Seven Ways to Make Your Garage More Green

home electric car charging station garage

Today, the world is celebrating Earth Day, a day for renewed appreciation of the earth and the environment. It’s also an excellent time to examine ways that we can live a more earth-friendly lifestyle. We often consider how to make our homes greener. Yet, an important part of our homes is often overlooked: the garage. However, there are several ways, big and small, that we can incorporate our garages in the plan to make our homes more eco-friendly.

Get Green Garage Doors

If you have an attached garage, a significant amount of heating and cooling energy escapes your home through the garage. A lack of insulation in the garage door, coupled with its frequent opening and closing, can make your garage extremely cold in the winter and uncomfortably warm in the summer. Any room sharing a wall with your garage will experience energy loss. However, an insulated, energy-efficient garage door can mitigate the temperature difference, reducing energy loss by more than seventy percent. This results in considerable savings on your energy bill.

home electric car charging station garageEnergy-efficient garage doors are more expensive. So do your research and check the R-value of any door you’re considering. This number represents the door’s ability to resist heat flow (in or out). The higher the R-value is, the stronger the door’s insulation properties. In addition to being energy-efficient, many green garage doors are made of recycled material.

Use Solar Power to Light Your Garage

Looking for a way to reduce your energy bill while also keeping your home safe? Install solar-powered floodlights and/or lanterns on the garage exterior. Install solar-powered spotlights along your driveway. These energy-saving lights are reasonably-priced at a local big box store and can be installed fairly easily. Solar-powered lights will make your home safer and more beautiful. The energy savings you’ll enjoy can quickly recoup the cost of the lighting.

Make the Switch from Incandescent Bulbs

You might not be prepared to invest in solar-powered indoor lighting. Yet, there’s another way to go green with your indoor lighting. Make the switch from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs. CFL or LED bulbs will cost a bit more than incandescent light bulbs. However, an incandescent bulb lasts for about a year while a CFL bulb can last up to ten years and an LED bulb can last up to twenty-five years. CFL and LED lights are also more efficient in their energy use, unlike incandescent bulbs which waste up to 90% of their energy consumption on heat, rather than light.   

Use Lighting with Motion Detectors

Take the energy-efficiency of your outdoor and indoor lighting one step further by incorporating motion detectors. Exterior lighting with motion sensors provides an additional layer of security to your home. Inside the garage, lights with motion sensors will automatically shut off when there is no movement in the garage. This eliminates the energy waste experienced when someone inadvertently leaves the lights on inside the garage.

Mind the Gaps

Another place where energy is lost in your home is through the gaps between the walls and floor of your garage. Over time the garage settles and the spaces between the floor and the walls widen. Heating and cooling is lost through these gaps as air escapes into the garage. This can be resolved with a relatively simple and inexpensive fix. Get some caulk and a caulk gun and fill in the spaces. Talk to the clerk at your local hardware store to ensure that you purchase the appropriate caulk for the job.

Put your hand near the perimeter of the door between the house and the garage. Do you feel a draft? If so, cold air is seeping into the house through the gap around your door. Close this conduit for drafty air with inexpensive weather stripping. It’s an incredibly simple job that you can do in less than an hour with a few simple tools. Weather stripping will make your home warmer and more comfortable, plus you’ll see a reduction in your energy bills.

There’s one more gap that needs minding. Since there isn’t a visible gap around your electrical outlets and lighting fixtures, you might not realize that air can also seep through the spaces around them. Additionally, carbon monoxide fumes can escape from your garage into your home through those fixtures. To remedy the situation, simply buy an inexpensive package of fire-resistant foam seals made for this purpose. Remove the faceplate. Place the seal. Replace the faceplate. Voila! You’re done. After you’ve sealed all of the faceplates between the house and garage, put seals on all outlets and light switches on exterior walls inside your home for maximum benefit.

Capture and Reuse Rainwater

Take your commitment to going green up a notch by capturing and reusing rain water for jobs that don’t require potable water. For instance, recycled rainwater can be used to water the lawn, wash the car or bathe the dog. Purchase a rain barrel and then install it in three easy steps. Measure the height of the barrel. Cut the downspout. Then install the elbow that will divert rainwater into your barrel. The next time it rains you’ll be collecting fresh water. The best part? You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a reduced water bill.

Install a Car Charging Station in Your Garage

What better way is there to make your garage greener than to switch to an eco-friendly vehicle, like a hybrid or all-electric car? If you’re considering making the switch, there’s one more eco-friendly element you’ll need to add to your garage. You’ll need to install Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE), or what is often called a car “charging” station. This allows for convenient, overnight charging of your vehicle.

