September 23 marks the first official day of fall this year, and that means cooler weather is just around the corner. As we all break out the sweaters and scarves and have our natural gas turned back on for the season, there are also lots of things we can do around the home to help save energy. This week, we’re taking a deep dive into the topic of garages and why they can matter when it comes to cutting costs—and what you can do about it.
How can my garage affect my energy bill?
Homeowners often use their garages for everything other than places to simply park cars. Home gyms, workshops and jam rooms are just a few of the possibilities. But even so, the garage isn’t the place most of us spend the majority of time when we’re at home. And so these spaces aren’t typically heated, cooled or insulated from outside weather conditions. And this can present several issues, especially if your garage is attached to your home.
As an attached garage heats up or gets cold—depending on the season—much of that heat and cold can transfer into other parts of your home through adjoining walls and attic spaces, causing your energy costs to be higher. Adding or upgrading insulation can help, potentially shaving 10% to 20% off your heating and cooling expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The size of your garage, its level of insulation, your area’s climate and energy costs will all be factors that affect your total savings.
Are there other reasons to properly insulate my garage?
There could be, yes, even if your garage isn’t attached to your home. Do you keep pets in your garage for any part of the day? Do you have expensive tools, equipment, automobiles or other valuables stored there that could be damaged by extremes in temperature and humidity? Would you just prefer more comfortable temperatures when spending time in your garage? Are you looking for ways to add value to your home? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’ve got a great reason to evaluate your insulation and consider making changes.
What do I need to consider and how much will it cost?
1. Garage Doors:
You’ll want to start by evaluating your garage door—that’s where most of the unwanted hot or cold air is going to enter. Is yours made of insulated panels? Or is it an assemblage of thin sheets of metal or other material? If the latter, you’ve got several options for an upgrade.
Many manufacturers produce pre-insulated garage doors of varying materials and sizes that you can install yourself or have a professional set up. On the pricier end of the cost range, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $7,000 for an insulated garage door, depending on size, materials and whether or not you’re having it professionally installed.
On the less-expensive end, there are a number of upgrade kits on the market that can be applied to preexisting garage doors. On average, these range between $50 and $300, depending on your specific needs and wants. And most are relatively easy for the average do-it-yourselfer to install.
Note that If you’ve decided to upgrade your garage door, you may find it worthwhile to monitor your temperatures for a few days or weeks before insulating other parts of your garage. The door alone could do the trick. If not, you’ll next want to consider your garage walls and the attic space above the ceiling.
2. Garage Attics:
The attic space will be the easiest of these to insulate if yours is lacking. You can check the state of your insulation—or lack thereof—by opening and peering in through the access panel located on most garage ceilings.
This attic space can be insulated in several ways. Foam boards or spray can be applied to the underside of your roof decking, or insulation can also be installed between your rafters on the top-side of your ceiling boards. This latter approach to insulation usually involves fiberglass, cellulose or some form of foam spray. If you don’t see any insulation or notice areas that are missing this energy-saving material, you’ll want to address the issue. Many homeowners choose to do this themselves, as these insulating materials are readily available at home improvement stores.
The average one-car garage in the U.S. is about 200 square feet of floor space, which directly translates to the space above your head in your garage attic. The average cost to insulate a space this size yourself in fiberglass or cellulose is between $150 and $300 (75¢ to $1.50 per square foot).
Or you can hire a professional, which, on average, will double the expense mentioned above. If you’re a Gas South customer in Georgia, we’ve partnered with cooling and heating experts Coolray to bring you big savings on such services. With Gas South, you get 10% off attic insulation with Coolray—learn more about how to save with Coolray.
3. Garage Walls:
Once your attic is buttoned up, you’ll want to address your garage walls. Although it’s best to insulate walls during the initial construction process, there are several options for insulating them after the fact—and without completely tearing the sheet rock and plaster off your walls. These options include spray foam or blow-in cellulose in most cases.
Using the same one-car garage averages mentioned above (about 400 square feet of total wall space), you can expect to pay between $300 and $800 (75¢ to $2 per square foot) using a DIY spray foam kit—double this amount if you’re wanting to have it done professionally.
If you’re using a DIY blow-in cellulose kit, bank on spending between $100 and $600 for the material itself (50¢ to $1.50 per square foot) and then another $100 to $200 per day to rent the blowing machine. Hiring a professional could cost between $400 and $1,000—the blowing machine is already factored in.
If you’re hiring a professional for any of these insulation upgrades, be sure to get a quote from several reputable contractors during your initial planning phase.
We hope this blog on insulating garages was helpful. Although the upfront costs to upgrade your garage can be a little pricey, you’ll save money over time, protect your valuables, boost your home’s worth and contribute to a greener planet. Stay tuned for future Gas South blogs and social media posts that can help you save—it’s just part of how we strive to Be A Fuel For Good.