Greening your garage | September 12, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

- September 12, 2008

Greening your garage

Being 'eco-friendly' extends all the way to the garage

Your appliances are all energy-efficient models, your home's insulation is top-notch, and there isn't an incandescent light bulb anywhere in your house. Congratulations--your home is "green." But what about the garage?

If your garage is still full of used automotive fluids, pesticides and chemicals, and still sports a drafty old door and little insulation, it just isn't as green as it could be.

Here are some tips for greening the garage:

First, clean out the garage. It will be hard to launch green habits in a cluttered, disorganized environment. Getting organized will not only help you realize what you have in your garage, it will set the stage for easy implementation of your green garage practices.

Recycle or properly dispose of any used motor oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, pesticides, old paint or other chemicals. If you're not sure how to discard potentially hazardous fluids, seek advice from your municipal waste disposal program. Many towns and counties now offer residential disposal and/or recycling of hazardous liquids.

If your furnace or hot water heater is located in your garage, be sure both are properly insulated, serviced regularly and not obstructed. Storing boxes, tools and other junk against a hot water heater is not only dangerous, it can hinder the heater's performance.

Consider replacing tools that leave a carbon footprint--such as gas-powered lawnmowers and trimmers--with eco-friendly options like electric trimmers or push mowers. Replace your traditional garden hose with water-efficient soaker or drip hoses. These products use less water by delivering a controlled flow directly to plant roots, where it will do the most good.

Once you've greened everything you store inside the garage, turn your attention to the structure itself.

If your garage door is an old, drafty aluminum or wood model, consider replacing it with one made of 100 percent recycled wood fibers.

Using recycled wood fibers bonded together with resins, the doors are manufactured without the use of solid-growth timber. A polystyrene insulated core between the outer composite wood panels of the garage doors also makes them energy-efficient, plus offers excellent sound absorbing qualities.

While you're thinking about insulation, don't forget to check the quality of insulation in the garage walls and ceiling, especially if you have a bonus room above your garage, or it shares an interior wall with the rest of your house. Insulating and sheetrocking garage walls can improve your home's overall energy-efficiency. It's even possible to insulate the concrete slab floor of your garage--a major point of heat loss for any garage.

Finally, think about lighting. If you're still using incandescent lights in your garage, you can increase energy efficiency by replacing them with high efficiency fluorescent bulbs. Or, take advantage of natural light by installing a skylight. Just be sure all weather stripping around your skylight - and around all windows and doors in the garage - is in place and in good repair.



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