Today, the world is celebrating Earth Day, a day for renewed appreciation of the earth and the environment. It’s also an excellent time to examine ways that we can live a more earth-friendly lifestyle. We often consider how to make our homes greener. Yet, an important part of our homes is often overlooked: the garage. However, there are several ways, big and small, that we can incorporate our garages in the plan to make our homes more eco-friendly.
Get Green Garage Doors
If you have an attached garage, a significant amount of heating and cooling energy escapes your home through the garage. A lack of insulation in the garage door, coupled with its frequent opening and closing, can make your garage extremely cold in the winter and uncomfortably warm in the summer. Any room sharing a wall with your garage will experience energy loss. However, an insulated, energy-efficient garage door can mitigate the temperature difference, reducing energy loss by more than seventy percent. This results in considerable savings on your energy bill.
Energy-efficient garage doors are more expensive. So do your research and check the R-value of any door you’re considering. This number represents the door’s ability to resist heat flow (in or out). The higher the R-value is, the stronger the door’s insulation properties. In addition to being energy-efficient, many green garage doors are made of recycled material.
Use Solar Power to Light Your Garage
Looking for a way to reduce your energy bill while also keeping your home safe? Install solar-powered floodlights and/or lanterns on the garage exterior. Install solar-powered spotlights along your driveway. These energy-saving lights are reasonably-priced at a local big box store and can be installed fairly easily. Solar-powered lights will make your home safer and more beautiful. The energy savings you’ll enjoy can quickly recoup the cost of the lighting.
Make the Switch from Incandescent Bulbs
You might not be prepared to invest in solar-powered indoor lighting. Yet, there’s another way to go green with your indoor lighting. Make the switch from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs. CFL or LED bulbs will cost a bit more than incandescent light bulbs. However, an incandescent bulb lasts for about a year while a CFL bulb can last up to ten years and an LED bulb can last up to twenty-five years. CFL and LED lights are also more efficient in their energy use, unlike incandescent bulbs which waste up to 90% of their energy consumption on heat, rather than light.
Use Lighting with Motion Detectors
Take the energy-efficiency of your outdoor and indoor lighting one step further by incorporating motion detectors. Exterior lighting with motion sensors provides an additional layer of security to your home. Inside the garage, lights with motion sensors will automatically shut off when there is no movement in the garage. This eliminates the energy waste experienced when someone inadvertently leaves the lights on inside the garage.
Mind the Gaps
Another place where energy is lost in your home is through the gaps between the walls and floor of your garage. Over time the garage settles and the spaces between the floor and the walls widen. Heating and cooling is lost through these gaps as air escapes into the garage. This can be resolved with a relatively simple and inexpensive fix. Get some caulk and a caulk gun and fill in the spaces. Talk to the clerk at your local hardware store to ensure that you purchase the appropriate caulk for the job.
Put your hand near the perimeter of the door between the house and the garage. Do you feel a draft? If so, cold air is seeping into the house through the gap around your door. Close this conduit for drafty air with inexpensive weather stripping. It’s an incredibly simple job that you can do in less than an hour with a few simple tools. Weather stripping will make your home warmer and more comfortable, plus you’ll see a reduction in your energy bills.
There’s one more gap that needs minding. Since there isn’t a visible gap around your electrical outlets and lighting fixtures, you might not realize that air can also seep through the spaces around them. Additionally, carbon monoxide fumes can escape from your garage into your home through those fixtures. To remedy the situation, simply buy an inexpensive package of fire-resistant foam seals made for this purpose. Remove the faceplate. Place the seal. Replace the faceplate. Voila! You’re done. After you’ve sealed all of the faceplates between the house and garage, put seals on all outlets and light switches on exterior walls inside your home for maximum benefit.
Capture and Reuse Rainwater
Take your commitment to going green up a notch by capturing and reusing rain water for jobs that don’t require potable water. For instance, recycled rainwater can be used to water the lawn, wash the car or bathe the dog. Purchase a rain barrel and then install it in three easy steps. Measure the height of the barrel. Cut the downspout. Then install the elbow that will divert rainwater into your barrel. The next time it rains you’ll be collecting fresh water. The best part? You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a reduced water bill.
Install a Car Charging Station in Your Garage
What better way is there to make your garage greener than to switch to an eco-friendly vehicle, like a hybrid or all-electric car? If you’re considering making the switch, there’s one more eco-friendly element you’ll need to add to your garage. You’ll need to install Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE), or what is often called a car “charging” station. This allows for convenient, overnight charging of your vehicle.
Doing our part to help the environment may feel overwhelming, at times. However, a greener lifestyle doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposal. Every little bit helps. Start by incorporating one or two green initiatives into your daily lifestyle. Do the options discussed here seem like more than you’re ready to take on alone? If you want to make your garage greener, but you aren’t sure how request a garage renovation consultation. Alternately, you can start smaller. Check our most recent post for seven easy ways to go green this spring.