For most homeowners, a garage is simply a place to park the vehicle upon returning home from work each evening. Consequently, little thought is devoted to the organization and insulation of the garage area. The thing is, the moment you exit the garage and turn the lights and heater on in your living room, the energy you use to stay comfortable is possibly being drained through your garage.
If you have made improvements to the living areas of your home but have left the garage in its pre-existing state, this could be a grievous oversight. While the time and money spent on new window frames, screen doors and interior insulation can greatly boost the comfort of your home, your gains from these improvements will ultimately be compromised if the garage itself lacks insulation.
Over the course of a given year, a poorly insulated garage can send undesirable temperatures into your living quarters. Like most homeowners, you might not even notice the extent to which your HVAC system has to be adjusted to maintain desirable temperatures throughout your house, be it coolness in the summer months or warmth during wintertime.
The problem could easily boil down to the following factors:
- A lack of insulation in the garage walls
- A weak or uninsulated garage door
- Air gaps along the perimeter of the garage door
- Gaps in the seals of the interior garage door
- Cracks in the concrete of the garage floor
- Pest-attracting clutter within the garage
- Extraneous use of appliances in the garage
It is important to rectify these and other issues with your garage for the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. With the following 10 tips, you can achieve an insulated garage door and interior space.
Insulate the Garage Walls
Like most homeowners, you probably do not consider your garage to be part of your living quarters. However, unless your garage is physically separate from your house, the garage is encased in the same outer walls as your house and occupies the same “envelope.” Consequently, the garage is liable to be a drain on the temperature of your living quarters unless the garage interior is insulated to the same degree as your main living areas.
The passage of air between your garage and living areas can drain warmth from your home and prompt higher levels of heat consumption than would otherwise be necessary during colder months. Likewise, the collection of warmth within your garage during humid months can spread to other parts of your home and render your air conditioner less effective.
Most dangerously, the release of toxic impurities in your garage — such as from engine exhaust or fluids — can seep into your living quarters and degrade the air throughout your household each day and night.
To prevent the easy passage of air between your garage and living quarters, make sure the walls of your garage are insulated just the same as the walls of your kitchen, front room and bedrooms. Choose insulation material with sufficient thickness to keep your garage protected from the passage of outside air as well as from the air within your living quarters.
Remember — your living areas will only be insulated if the garage has equal insulation.
Insulate the Garage Door
Nothing renders the garage more vulnerable to the passage of outside air than the garage door. Because of its size and design, the garage door is generally the weakest link in the insulation system of any home with an attached garage.
On most homes, garage doors consist of aluminum panels. As with aluminum window frames, aluminum garage doors are ineffective at securing interior spaces from the passage of external coldness and humidity. Consequently, an aluminum garage door could defeat the purpose of any insulation you add to the walls of your garage.
At the very least, an aluminum garage door should be reinforced with insulation. However, if you do have an aluminum door, you could end up saving on your energy consumption over the long run if you invest in a new wooden garage door. To boost the insulation of your garage door and render the space even more airtight, apply double-bubble insulation to the inside panels of the door.
Seal the Interior Door to the Garage
While the garage door itself serves as the weakest link in household insulation, the interior door between the garage and living quarters is a close second. As heat and coldness fester within the garage area during the wrong times of the year, those undesirable temperatures can seep under the door and into your laundry room, kitchen or whichever interior space is situated next to the garage area.
Even if the bottom of the door is equipped with reinforcements that stop the passage of air, the seals around the top and sides of the door could put a drain on your interior insulation. The seals around the interior door are typically overlooked, even in homes where steps have been taken to boost insulation within the garage area. This can be a serious oversight.
Air leaks around the seals of a door are hard to detect. The easiest way to discover an air leak is to point a running fan at the closed interior door from inside the garage, and then on the other side run a lit candle or lighter along the seals of the door. If the flame blows sideways along any stretch of the door’s parameter, you have spotted an air leak.
To prevent the passage of air around the interior door, caulk the perimeter of the door frame and apply weather-stripping along the inner frame.
Fill Cracks in the Concrete Floor
With the walls insulated and the door seals reinforced, it might seem that your garage is now airtight. However, the garage floor could have cracks in the concrete. While it might seem strange, floor cracks can compromise the insulating qualities of your garage.
Most homeowners think of garage floor cracks merely as benign eyesores. Unfortunately, cracks can expand from underneath when exposed to moisture. When cracks spread across the stretch of floor that lies directly under the garage door, they serve as canals through which air can bypass the door and weaken the insulation of your interiors. Between cracks, panel slabs can shift over time and form tilted gaps under the garage door.
If cracks have formed on the floor of your garage, there are several things you can do to stop the trend and prevent these cracks from degrading the insulation of your garage space. The first option, of course, is to have the floor repaved. But the more financially practical solution is to fill the cracks with concrete caulk.
