Kara Zorn on May 6, 2015 1 Comment The garage is often the most overlooked area of a home when it comes to home improvement and energy efficient projects. Regardless of whether you use your garage for storage, as a place to park your car or as an extra room, your garage is a part of your home that can affect your energy usage and bills. Whether or not your garage is attached to your house, you can make modifications to it to make it a safer, more enjoyable and energy efficient place. Here are 8 energy efficient garage tips you can use to reduce your overall carbon footprint and energy expenses. 1. Insulation Attached garages have shared walls with your home. When there is a lack of insulation in your garage, cold and hot air can circulate back and forth from the garage into your home through the shared walls. This makes it harder for you to control the temperature inside of your home and is often why you need to adjust your thermostat more often than not. The easier it is for thermal energy to seep through your garage walls into your home, the easier it is for any fumes and contaminants to get in and reduce your home’s air quality. Carbon monoxide can leak into your home when your car is turned on in the garage. Make sure that your garage walls are properly insulated to prevent thermal energy seepage and accidental carbon monoxide exposure and poisoning. Insulate in order to increase garage energy efficiency. There are many different types of insulation materials for you to choose from. Depending on your garage’s structure and your needs, some installation methods may be more desirable than others. Pay close attention to the surrounding walls and where they connect to the floors. Don’t forget to insulate your plug sockets and light switches. Even though these areas are incredibly small compared to the rest of your garage, a great deal of thermal energy can escape through them. 2. Seals and Thresholds One of the fastest ways that hot and cold air seep into your home from the garage is through the connecting door and the actual garage door. Make sure that your connecting door and garage door are properly sealed with weather stripping or a threshold barrier to keep the elements out. It is hard to see where there are holes or gaps in your weather stripping and threshold, so you may want to use a thermal energy leak detection kit. You can also use a smoke machine to see where the weather stripping and threshold is not intact and take appropriate action to seal the deficiencies. Even if there are seals and a threshold already in place, they do breakdown and need to be replaced periodically. Always inspect your seals to ensure that they are in good condition. Replace them as needed to keep energy from escaping in and out of your garage. 3. Concrete Floors Although your garage floors are made of cement, the constant change in temperature can cause them to crack. It doesn’t matter how big or small those cracks are; they drastically reduce your ability to control the temperature in the area. Also, when those cracks are exposed to moisture from rain and snow, they expand beneath the surface and ultimately interfere with your garage door’s ability to close completely. Cracks also affect your garage floor’s safety. If you can’t afford to have your garage floors redone, seal them with concrete caulk. Adding carpets, rugs and mats to your garage can help to prevent changes in the temperature and also add an aesthetic appeal to the area. This is especially appropriate for those who use their garage as another room instead of for their cars or for extra storage space. 4. Solar Panels Heating and cooling your garage with a portable heater or air conditioner can quickly add up. Adding solar panels to your garage is an excellent way to reduce energy use and costs inside of your home. Use solar panels to gather and store energy from the sun to be converted into electricity for the garage and the rest of your home. You can also use solar panels to passively heat and light your garage when it is chilly outside. On days when you want to lower the temperature inside of your garage, simply cover your solar panels to keep the heat from the sun out. Solar panels do require a bit of an investment upfront, however, the amount of money they can save you greatly outweighs the amount of money you’ll spend to purchase and install them. 5. Storage and Organization When your garage is not organized, chaos is not the only thing you’ll have to worry about. A lack of organization in your garage can attract unwelcome pests. Pests will eat and destroy the insulation and structure of your garage and home. Having clutter around makes it easy for these critters to move in, breed and gain even further access to your home. In addition to pests, clutter can make it harder for you to keep the temperature comfortable, affecting the overall garage energy efficiency. Clean out your garage, invest in storage solutions or add a shed to accommodate your need for space without compromising your garage energy efficiency, safety and comfort. 6. LED Lights Another way to improve your garage energy efficiency is by switching to LED lights. LED light bulbs help to reduce your home’s overall carbon footprint. These lights require less energy to run and last far longer than regular CFL light bulbs. If you have a habit of leaving the lights on in your garage, invest in a light timer that you can program to turn the lights off for you to save even more money. It is good to train yourself to turn off the lights in any room when you leave it. 7. Older Appliances If you run an older model appliance such as a spare refrigerator or freezer in your garage, it may be a good idea for you to get rid of it. It often times costs more money for you to operate an old appliance than it does for you to invest into a new energy star appliance. If you are not ready to replace your spare appliance, at least unplug it when it is not in use to save money on your electricity bills. 8. Windows If your garage has windows, be sure to replace them with energy efficient ones or storm windows to prevent air and moisture from seeping inside. Replace all caulking and weather stripping on the window panes as needed to prevent unnecessary thermal energy loss. There are many things you can do to your garage in order to increase its energy efficiency. By implementing even one of these tactics, you are doing your part in reducing your carbon footprint on our fragile earth. More immediately, you’ll notice a significantly smaller energy bill. You can only benefit from boosting your garage energy efficiency.