assuming you use your garage primarily as… well… a garage, consider garage mats or coatings that will stand up to vehicle traffic while also protecting the floor and reducing the amount of exposed cold concrete. Plus, if you use the space for other purposes (workshop, entertaining space, etc.), garage flooring can be much more attractive than the standard poured floor.
The garage is the natural home for spare appliances—especially those demoted from indoor home use. It’s handy to have extra food storage space in a garage-housed refrigerator or freezer, but aging appliances already tend to draw more energy than their newer counterparts. When that’s combined with a space that isn’t as climate-controlled as your kitchen, you can see a significant impact on your electric bill. Consider upgrading appliances that will be stowed in the garage, especially if they are more than a decade old.
While upgrading the energy efficiency of your garage may cover a number of updating tasks, in the end you’ll save significantly on your power bills and gain a space that’s more pleasant to use year-round—whether just to house the cars, or as a workshop or entertaining space.