With heating and cooling costs continuously on the rise, more and more homeowners are looking at areas to insulate in their homes to help keep these costs down. One of the areas frequently looked at in terms of insulating is the garage door.
The garage door is often seen as a kind of window wall – or bad wall – it lets air in, which changes the temperature inside the garage. And when your garage is attached to the rest of your house, this, in turn, leads to temperature changes that could be avoided.
But is insulating the door really the answer?
Types of Garage Door Insulation
Garage doors are meant to function. They need to open and close on a regular basis, often hinging or folding at several different points. So bat insulation or spray foam insulation aren't going to work well on the door. Yes, you may find some types that are meant to be used in this area, but 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.
A better alternative is to purchase a garage door that is already insulated. Rather than a metal door that conducts heat and cold easily, insulated doors help stop some of the energy loss from the garage. If you're planning on replacing your garage door, looking into an insulated model is probably a good idea.
Reasons to Insulate the Rest of the Garage Instead
Even if you take the time to insulate your garage door, or purchase a pre-insulated door, you have a few other issues to deal with in your garage.
The floor of your garage is probably built on a slab, which means that it isn't insulated and is transferring in cold air during the winter that is then transferred to your house. The concrete walls of your garage probably aren't doing your home any favors either, so even if you take the time to insulate the garage, you probably won't notice much of an improvement on your energy bills.
Instead, consider insulating your home from your garage. Put insulation into the ceiling of the garage so it helps stop the loss of energy to the room above. Make sure there is plenty of insulation on the interior wall of the garage where it attaches to the rest of your home. By doing so, even if the temperature fluctuates inside the garage itself, it isn't going to affect the temperature inside your home or raise your energy bills.
The Exception to the Rule
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 living space, rather than as storage or utility space, then you will probably be heating or cooling the area. So if you use your garage as a workspace, craft room, or daycare, you should think of it as a part of the home, and not seal it off. In this case, the garage door is a huge energy sink, which should be insulated to help keep the interior comfortable, while lowering your energy costs.
The Bottom Line
If you use your garage as storage, you're probably better off leaving the door alone and insulating the walls and ceiling of your garage instead.
If you use your garage as living space, however, it's probably worth your while to insulate the door. Make your decision based on your lifestyle and needs and know you're doing your best to keep your energy costs down.