Doing our part to help the environment may feel overwhelming, at times. However, a greener lifestyle doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposal. Every little bit helps. Start by incorporating one or two green initiatives into your daily lifestyle. Do the options discussed here seem like more than you’re ready to take on alone? If you want to make your garage greener, but you aren’t sure how request a garage renovation consultation. Alternately, you can start smaller. Check our most recent post for seven easy ways to go green this spring.

Five Ways to Go Green This Spring

rechargeable battery powered lawnmower

Spring has finally arrived ushering in warmer weather and a desire for fresh new beginnings. You’ve probably already begun spring cleaning in your home, but what can you do to give your garage a fresh, new feel, too? Let’s look at five simple ways you can be more mindful of the environment as you prepare for spring.

Increase the Fuel Efficiency of Your Vehicle

Just like your home, your car needs a little attention after a long, hard winter. Keep your car tuned up and use the grade of oil recommended by the manufacturer to improve gas mileage. Another, simple way to increase gas mileage is by keeping tires inflated to the optimal pressure. Check the inside of your driver’s side door jamb to see the tire pressure recommended by the manufacturer.

Create a Recycling Station

Recycling prevents reusable resources from ending up in overflowing landfills. It also saves energy and reduces the consumption of raw materials in manufacturing. The convenient Blue Box recycling program in most communities makes it easy for everyone to contribute to cleaning up the environment. Make recycling even easier by creating a recycling station in your home or garage. Ensure that everyone in your home understands the importance of recycling, what items should be placed in the Blue Box and how to prep items before discarding them.

Repurpose Items or Donate Items

As you go through your home and garage during spring cleaning, you’ll probably discover items that you no longer use. Some of those items can be repurposed. For instance, an old, unused kitchen table might make a good craft or workshop table. Old muffin tins in the kitchen could make a great place to store nuts and bolts in the garage.

Other items have lost their usefulness in your home, but would be welcomed in someone else’s. Consider donating items that are in good condition, but just don’t fit your family’s needs anymore.

Reduce Water Usage

Conservation is critical to the environment. One of our most important assets is potable water. Review your family’s water usage and look for ways to cut back. For instance, can you reduce the frequency with which you wash the car? If you wash the car at home, don’t use the hose while washing your car. Instead, use a bucket of soapy water. This switch alone can save hundreds of litres of water each wash.

Water your lawn early or late in the day, rather than when the sun is highest, to avoid water waste through evaporation. Also avoid watering the lawn on a windy day. Deep water your lawn. This helps to establish a deeper root system and will allow moisture to reach the roots, where it’s most needed. Water your lawn only when it is needed. Skip watering on weeks when there is a good, hard rain. Another option is to install a rain barrel and reuse rainwater to water your lawn and wash your car.

rechargeable battery powered lawnmowerEco-friendly Lawn Care

A discussion about environmentally-conscious lawn care wouldn’t be complete without examining your lawn mower. Gas and electric lawn mowers require energy consumption. Your lawn, and the environment, can benefit from less frequent mowing. So only mow the grass when necessary.  When you do cut your lawn, don’t cut it too low. A height of six to eight centimeters will help retain water and establish a deeper root system.

If you’re in the market for a new lawn mower, electric lawn mowers are more environmentally-friendly than their gas-powered counterparts. Electric lawn mowers are cleaner and quieter. They are less polluting to the environment and don’t reek of gasoline. Neither do they require the maintenance necessary with a gas-powered mower. If the thought of navigating with an unwieldy cord in tow makes you hesitant to switch to an electric mower, opt for a battery-powered electric mower instead.

Properly Store & Dispose of Chemicals

In a recent post, we discussed how to properly store chemicals in your garage. Keep chemicals out of the reach of children and small animals. Store them in their proper containers. Make sure all chemicals are properly labeled. When disposing of chemicals, check the label first. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the proper way to dispose of the chemical. Pouring toxic chemicals down the drain is harmful to the environment and can be corrosive to plumbing. Instead, make use of household hazardous waste drop-off depots in your area.

Use No or Low-VOC Products

Whenever possible, choose no or low-VOC (volatile organic compound) products to get household jobs done. Many manufacturers offer lines of zero and low-VOC interior and exterior paints, primers, stains, coatings and sealants. These products are often low or non-toxic, making them safer for the environment and for your family.

