If you’ve done all you can to improve the energy efficiency of your home and are still experiencing higher utility bills than you’d prefer, you may need to work on creating a more energy-efficient garage.
A typical two-car garage measures 480 square feet, about 20 percent of the size of the average U.S. home. Since most garages are not built with energy efficiency in mind, that represents a lot of room for energy savings.
Fortunately, creating an energy-efficient garage is far less disruptive to the household than a home remodel. Now that summer is approaching, it’s a good time to consider clearing out that garage and making the energy-efficiency updates that will keep your electricity bills low when cold weather hits again.
Consider the following areas when planning your energy-efficient garage.
Green your garage roof
One of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your garage’s energy efficiency is simply to add insulation. Your garage ceiling or roof is one of the most important areas to insulate, because as we all know heat rises — and then escapes through the roof. An insulated roof will also reduce summer heat gain by providing a barrier to the direct rays of the sun.
To get the ultimate energy boost from your garage roof, consider adding solar panels. You can use them to power your garage lights or even an electric vehicle.
Insulate and air seal garage walls
Along with the roof, you will want to insulate your garage walls. What type of insulation to use depends on your climate, the structure of your garage, and your energy-efficiency goals.
Air sealing, or draft prevention, works hand in hand with insulation. Some types of insulation, such as foam or dense-packed cellulose, are effective draft barriers, so keep this in mind when choosing insulation. You will want to use caulk or foam to seal cracks in the walls, around outlets and light switches, and around your windows and garage doors. Sealing the wall between an attached garage and the house will also protect your family from unwanted fumes.
Install an energy-saving garage door
Even regular man doors interrupt the integrity of an insulated wall. But when the door is nearly as large as the wall itself, consider how much more it affects your utility bills.
When choosing a garage door, keep in mind that the amount of insulation may not be as meaningful as you think. It’s important to consider the overall effectiveness of the entire door assembly at keeping out cold air, so look for an energy-efficient garage door that seals properly on all sides.
Energy-efficient garage lighting
Lighting accounts for more than 10 percent of energy use in residential buildings. That percentage may easily be higher for garages, especially unheated ones.
Replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs is one of the best things you can do to save on lighting costs in your garage. As a bonus for unheated spaces, LEDs work well in cold weather.
Another great energy-saving lighting tip: Put your garage lights on a timer. That way if someone forgets to switch them off, you won’t be paying to burn lights that aren’t needed.
Don’t forget the floor
Cracks in your garage floor not only allow cold air to enter the space, but they can lead to heaving, which may eventually cause drafts due to shifting and cracking of the door frames and walls. An inexpensive application of concrete sealer is an easy way to prevent this. You’ll need to reapply every one to five years depending on the product you use.