The heart of any home is obviously the kitchen. But when it comes to going green, your garage might just become the sustainability hub you never expected. With the rise in electric vehicles, many families are looking to improve their garages with batteries for charging EVs. But there are plenty of other ways to uplift these multi-purpose spaces.
Make the space more sustainable
We’re quick to jump to solar panels and energy-efficient appliances when we want to make our homes more sustainable. But the humble garage has plenty of potential to make a positive impact on your energy bills and your carbon footprint. From what you can install to what you can use the space for, let’s take a look at the steps you can take to make your garage more sustainable.
Garages often come with no or minimal windows, making your choice of lighting really important as you’ll often be relying on artificial light to brighten the space. Choose energy-efficient lighting like LED light bulbs over halogen bulbs to help minimise the drain on your energy bill.
As a utility space, garages are often forgotten when it comes to insulation. They can quickly build up heat in the summer or feel the chill in the winter. Installing ceiling insulation may reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 45 per cent, while you might benefit from wall insulation reducing your heating and cooling costs by up to 20 per cent.
Also, don’t forget the garage door – because they often aren’t insulated, garage doors can be a source of heat leaks. Choose a door designed to be energy-efficient which includes eco-friendly insulation to minimise heat loss.
Poorly sealed windows and garage doors are a major source of droughts in many homes. The cool air blowing through the garage can quickly undo your efforts to keep the rest of the house warm in winter. To keep the chilly wind out and the inside temperature cosy, look to add or replace weather stripping to the bottom of your garage door in particular, as well as the sides and top of the door and around any windows or sliding doors. This is a relatively low-cost way to make your home energy-efficient.
Install sustainable devices
If you’ve made the exciting leap into driving an electric vehicle (or plan to), you’ll likely be thinking about how to best charge your car. While you can charge your car from a standard outlet, it takes time (especially compared to public charging stations). Installing a wall box or dedicated EV fast charger at home gives you the flexibility and convenience to regularly charge your vehicle at home in a fraction of the time of a standard wall socket.
Exactly which charging device is right for you will depend on a number of factors, including your type of car, whether your home has single-phase or 3-phase power, and whether you have solar installed in your home. Some chargers even have a solar-only charging mode, helping to reduce your energy consumption and the cost of charging your car.
If you’re located in the Northern Territory, you might also be able to receive a grant of up to $1,000 to install a charger in your home. If you’re living in another state, keep an eye on your state government website to see if any grants or rebates are available.
Knowledge is power when it comes to making your home and garage more sustainable. That’s why it’s a good idea to install a smart meter to help you monitor your heating and electricity usage. Smart meters are installed wherever your existing electricity meter is installed, which may be inside or outside your garage. They digitally monitor your electricity consumption in real time, helping you track your energy use.
Solar batteries (where suitable)
Solar panels are a great way to harness the power of the sun for your home energy and reduce your energy use (and cost) from the grid. But they only produce this energy while the sun is shining. Solar batteries help you store any excess energy your solar panels are generating during the day to use later, helping you to save power day and night.
A garage is a great place to keep your solar battery, but be sure to check your solar battery guidelines first. While some batteries are designed to be installed indoors in a garage or laundry, strict guidelines apply, and many homeowners find the best place for their solar battery is a sheltered spot outside their home. Explore the Clean Energy Council's battery guide and search our marketplace to find a battery expert in your area to help you decide the best location for a solar battery in your home.
Use the space wisely
To get the most out of your garage, it’s important to be organised. Consider having a spring clean and investing in some storage. Giving items in your garage a proper home makes them easier to access and find, helping you to avoid the trap of purchasing items you already have (and reducing waste). For maximum garage sustainability when installing new storage, go for eco-friendly containers, recycled pallets, and shelving made from sustainable materials.
Recycle hazardous waste
While you’re reorganising your garage, be mindful of what you do with your waste. You probably don’t need a garage full of old paint cans and motor oil, but avoid dumping those items in your household rubbish as they’ll end up in a landfill and harm the environment. