Savings Room by Room, Part 5: The Garage
If you’ve never considered making your garage more energy efficient, you could be forgiven. But in any garage, whether it’s just the place you store a car or you’ve decked yours out into a super-deluxe man cave, there are opportunities to reduce energy consumption. And some of them could have a bigger impact than you might think.
As you make improvements to your home to transform it into a lean, green, money-saving machine, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to your garage. Here are a few things to add to your checklist that can help you save money.
Garage Tip #1: Seal That Ceiling (And Those Walls!)
We’ve talked before about the importance of sealing up a room to help keep your heating and cooling costs low. But when it comes to the garage, sealing it up carries extra importance. That’s because the things typically stored in the garage—gasoline, paint, and vehicles, to name just a few—can give off dangerous fumes. If you have an attached or tuck-under garage, bad sealing can result in those fumes infiltrating your home.
So in addition to saving energy, filling in gaps in your ceiling and walls keeps your home safe. We recommend that you spend time sealing up those gaps with caulk or expandable foam to make sure the fumes stay in your garage where they belong.
Garage Tip #2: Add More Insulation
Is your garage attached to your home? Once your garage is well sealed, it’s critical to make sure you’ve got enough insulation in place, even if your garage isn’t temperature controlled. That’s because an attached garage shares walls (and usually an attic) with the rest of your home. A lack of insulation can allow air and energy to move about freely, heating your home in the summer and cooling it down in the winter.
Insulating around your garage can help keep the rest of your house nice and snug—just the way you like it.
Garage Tip #3: Replace Your Lights with ENERGY STAR® LEDs
For most people, that little light on the garage door opener doesn’t really cut it. If you spend any time in your garage, chances are you’ve also got can lights, track lighting, or floor lamps. The good news is that these can all be made more efficient by replacing your incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR LEDs.
It’s one of the easiest changes you can make, but even better? Replacing your screw-in light bulbs with ENERGY STAR LEDs qualifies you for a pretty sweet rebate. (Just keep in mind that these rebates don’t apply to LED tube lights or pre-loaded LED tube light fixtures.)
Garage Tip #4: Use ENERGY STAR® Appliances
Your garage is a great place to put a chest freezer, a second refrigerator, or even a washer and dryer. But sometimes those appliances are using a lot more energy than they should be. If you’re using Dad’s fridge from the 1970s to store bait, those little worms might be costing you some cold hard cash.
We’ve already mentioned the benefits of ENERGY STAR LEDs, but you can also find that blue ENERGY STAR logo on any number of household appliances. And if you don’t see it on the ones in your garage, it may be time to consider an upgrade.
Garage Tip #5: Check Your Heating and Cooling Ducts
Is your furnace located in the garage? What about portions of your ductwork? These are all extensions of the home that stick out into your garage, and they can let in air. It might seem silly, but it’s common to see cold air registers or supply registers out in an attached garage. Both are a bad idea, plain and simple. Why? Because if you have a cold air return in the garage, every time your heating or cooling is running it sucks in that garage air and blows it through your home.
Even worse is what happens when you start your car first thing in the morning. That’s when a whole mess of carbon monoxide is created, and that same return is going to send it straight into your home. Something similar can happen with a garage heated or cooled with the home’s HVAC system. When the HVAC system is on and blowing air into the attached garage, the cold air returns in the home have to pull air in from somewhere else to balance the airflow. If there are gaps, cracks, or holes between the house and attached garage, that same garage air can be pulled into the house, almost as if there was a cold air return there in the garage.
So what’s the best way to make sure your attached garage is sealed up tight? Contact your Energy Advisor to perform a blower door test and measure the connection between the house and garage.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget that your Energy Advisor can also conduct a free home energy assessment, and offer more tips on making your home energy efficient. Contact us today.