Alternately, you could have the garage floor covered with tile, which could serve to aesthetically enhance the garage space and perhaps add extra value to your home. However, this would need to be a strong tile product with the power to hold form under at least 4,000 pounds of vehicular weight.
Another option for floor reinforcement is carpeting, which can add warmth and boost the livability of a garage space. However, carpeting is mainly an option for garages that are not used as parking spaces.
Add Solar Panels
If you use the garage area for activities, you are likely to consume untold amounts of energy just to heat and cool the space. For example, a portable heater or cooling unit could cause spikes in your monthly electric bills if used for several hours over the course of a given week. You can save on this energy usage — and make your home eco-friendlier in the process — with the addition of solar panels on the roof of your garage.
Solar panels will convert energy from the sun into power for the utilities in your garage and living quarters. During the sunnier months of the year, solar panels can help reduce your energy costs significantly. In due time, your initial investment in solar panels will be regained through the savings on your electric bills.
Keep the Garage Organized
Another key component of an energy-efficient garage is organization. When a garage is cluttered with garbage, boxes and disorganized items, the space becomes a tempting enclave for pests. Boxes of old, outdated clothes can attract moths and boxes of assorted junk can serve as feeding grounds for cockroaches.
Perhaps worst of all — at least for the insulation and structural integrity of your garage — is the potential for a cluttered environment to attract termites. When termites infest a garage space, they eat away at trimming and insulation. In a matter of weeks, a garage could become seriously compromised as tiny holes and gaps start to form along the door sides, walls and bottom trim due to termite activity.
Infestation can somewhat depend on where your house is situated and the nature of your surrounding environment. Pests can also accompany the belongings of people who take up residence in nearby houses. Depending on the situation in your neighborhood, you might have to take more serious steps to prevent infestation, up to and including professional extermination.
That said, a more organized and better-sealed garage interior can help render your home more pest-proof. To that end, keep all boxes in your garage properly organized and neatly shelved. Preferably, all items should be stored at least five inches above the ground. Donate or discard any clothes you no longer use. If necessary, apply pest repellent in likely areas of mite or roach activity.
Conserve Lighting / Install LED Lights
Garage lights can be a source of excessive energy consumption. Though these lights are primarily intended to help you park your car inside after dark, they could be a costly drain if you forget to turn them off when exiting the garage.
If you have a general habit of leaving your lights on when you exit a room, post notes by each door to remind yourself to turn off the lights. An alternate way to curb the problem is with the use of a light timer, which will dim and ultimately shut off the lights in your garage after a chosen number of minutes where no activity has been detected. Eventually, the savings could show on your energy bills.
Habits aside, the most effective way to make your garage more light-efficient is with the use of LED lights, which can last as much as 25 times longer than regular bulbs and consume 25 to 80 percent less energy. Even though LED lights cost more upfront, you eventually earn back your investment in energy savings.
Unplug or Discard Older Appliances
Some garages serve as storage spaces for outdated or broken appliances that only serve to compound your sense of disorganization. If you have any items of this sort, donate them to a thrift store or — if they’re no longer functional — an appliance recycler.
Refrigerators are among the most common items stored in garages. You might use this extra fridge to double your fridge space or you might just keep that fridge around as a backup in case your main fridge dies. In any case, don’t keep this fridge plugged-in unless you keep it in use. A fridge consumes more energy than all other household appliances, so a dormant-yet-powered fridge could be an excess drain on your power and pocketbook.
Although they’re not featured in every garage, windows can be problematic to the insulation of your garage space. As with the windows in your living room and bedrooms, which need to be replaced every decade or so as gaps form between the panes and frames, windows in your garage can leave the interior exposed to outside air due to loosening around the glass.
If the caulking and weather-stripping around the glass is more than five years old, replace both as needed. If a candle flame blows sideways when you hold it next to a window side, replace or reinforce it. Don’t let weak windows eat into your energy supply.
Reinforce the Outlets and Light Switches
Perhaps the most overlooked vulnerable spots of all are the outlets and light switches, where air gaps can form behind the mounted covers. If a cover becomes loose, screw it back on tightly. If portions of the wall have chipped away, fill them in with caulk.
Purchase a New Garage Door From Aaron’s Garage Doors
When it comes to the insulation and energy efficiency of your garage, nothing is more important than the garage door. Insulated garage doors keep garage areas warmer and more resistant to the passage of air from the outside. By extension, your entire living quarters will become more comfortable and energy-efficient with an insulated garage door.
At Aaron’s Garage Doors, our team has offered service of the highest quality to Central Tennessee homeowners for more than 20 years. With our vast knowledge and experience, we have made homes and garages warmer and more secure with our energy-efficient garage doors.
Residents of Nashville and the surrounding communities have long relied on Aaron’s Garage Doors for quality, affordable installations. There are no fuel surcharges or trip fees for our services and you can even get a 30 percent tax credit with the purchase of a new garage door. Browse our catalog to see the options or contact us to order a garage door for your home today.