The garage is a place most people don’t think about much longer than it takes to park the car. But a well-built and maintained energy-efficient garage can have a serious impact on your utility bill and energy consumption. There are a few ways to make sure your garage isn’t using up too much power — mix and match the upgrades that fit your needs.
What’s on the Inside Counts
Let’s start off talking about basic energy consumption. When you turn on lights or use fans and heaters, you use energy. One easy way to lessen this usage is to swap out all your lighting for LEDs. These bulbs are brighter, last longer and are far cheaper to run than halogens and fluorescent lights. The initial investment costs more, but over their lifespan LEDs more than make up for it.
The next consideration is where the energy to run lights and appliances is coming from. If you have a garage that is also used as a shop and therefore needs lots of power, it’s best to use the same electricity source as the rest of the house. However, if you’ve just got lighting or small appliances, like fans that don’t use too much power, you can convert your energy source to solar.
Maybe you spend quality time in your garage during all seasons and have heavier needs for things like keeping cool or warm, depending. As a heating solution, once again solar comes to the rescue, with passive solar heating options on the market. Heck, you could even DIY.
When trying to stay cool, the key is keeping the space open and air circulating. A combination of open doors and a shop fan will use much less energy than an air conditioner. Ceiling fans aren’t just for the living room and they don’t take up precious floor space.
For those who live in an area with relatively low humidity, a good half-way step to keeping cool efficiently is an evaporative cooler. Sometimes called a “swamp cooler” these units use a process of evaporating water to cool the air. The trade-off is that humidity is added to the air in the process, so your local weather may guide your decision.
Keeping Your Cool
But, let’s say you do have an A/C or heater and are worried about maintaining a hospitable temperature in extreme weather. Garages are notoriously energy inefficient, mostly because their construction allows easy heat transfer and escape.
To solve this, you have to insulate. One option is installing a new garage door, but there are also insulation kits on the market that you can install on your existing door. And don’t forget about the walls, ceiling and floor, or that newly insulated door is all for nothing. Depending on when and how your house was built, garage walls might be very thin, a true enemy of energy efficiency. Insulation solutions range from small jobs like a layer of concrete sealant, weather stripping, draft sealers and proper caulking to bigger ones that involve getting insulation between layers of drywall. Don’t forget: A poorly insulated garage can easily affect the amount of energy needed to heat or cool your house if that garage is directly connected to it.
In the end, although there might be some extra expenses upfront, you’ll save a ton by not letting all that energy go to waste.
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Photo courtesy of Blair Lampe.
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.