We are in the midst of a green revolution. New technologies allow people to live comfortable lives powered by sustainable energy sources. Solar panels, wind energy and electric vehicles have all helped to reduce our carbon footprint and make us less dependent on non-renewable fossil fuels.
According to the International Energy Agency, global renewable energy consumption rose from 13.2% of total energy in 2012 to 22% in 2013. Further, they estimate that that number will reach 26% in 2020.
However, while we have made huge strides in energy efficiency, there’s always more to do. That’s why we’re turning our attention to the garage. Whether you are looking to cash in on an energy-efficient garage doors tax credit or you just want to know how to keep a garage cool in the summer, follow these steps and you’ll see your energy consumption fall and the savings soar.
Start With Insulation
A good energy-efficient room starts with good insulation. Insulation will keep cool air in during the summer and warm air in during the winter.
However, many people neglect to take the same care in insulating their garage as they do the rest of the house. Considering that the largest door on a home is regularly opened and closed throughout the day, too many people assume that a truly energy-efficient garage is a pipe dream.
However, while it’s true that you may not need to keep your garage at the perfect temperature, keeping the ambient temperature in the garage relatively close to the temperature of the rest of your house can actually increase the energy efficiency of your entire home. That’s because a large temperature differential between your home and your garage will cause both temperatures to try and equalize.
Additionally, many people don’t fully insulate the wall between their attached garage and the rest of their home. Instead, you want to put as much effort into insulating your garage as everywhere else.
If you have an attic or crawl space above your garage, you need to be sure you insulate between the two spaces. Roofs are particularly harsh during the summer, as they conduct heat from the sun — especially if they’re made with tar shingles. By putting a layer of insulation between the attic and the rest of the garage, you can keep your garage cool without A/C.
The nice thing about adding insulation to your garage is you don’t have to worry as much about finishing your walls the way you do in your home. Depending on how you intend to use your garage, you can leave insulation exposed.
Seal Cracks in the Slab and Between Doors
Once you have fully insulated your garage, your next step is to seal up any cracks that might be causing heat energy to leak out of your garage.
Start with the door that connects your garage to the rest of you house. It’s important that you treat this door just like you would any other exterior door in your home. That means installing new weather stripping or even using a draft stopper.
Keep in mind that weather stripping ages. If your weather stripping has aged, it will be hard and therefore less effective. So even if you already have weather stripping installed on the connecting door, it may be time to replace it.
The same is true of your garage door. While weather stripping comes with most garage doors, it may be time to replace yours if the door is older.
There are two ways to check if the seal between your doors and the floor is good. If you can see the light peeking through, it’s definitely time to replace your weather stripping. If there’s a large enough temperature differential between the two sides of the door, you may also be able to feel a draft with your hand.
Luckily, replacing weather stripping is both easy and affordable. Most kits come with good instructions, so if you’re relatively handy, this is definitely a job that you can tackle on your own.
However, while many people notice and address the weather stripping sealing on the doors in their garage, you may not know that cracks in the slab on the garage floor can also be an issue. Over time, these cracks can open up and cause energy inefficiencies. Additionally, those cracks can expand and contract as temperatures change. This can also cause the seal between the floor and walls of your garage to widen, which will also reduce energy efficiency.
For your garage floor, consider applying a new sealant over a freshly applied concrete patch. This will stabilize the cracks. After you have done that, either apply a foam sealant or a silicon/latex caulk to the seam between the ceiling and the walls.
Note: if you’re also planning on adding additional insulation to the walls, you want to seal these cracks first, as it will be harder to access the seam after the insulation has been hung.
Update and Insulate Outlets, Light Switches, and Bulbs
Because you likely don’t want to pay to either cool or heat your garage, you need to be aggressive about sealing any potential leak in the walls of your garage. That includes the light switches and outlets. There are specific outlet/switch foam gaskets that are designed for exactly that purpose.
There’s an added benefit in sealing these gaps in the walls. You want to fully separate the air in your garage from the air in your home. Because cars generate carbon monoxide, you don’t want the air in your garage seeping into your home. Carbon monoxide can even collect in the walls and build up over time.
While you insulate these outlets, you can also replace light bulbs and update your switches to increase energy efficiency. Consider replacing a manual switch with an automatic switch so you don’t accidentally leave your garage light on overnight without realizing it. You can also replace the lights with more energy-efficient LEDs.
Replace Windows With Energy-Efficient Alternatives
Often, homeowners replace their windows with newer and more energy-efficient models within their house, yet neglect to replace the windows in their garage. In many ways, your garage windows are even more important, since they may not be covered with drapes or other items that improve efficiency. That means they need to be made of the most energy-efficient glass available.
Luckily, garage windows are usually small and most garages don’t have many. That means this is a more affordable fix than replacing all of the windows in a home.
Even if your windows are already energy-efficient, you should also check the caulking and seal between the window casings and the walls. This should be replaced periodically to ensure there are no cracks or leaks in the windows.
