Is Your Garage Costing You Heat (And Money)?
Heating and cooling your house is the "biggie" when it comes to energy consumption, accounting for as much as half of your home's total energy usage. As such, one of the most significant things you can do to "green up" your home is to stop the unnecessary loss of heated or cooled air that results from inadequate insulation and poorly sealed doors and windows.
You probably do the little things--adding weather stripping, sealing leaks--that make your home more efficient when it comes to heating and cooling. Often, though, the garage--you know, that not-quite-inside, not-quite-outside room in your house that sports an enormous, extremely conductive metal door--is ignored, even though it can be a big source of heat loss in winter. That's not to say you should heat your garage; heating your garage is inefficient. But you can take several steps to better protect your garage from the elements so that it no longer sucks the heat right out of your home.
Check the Wall Insulation
The wall between your garage and your house is probably insulated, but it might not be, particularly if you live in an older home. If the interior side of this wall is noticeably colder than your home's other interior walls during winter, insulation is almost certainly the reason why. Consult a contractor to determine the most cost-effective way to insulate the garage wall. You might also want to consider adding insulation to the garage's exterior walls and overhead crawl space or attic.
Consider an Insulated Garage Door
Most garages have un-insulated, metal garage doors. Ever wonder how cold such doors can get? Let's just say it's not a good idea to let anyone press their tongue against the inside of the garage door unless you have a cup of warm water handy.
For under $1,000, you can replace your old metal garage door with an insulated steel door that keeps the cold air outside where it belongs--outside. For far less, you can add foam insulation panels to the inside of your existing door. This isn't quite as good as a door with internal insulation, but it's far better than doing nothing.
Finally, make sure that the door between the house and the garage, and any windows or exterior doors in the garage, have adequate weatherstripping. Even though your garage isn't a heated space, you can still protect it from the weather as if it is. The effort pays off by making it less expensive to keep the parts of your home you do heat nice and warm.