Being mindful of the environment as you prepare for spring and summer is a great start to living greener. However, with Earth Day coming on April 22nd, we wanted to examine ways to make your garage greener, too. Check back later this month for seven ways to make your garage greener.

Can you and your garage pass the squeeze test?

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Is your garage causing you stress?

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As the season changes, many people find themselves faced with an unappetizing item on their plate, namely the garage and what could have been.  During the warm summer months the very best of intentions were always there.  Yet, somehow the task of organizing, of making sense of all that stuff in the garage never seemed to make it to the top of the to-do list.  This chore kept getting put off to the next weekend, the next available Friday afternoon.  Finally now we find the season change is upon us, and the garage is no better than it was at the start of the season.  The summer ended so much faster than anyone planned on.  Now you may very well feel like you have a monster on your hands. 

To help you come to terms with this, your friendly team here at Nuvo Garage put together a 7 point self-evaluation garage organization quiz.  You can use this quiz to help you figure out where you are and what your best options are at this point.  Relax, no one is going to grade this quiz so this is for your eyes only.  This is just a fun way for you to find out how much you can or cannot squeeze into your garage and whether you experience what we affectionately call Seasonal Garage Anxiety Disorder.

1. Do you feel your blood pressure rising if you pause to consider your garage, the things that need to be moved in, the things that need to be moved out, the things that need to be shuffled around to prepare for the upcoming season?

2. Are you embarrassed to open up your garage door in front of your neighbors for the mess that’s readily visible to anyone that takes a peek inside?

3. If your garage door happens to be open and a friend stops by to chat, do you find yourself apologizing for the mess?

 4. Does your car fit in your garage?  Seriously, if you have a one car garage, will one car fit in there at the same time as all your stuff you have strewn about?  Or, if you have a two car garage, can you comfortably park both cars inside without moving some of your stuff to one corner or the other?  Also, whether it’s a one car or a two car garage, if the car(s) are parked in the garage, can you safely get to your car without stumbling over piles of your stuff?

 5. Do truly know where your stuff is?  If you suddenly need a pair of shears to trim the bushes out front, can you locate them without hunting all over the garage?

 6. Do you actually know how much stuff you really have?  You may be surprised to learn that during organization storage solution installations the team here at Nuvo Garage often surprises homeowners.  These homeowners are shocked and amazed to learn there are duplicate or even triplicate tools such as snow shovels, rakes and the like strewn all over the garage.

 7. How much time would you reckon you spend moving piles of stuff around to get to the tools or materials you are looking for at the moment?

 Well, there are your 7 questions.  There is no real score per se, just a self assessment to help you figure out where you are.  As you might imagine, knowing where you are is the first step to moving forward and making a better choice.  So, take a look back at your answers.  Your answers are a big clue for the next step, which as you might have already guessed is better organization. 

 Of course, you are already aware of the value of a proper storage and organization solution since you’ve made it this far and to the end of the quiz.  Now, one last thing, look back to your answers and ask yourself one final question: Is now the time to take some action and get organized?

Green your Garage Transformation

insulated garage

insulated garageWhen you’re transforming your garage into the space you’ve always wanted it to be, there can be more to think about than shelving, cabinets and flooring.  Think energy efficiency when thinking about ways to make your garage green.

Many houses have rooms directly above the garage, and if the garage ceiling is not properly insulated,  the room and the room floor can be cold.

There are other ways you can make your garage more environmentally friendly:

Energy efficient lighting

Often a garage was built with just a single bulb.  If you’re planning on doing anything in your garage other than parking your vehicle, this isn’t enough.  As part of a Nuvo Garage transformation, we install fluorescent lighting as an energy efficient solution which also makes your garage a comfortable place to work and maintain.

Paint

Use BEHR paint with less than fifty VOC (Volatile organic compounds) which also have freeze and thaw capability.  And, while an insulated garage is ideal for lower overall home utility costs and more comfortable connecting rooms, if your garage isn’t insulated, this particular paint won’t crack with the weather extremes.          

Flooring

The flooring we use are also green, using low VOC while being mold resistant, easy to clean with a long lasting finish.

Garage doors

Many garage doors and windows let the heat out.  By instalingl energy efficient doors and windows, your heating costs go down and your garage is a more comfortable room to work in.  I refer people to Aurora Overhead Doors, a company that does a great job.

In with the old

If a customer has things that are re-useable, I’ll use them.  One customer had a Rubbermaid cabinet he was happy with, so rather than sell him a new one, we incorporated it into his storage plan.

