Are you still debating the idea of insulating and heating your garage? You might not feel that it is important, since there are no building codes that would require you to do so, save for certain cases with shared walls in an attached garage. However, for the most part, you will not have to worry about the R-value of the walls in the garage. With a detached garage, you do not have any rules guiding you at all, and you never need to worry about the insulation of the garage door. Some see this as an opportunity to save some money on their garage.
However, this might not be the best option. There are some very good arguments that will convince you of just how important it is to get your garage insulated, including the garage door.
If you’re like most homeowners, insulating a garage may not be high on your list of home improvement projects – but it should be. Adding insulation to a garage delivers a great return on investment in energy savings throughout the year, and the benefits don’t stop there.
A well-insulated garage can help extend the life of your vehicles, increase the value of your home, and even provide critical protection against fires.
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Should You Insulate Your Garage?
Using the Garage for a Living or Workspace
Many people choose to do more with their garage than park their car. They choose to turn it into a fitness centre. Maybe they put in a workshop or a place where they can enjoy their hobby without making a mess inside. They might decide to furnish it and create a game or entertainment room. There are countless ways to use the garage, even as an extra bedroom. However, you need to make sure that the space is comfortable, and if there is no insulation, it will be nearly impossible to do.
When you have a well-insulated garage, you can make it much easier to regulate the temperature. This way, you can use it all year long for any purpose without worrying about freezing in the winter or sweltering during the hot summer months.
Cold Air Gets Into the House
Another one of the problems with having an attached garage that does not have insulation is that it will be colder than the rest of your house. Whenever you open the door to your garage, it will allow some of that cold air to get into the house and some of the heat to escape, which means your energy bill could increase.
You Might Need the Insulation
In some cases, you might find that you need to have insulation, even if there are no regulations. For example, if you have any plumbing in the garage, such as to the washer, you will need to make sure it is insulated. If you do not, you will end up having a frozen pipe at some point. If you have a room over the garage, you will certainly want it to have insulation, as well.
Protection of Your Items
In addition, you will find that the insulation can help to keep items in your garage safe. If you have any metal items, papers, recreational equipment or anything else that you store in the garage, you do not want it to rust or get mould and mildew. By regulating the temperature and the humidity in the garage, you can avoid these problems altogether.
Another one of the reasons you might want to consider getting insulation is for the noise. When you have the proper insulation in the garage, it will reduce the amount of noise filtering into the house. In addition, it helps to keep the garage quieter from any noises in the house. While this might seem like a small thing now, you will find that it could be extremely helpful down the line.
Does Insulating Your Garage Save You Money?
It provides shelter from the weather, but the temperature in an uninsulated garage still fluctuates with the outdoor conditions. When you walk from an air-conditioned home into a stifling garage during summer, it could occur to you that insulating the garage might save money on your energy bills. You’d think that having the temperature in your garage spike and plummet with the weather would overwork your home’s heating and cooling system, but that’s not accurate.
Reducing Energy Costs
If you are looking to reduce your energy costs, the best bet is to put time and energy into insulating the attic space over your attached garage. This helps balance the temperature in that part of your house. Unfortunately, insulating your garage will not make much of a difference with your energy bills.
Insulating a Portion of It
You do not need to insulate the entire garage, and you could do fine insulating just the internal wall of the garage. By installing insulation in the walls between the actual living space and the garage, you will experience more comfort within your home. This helps prevent the escape of heat from out of the walls of your home during the wintertime and vice versa during the warmer months.
Best Reasons to Insulate a Garage
There are people that may have more of a need to insult their garage than others. For instance, someone who works in their garage often likes for car repairs or other reasons. If you are in your garage space often for any particular reason, it only makes sense that you would want the space to be comfortable. And in some cases, people are interested in turning their garage into a living space.
Installing insulation in the attic above an attached garage will help stabilize the temperature in that specific area of your home. But since it’s not usual to heat or cool a garage, insulating yours won’t affect your energy bills all that much, if at all.
If you have home improvement money, you could spend it on insulating your garage’s interior wall. Installing insulation in the walls that separate your garage from your living space increases your home’s energy efficiency because you won’t lose heat through the adjoining wall in colder months and heat won’t radiate into the house through that wall in hotter months.
