Often an afterthought, your garage can do more than just store your car and tools. It also provides you with an excellent chance to green your home. Below, we discuss some simple changes you can make in your garage to improve your home's environmental performance and save money on energy.
Garage doors containing recycled content are available on the market, including ones made of composite wood or steel. Insulated garage doors are also widely available, which can help keep your garage and any adjacent rooms warmer in the winter, and improve the energy efficiency of your home. For homes in warmer climates, consider a perforated garage door, which allows ventilation and light inside the garage, while providing security and privacy.
As in other parts of the home, sealing and insulating your garage's walls and ceiling can be a cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and money on your utility bills. Download the Do-it-yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR (http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/DIY_Guide_May_2008.pdf) to better understand the importance of air sealing and insulating and key steps to sealing and insulating your garage.
If you have an attached garage, make sure that the door between your house and the garage is air tight through air sealing. Also, avoid idling your car while it is in your garage. The fumes emitted can leak into your home via the connecting door, resulting in indoor air quality issues.
Household Hazardous Waste
Hazardous materials are found in almost every home. If you walk around your garage, you'll
probably find hazardous materials or products you and your family use every day. Leftover
household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are
considered to be household hazardous waste such as certain cleaners, pesticides, and rodenticides.
Highly toxic items should always be treated as hazardous waste. Disposing of household hazardous
wastes improperly pollutes the environment and poses a threat to human health.
You can reduce the impact of household hazardous waste from your home by:
Proper management - Communities offer a variety of options for safely managing
household hazardous waste. Check with your local government for information on programs
in your area.
Reconsidering what you use - Read labels on the products you use and ask yourself,
"Do I really need to use this product?" Safer alternatives may exist. For example, for
some applications, you could use cedar chips instead of mothballs, or boric acid instead
of commercial ant and roach killers.
- Reconsidering your methods - Think about what you do in your home that generates hazardous waste and ask yourself, "Is there a safer way I can be doing this?" For example, you could use sandpaper or a heat gun instead of chemical paint strippers.
For more information on managing household hazardous waste, go to:
Safer Pest Management
A variety of approaches are available to control pests (e.g., insects, vermin) that may enter your garage, however many common insecticides can contain toxic chemicals. The best way to manage pests is to try to prevent them from appearing in the first place. For instance, stop insects from entering your home by removing sources of food, water, and shelter.
If pest prevention does not work, consider natural or less-toxic alternatives to chemical pesticides. If you decide to use chemical pest control products, use them safely and correctly (and do not use any more).
The next time you purchase a new or used car, help your wallet and the environment by choosing a fuel efficient model. This includes vehicles that obtain high miles per gallon (MPG), hybrid vehicles, or vehicles that run on alternative fuels other than gasoline (e.g., biodiesel). You can save as much as $200-$1,500 in fuel costs each year by choosing the most efficient vehicle that meets your needs. Choosing a more efficient car is also one way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy sustainability.
Plug-in hybrid electric cars are another fuel efficient option on the market. The federal government is investing $400 million in electric car production infrastructure. Part of the economic recovery program includes a $7,500 tax credit to encourage Americans to buy them. When building a new garage, consider installing a plug-in outlet for a plug-in hybrid-electric car, to make your home is ready should you decide to purchase an electric car in the future.
For more information on fuel economy, including gas mileage tips and tax incentives, go to:
Many communities are set up to allow for a variety of transportation choices beyond your car, such as pedestrian friendly sidewalks for walking, bike friendly paths and roadways, and public transportation options (e.g., buses, trains). Try integrating alternative transport into your every day life. Also consider carpooling to work or telecommuting (if your employer is open to it) a few times a week. Using your car less will save you money on gas, increase your activity levels through walking and biking, often eases your commute to work and reduces air pollution and green house gases.
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