For those who work in a garage, summer can be one of the hardest seasons to get through. Oppressive heat is not only uncomfortable, but it can be deadly. Trying to cool your garage with air conditioning isn’t impossible, but it is completely cost ineffective. Luckily there are a number of things that, done together, make a big impact and can help keep your garage cool.
The first step is best summed up in one word: insulation. Your main goal is to keep the sun and ambient heat from penetrating the walls and ceiling. You can do this by creating shade or making it as difficult as possible for heat to transfer. This plan of attack starts outside the garage. If your garage faces the sun at its most brutal hours, install a retractable awning or plant a big deciduous tree. These are both great options to create shade because remember that eventually, winter is coming, and when it does the awning retracts and the leaves fall so you can let in all the light possible.
There are insulated garage doors on the market, but if your budget doesn’t allow that, you can buy aftermarket kits and install one on your existing door. Also, add insulation to your walls and definitely don’t forget the ceiling. The type of insulation you use will depend on the materials and construction of your garage, so be sure to get a professional opinion before you start going the DIY route.
Sweat the Small Stuff
Seal cracks around the floor and windows with caulk and install weather strips under any doors. This helps keep the heat out and makes attached air-conditioned rooms more energy efficient. Also keep in mind that light colors reflect heat while dark ones absorb it. It’s definitely worth your time to give every dark surface a fresh, light paint job. White works best, but if you aren’t into that, any off-white or pastel is preferable to dark hues. And don’t forget ambient and work lights can give off massive heat. Replace old bulbs with LEDs so you aren’t working against yourself.
The Heat Is In
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, heat will get in. Getting it out and the air circulating is going to be one of your best weapons. A system of fans and strategically placed openings can make a world of difference. Install a vent or full exhaust fan in the ceiling to pull hot air out, open the garage door a couple of feet and add a high powered shop fan into the mix.
Lastly, don’t forget to keep cool yourself by staying hydrated and wearing loose-fitting, light, breathable clothing. You might also consider what hours you work; obviously high noon is the time to avoid and not a bad excuse for a siesta.
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Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.