What You Should Do
Investing in insulating your garage might not be the best way to save money on heating and cooling, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t weatherize it. Think about mounting a storm door on the garage door leading into the house and weatherstrip and caulk garage doors and windows. The idea isn’t to make your garage airtight — you’ll still want exhaust fumes to be able to escape outside and not into your house. But do be thorough about sealing cracks and gaps between the garage and your living space.
When to Insulate
There are times when it makes sense to insulate your garage, such as when you routinely use it as a workshop. When you spend a lot of time in there, tinkering on your car or building birdhouses at your workbench, you need to keep the space comfortable. Also, if you plan on remodelling the garage to use as an actual room, it makes sense to insulate it in preparation for the transformation into usable living space.
Is Insulating a Garage Door Necessary?
Energy costs fluctuate over time, but with the overall trend always upward, homeowners are increasingly looking for different and additional ways to insulate the home and keep heating and cooling costs down. One area that is frequently examined is the garage—and specifically, the garage door. A garage attached to the house and shares one or more common walls with the home itself can be a source of heat loss, so evaluating the garage makes perfect sense.
The garage door on an attached garage is often seen as a weak link in the thermal envelope on a home, and for a good reason. In most homes, the garage door opens several times a day, exposing most of an entire wall to outdoor air. It is like a giant window wall that isn’t serving its function unless it breaks the thermal envelope in a huge way whenever needed. For this reason, efforts to seal and insulate a garage are thwarted by the very way a garage door functions. Unless the garage door is rarely used thoroughly insulating the garage often costs more in materials than you’ll gain from any energy savings enjoyed.
Still, people often feel that adding insulation R-value to the garage door is warranted and necessary. And in a few instances, this may be true.
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Methods for Insulating Garage Doors
Among the solutions, some homeowners try is to apply standard batt insulation to the inside face of the door. Another method is to spray foam insulation on the inside surface—the same kind of insulation sometimes sprayed against roof sheathing from the inside to improve the R-value in an attic.
But garage doors are meant to function. They need to open and close regularly, often hinging or folding at several different points. So neither bat insulation nor spray foam insulation is going to work well on the garage door. Even if you find products designed for application against a garage door, the constant movement of the garage door will eventually cause them to flake, pull apart, and fail—which means that you’re looking at insulating your door again and again. This is hardly cost-effective over the long haul.
If you intend on an energy-efficient garage door, a better alternative is to purchase a garage door already insulated. Rather than a metal door, which conducts heat and cold easily, choose a fibreglass door with a foam core, which will help stop some of the garage’s energy loss. If you’re planning on replacing your garage door, looking into an insulated model is probably a good idea. But it probably does not make financial sense to replace an otherwise good garage door with an insulated model just for the energy savings potential.
Insulate the Rest of the Garage Instead
Garage door insulation is of limited value anyway, given the other areas of the garage that are equally problematic in terms of heat loss. Your garage floor is probably built on a slab, which means that it isn’t insulated and is an ongoing source of energy transference. If your garage has concrete walls, these, too, are constant sources of heat transference. If you take the time and spend the money to insulate the entire garage, you may well be disappointed by seeing a very minimal improvement on your energy bills.
Rather than attempting to insulate the garage door and other components of the garage itself, a much more effective solution is to focus your attention on the boundary walls between the main house and the attached garage. Put insulation into the garage ceiling so it helps stop the loss of energy to space above, where it may connect to the house attic. Ensure there is plenty of insulation on the garage’s interior wall—the wall shared with the house itself. By doing so, even if the temperature fluctuates inside the garage, it won’t significantly affect the temperature inside your home or raise your energy bills.
While most contractors will tell you to insulate the transfer points from the garage to the house itself, there are still times when you may want to further insulate the garage door, as well as the walls and floor of the garage. If you use your garage as a living space, rather than as a storage area for cars and other items, then you may be heating or cooling the area anyway, and the garage door may not operate much. In this instance, it does make sense to maximize the R-value of the walls, floors, ceiling, as well as the garage door.