Insulated light switches and outlets:

Use switches with foam gaskets that insulate and help secure the connection between the house and the garage.

Finishing details

Caulk between the walls and the floor.  Over time and seasons, the connection can expand and contract, leaving gaps where heat can escape.  Caulking improves the insulation factor while providing a pleasant finish to the garage space.

 

 

Keep your garage smelling clean

garage smell clean air fresh

garage smell clean air freshDoes your garage smell like a garage?  Summertime is the ideal opportunity to clear the air and start fresh.

As I’ve mentioned before, if you have a slatwall system and polyaspartic flooring, cleaning the garage is a breeze. But regardless of what kinds of walls or flooring you have, there are a few things you need to do to minimize dirt and odours:

Keep rodents away:

  • Seal up any spaces where animals can enter.  Have a good look at the walls and the ceiling.  Mice can get in through the tiniest holes.
  • If you must keep garbage in your garage, make sure the bins are well sealed and you wash the containers regularly to get rid of any “come to dinner” smells.

Eliminate mould:

  • Look for white spots on the walls, which indicate dampness. Mildew and mould can form and cause odours and health problems.
  • Check the roof on a garage that is separate from the house. Mould can also form from water coming in through the shingles

Prevent chemicals odours

  • Sort through any hazardous products in the garage and dispose of anything you don’t need.
  • Make sure lids are secure on gas containers or smelly solvents.  It’s best to keep this sort of thing behind doors in a cabinet.

Another important thing to note is if you have a room above your garage, make sure your garage is properly drywalled and sealed.  Dangerous (and odourless) carbon monoxide gas can escape into your room.

Need help?  Give us a call.

 

 

Green de-icing tips from your garage storage expert

Clear Icy Sidewalks with Environmentally Safe De-Icers

 

Salt tends to be the go-to solution when it comes to de-icing sidewalks, but you may be protecting your hips at the cost of the environment. As a de-icer, salt isn’t very eco-friendly. Want to go green?

    1. Remove snow from your sidewalk as soon after a snowfall as possible, preferably using a shovel. The sooner you remove it, the less de-icing you’ll have to do. While a snow blower may handle the removal job more efficiently than a shovel, keep in mind that using one completely defeats your environmental intentions!

 

    1. For traction, sprinkle some birdseed on your freshly cleared sidewalk. As this is a rather costly approach, limit it to small paths only – and don’t sprinkle seeds on the road as this will put hungry little birds in danger.

 

    1. Looking for a cost-effective solution that allows you to de-ice the parking pad outside your garage, as well as other large areas? Visit your grocery store or local hardware store and ask about non-toxic alternatives that don’t have the same harmful side effects as rock salt.

While we’re on the subject of ice, if you missed last month’s post on how to prevent your garage door from freezing, check it out here.

Clear your garage of old batteries, pesticides and other hazardous items

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Since our last post, in which we pointed you to Rona as a great drop-off point for old paint, we came across a fantastic site that will help you clear your garage of everything hazardous – from aerosol containers, oil filters and antifreeze to gas canisters, batteries, pesticides and more.

 

Orange Drop is a Stewardship Ontario initiative that helps Ontarians recycle way beyond the Blue and Green Bin, and their site is really user-friendly.

Here’s what we suggest. Head out to your garage now with pen and paper in hand. Write a list of any hazardous items you’ve been meaning to dispose of. Then go directly to www.makethedrop.ca.

 

Once you’re there:

  • Click on the button that reads “Where do I go to make the drop?”
  • Enter your postal code in the space provided.
  • Use the drop-down menu to select the waste category of the first item on your list.
  • Browse the results page and choose the most convenient location for drop-off.

It’s that simple, so no more excuses. Clear out your garage day. Your car will thank you!

Discarded paint doesn’t belong in your garage

Paint Can Recycling Programs

Paint Can Recycling ProgramsIn our last post, we talked about ways to restore order to your garage so that you can get your vehicle back inside before the season turns. The long and short of it was purge what you don’t need; organize what you do. Following that post, a reader dropped us a note asking how to dispose of leftover paint responsibly. Here’s an easy solution.

Remember the saying “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure?” Well, last January Rona launched a new initiative under Ontario’s Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program. Under that program, you can now drop-off old paint at Rona stores across Ontario. They recondition about 80 percent of what they collect.

Who knows whose walls your old paint will turn up on, but we think you’ll agree that anywhere is better than a landfill.

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