Reduce Clutter in the Garage
Surprisingly, reducing clutter in your garage can actually have a positive impact on its energy efficiency. The more cluttered your garage, the more likely you’re inadvertently harboring critters. While the critters themselves don’t reduce energy efficiency, they are known to do damage that will.
Specifically, rodents can chew through insulation and caulking seals. After you have done all of the work to add insulation and resealing, it would be a shame to have it all destroyed by a mouse or a squirrel.
Besides, keeping your garage clutter-free will make it easier to address future issues. While a good insulation job will last a long time, some of the smaller tasks discussed above will require touch-ups from time to time. If your garage is clean, you can more easily check on these trouble spots and perform small repairs as needed, rather than having to do a weekend-long cleanup just to re-caulk a window.
Make Sure You Have the Right Garage Door Opener
A properly powered garage door opener will be strong enough to lift your door without being strained while also not being so powerful that it wastes energy.
Sometimes, people replace their garage doors without replacing their garage door opener. If the new garage door isn’t the same weight as the old one, your garage door opener may be wasting energy.
Also, newer garage door openers are designed with energy-efficiency in mind. Even if your garage door opener is properly powered, it may be an older model, in which case a new opener could pay for itself in reduced energy bills.
We recommend LiftMaster® openers because they lead the way in implementing the best energy-efficient design solutions into their award-winning lifts. Not only will you be lowering your energy bills, but you will also be investing in some of the most durable and long-lasting lifts available on the market.
Fully Insulate Your Garage Door
Finally, the most important thing you can do to make your garage more energy-efficient is to insulate your garage door fully. There are a couple of ways to approach insulating a garage door. If you have a newer garage door that is uninsulated, you can use a garage door insulation kit. This will allow you to attach insulation to the inside of your garage door.
Garage door insulation kits usually include foam panels that can be cut to fit the panels of your garage door. That way, when your garage door opens the hinges won’t damage the foam panels. However, there are certain drawbacks to insulation kits.
While kits will certainly increase the insulation of your garage, they are not as efficient as specially designed and insulated garage doors. Additionally, they are contingent on your ability to install them correctly. Unfortunately, even the slightest insulation error will drastically reduce the kit’s efficacy.
Additionally, they aren’t always the most attractive option. The insulation on the inside of your garage door is exposed, as opposed to doors constructed with insulation inside. Moreover, because these insulation kits are made out of foam, they are susceptible to damage — and when the foam sheets are damaged, they tend to show it quite clearly.
If you really want to install long-lasting insulation on your door, the best approach is to replace the door with a new insulated garage door. Luckily, with so much focus on energy-efficiency, the number of well-insulated yet highly stylish garage doors has increased dramatically. No longer will you have to sacrifice style for substance.
Count on King Door for Your California Garage Door Needs
Here in California, we aren’t as concerned about how to keep a garage warm during winter. However, the same principles that define how to stop heat loss in a garage are essential for an energy-efficient home regardless of the weather outside.
Luckily, here at King Door, we have a wide range of excellent insulated and energy-efficient garage doors that are designed to match any and every home’s exterior design:
- The COACHMAN® Collection is an insulated steel door designed to pair well with traditional, craftsman, Victorian, French Country, Tudor and Shaker-style homes.
- Our CANYON RIDGE® doors combine insulated steel with a handsome faux wood finish. Whether you prefer mahogany or a white wash look, this door matches with the western ranch look that’s so popular in this part of the country.
- The GALLERY® Collection features intricately wrought iron designs that are both luxurious and durable.
- The GRAND HARBOR® Collection is a stylish and well-insulated yet affordable option with a carriage house look.
- For those who want a more classic look, both the Premium Series and the Value Plus Series are affordable and include substantial in-door insulation.
With all of these doors, you will find excellent insulation — including many with patented Intellicore® technology that is world-renowned for its insulating ability.
Plus, proper installation is essential if you want to achieve maximum energy-efficiency. That’s why we’re so committed to professional and incomparable installation. Even after you have your door installed, you sign up for our annual maintenance contract to make sure everything on your door is working exactly as it should. That way, you will never have to worry about possible energy leaks in your door. We’ll check things like the rubber weather stripping and the seal in the hinges on the door. Additionally, we will address other maintenance issues like the strength of the springs and the health of the door lift.
King Door Company, Inc. was founded in 1985. Combining industry-leading service along with some of the best doors from the leading manufacturer, Clopay®, we provide California with both residential and commercial garage installation and repair.
In all those years, our guiding principle has always been to approach our vocation with the pride of any master artisan. We take pride in our work and in meeting your goals. So if you’re ready to make the changes you need to have an incredibly energy-efficient home, there’s no better place to start than your garage.
And if you’re ready to renovate and improve the efficiency of your garage, then look no further than King Door. Contact us today to see how we can help.