When we get on a mission to start saving energy, the obvious focus is on the inside of our homes. But the next time you step into your garage, take a look around. This area provides you with even more energy efficiency options than you realize, and offers real potential to cut your energy costs.
Air Leaks Waste Energy
If your garage is connected to the home, you may be letting in air that affects the temperature of inside rooms adjacent to it. Insulate the walls shared with your home, and add a storm door to the entrance from garage to interior room. Inspect the door frame as well as any garage windows for cracks or gaps and use weatherstripping and caulk to seal air leaks.
What about the biggest door of your home? Your garage door is likely the least insulated of all your house entries. Install weatherstripping around the door and look for fiberglass duct wrap, reflective radiant barriers or foamed insulation panels that you can attach to its internal side, to make the door more energy efficient. A word of caution: If you keep cars in the garage, be careful not to make the area so airtight that exhaust fumes can’t escape, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Make the Light Bulb Switch
You’ve made the effort to switch your indoor lights to CFL or LED bulbs, so take that energy efficiency motivation right into the garage. If you use long fluorescent tubes as your light fixtures, switch them to CFL or LED tubes and they’ll pay for themselves in less than nine months, according the Department of Energy. Install a manual light timer that you can adjust to shut off garage lights after a few minutes. Look for an ultrasonic timer, which detects sound, or find an infrared one that detects heat and motion.
Spare Refrigerators Can Be Costly
Do you have an old refrigerator in the garage that you keep for parties and holiday food overflow? If it is running constantly but is unused and empty most of the time, unplug it, or it can add up to more than $100 per year on your utility bills. In an unconditioned garage during hot weather, your refrigerator has to work extra hard to retain a cool temperature. Give your refrigerator a break, and move it to the basement if you have one. And if your appliance is old, consider this from the EnergyStar.gov website: more than 60 million refrigerators are over 10 years old, costing consumers $4.7 billion a year in energy costs! When you buy a new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator, you can save between $35–$300 on energy costs over its lifetime. Don’t forget to call your utility company to pick up your old one and recycle it for you!
You may not think the garage contributes much to your utility bill, but it is likely the most inefficient room for energy in your home. Instead of thinking of your garage as an extension of the outdoors, consider it as part of your house and take steps to reduce its energy usage and your utility costs.