Even if you don't currently have a garage, you are most likely familiar with these indoor areas of parking. In addition, almost everyone has experienced or seen the clutter, disarray and overall takeover that can easily happen to these areas of a house. Simply put, chances are your garage contains much more than cars.
Today's garage is used for storage, housing noisy appliances (washer/dryer), and maybe even shelter for surprise visitors, so while you're cleaning out your garage, consider greening it as well.
- Reuse Your Junk The garage is where products go to collect dust. You don't plan on using them, but you store them in a corner just in case. Sporting goods, books, old electronics; All these items can be reused by someone else, reducing the need to manufacture new products. They don't call it a garage sale for nothing. If you moved all your junk from the garage out to the driveway, you may be surprised what gets sold. Additionally, sites like Craigslist and Freecycle will help you out, as well as second-hand stores to get a tax write-off.
- Check for Hazards The garage is also a popular spot to house hazardous products like motor oil, freon, gasoline, pool chemicals, etc. If you're housing these items in your garage, make sure they are properly stored in their containers. If you need to get rid of any old supplies, don't dump them in the trash. Instead, check for a local household hazardous waste collection event hosted by your municipality, or look for other ways to properly dispose of these items by using Earth911.com's recycling database.
- Pan for Oil Whether or not you work on your own car, the garage is a great place for discovering leaks because your car is stationary for hours at a time. Place a pan underneath where you park and check it weekly for any fluids. If you're leaking, take your car in and get it fixed so you aren't leaving oil on the street. Additionally, if you're changing your own oil, be sure to know the proper steps to changing and recycling it.
- Isolate the Garage Climate The garage is probably one of your least insulated rooms in the house. It will be coldest in the winter, and warmest in the summer. Minimize this impact by keeping any doors closed that connect the garage with your house. This will keep your energy costs down for heating and cooling your home. Additionally, extra appliances like spare refrigerators and freezers can take a toll on your electric bill, especially when you're trying to keep food cool in your summertime garage. For example, a refrigerator uses almost five times the electricity the average television uses. Rather than combating constant temperature fluctuations, assess if you really need a second refrigerator. If so, perhaps a smaller unit for beverages will work better than a full-size cooler.
- Monitor Garage Door Parts
Your garage door has two jobs: to open and to close when you push a button. But lots of individual parts go into this process. Performing some simple maintenance can make a big difference in the end:
• Clean the exterior of the door with a mild detergent and brush. • If the door is made of wood, make sure to keep it rested, and re-coat the sealant once a year. • Make sure the weather stripping stays healthy. Do this by cleaning it with vinyl cleaner. Make sure to keep it lubricated with a silicone-based product. Doing this once a month will keep the stripping pliable. • Making sure your tracks in working order will help the motor do its job. Use a level to check the tracks and make sure they are straight up and down. Make adjustments to the track to keep them level. • Make sure the rollers are in good working in order. When they begin to wear out, simply change them out for new ones. Check the springs and cables every few months for wear. Apply oil to moving parts and clean out any build-up.
If you see potential problems, call a repairman before you have a real problem and have to replace the entire door.
- Chill Out Your Water Heater
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a water heater is the third largest energy expense in a home and typically accounts for about 12 percent of utility bills. Keeping the temperature regulated not only saves energy and resources, but also cuts back on cost.
Consult your water heater manufacturer for recommended temperature settings for both at home use, and when you are away. Do keep in mind though that often factory settings are hotter than needed, and setting it around 120 degrees Fahrenheit will often do the trick. You can also insulate the water heater to help it run more efficiently. Check out more tips from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Do you have any tips to make your garage greener (and maybe cleaner, too)? Share your ideas below!