This can be true of both attached garages and those that are detached and separate from the house. If you are supplying supplemental heat or air conditioning to a detached garage, you’ll want to make every aspect of the garage as energy-efficient as possible. It has been shown that an energy-efficient R-18 garage door can keep the garage space about 12 degrees warmer in winter months and about 25 degrees cooler in summer. But remember that an energy-efficient double garage door costs somewhere between $1500 and $2000, so it will take considerable time to pay back the cost of the door in terms of energy savings. And it only makes sense for spaces where the garage door won’t be opened routinely to break the energy envelope.
Another option where the garage will be used for living space is to insulate the door with a garage door insulation kit, available at home centres. There are two types of kits usually available. A vinyl-faced fibreglass batting kit provides a decent R-8 insulating value for the door; two kits will cover a standard 16-foot wide garage door. This type of soft insulation is taped to the inside surface of the door. Another option is to by precut expanded polystyrene (EPS) rigid foam panels and apply them to the door. The panels are cut to length and snapped into the space between the horizontal rails on the door panels. This type of kit provides an insulating value of roughly R-4.
Most people think of improving energy efficiency in terms of adding insulation. Still, the reality is that a significant degree of heat loss occurs because of air gaps where drafts occur. Insulating a garage will be of limited value if door gaskets, window weatherstripping, and other air gaps are still providing places for air to flow. Always seal these areas when you are addressing the energy efficiency of a garage.
If you use your garage as storage for your cars and other items, you’re probably better off leaving the door alone and insulating the ceiling of your garage and the walls that are shared with the home instead. If you use your garage as a living space, however, it’s probably worth your while to insulate the door as well as other elements of the garage. Make your decision based on your lifestyle and needs.
What Are the Benefits of Insulating a Garage?
Your garage is one of the largest and most frequently-used rooms in your home, and chances are it is also one of the most neglected spaces. The good news is that giving your garage a little love can lead to big benefits. The cost to insulate garage walls and ceilings is also likely much lower than you might expect.
Here are some of the many perks you’ll enjoy by insulating your garage:
Regulates Garage Temperature
- The air temperature in your garage will be much warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Insulation eliminates that uncomfortable rush of frigid or humid air that enters your home every time you open the door to the garage.
- You’ll be able to store temperature-sensitive cleaners, paints, and tools without worrying they’ll either freeze or melt.
- If you have water lines running through the walls of your garage, adding insulation will help prevent frozen pipes.
- In hot, humid climates, insulating your garage can help keep moisture levels down to combat rust on your car, metal tools, bicycles, and other metal surfaces.
Improves Your Garage Hobby Space
- If your garage serves double-duty as a workshop, adding insulation will dramatically decrease sound transmission, helping to keep your family (and neighbours) happy while testing out your latest power tools.
- Car lovers can be reassured knowing their prized possessions will be better maintained with effective garage insulation.
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Adds Safety Precautions
- Insulating the walls of your garage and adding drywall places a layer of protection around electrical wires and cables in your walls from damage caused by mice and other rodents.
- Garage insulation can help prevent deadly carbon monoxide gases from seeping through your walls into your living spaces.
Insulating a garage can also add a significant level of fire protection for your family since the best insulation for garages is fire-rated. This means the insulation won’t release toxic gases, smoke, or burn quickly if exposed to flames. This protection can make all the difference if an accidental fire starts in your garage.
The best way to make your garage a little more comfortable is to stop any cold air infiltrating into your garage from outside. Put new weatherstripping down where the garage door makes contact with the ground. Make sure the seal is intact, and no air is coming in around an exterior door frame. Use expanding foam to fill in gaps. These are good first steps that will only cost you about $80 and can make quite a difference. Even a slight draft can make your garage feel much colder than it is, especially when it’s 10°F outside.
You wouldn’t leave the weatherstripping off a window or door in your living space, and the same rule applies to your garage. Be sure to complete your garage insulation project by sealing all gaps around the windows and doors. Selecting high-quality weatherstripping will maximize the efficiency of your garage insulation project.
The next time you’re looking for a home improvement project that delivers a great return on your investment, give some serious thought to insulating your garage.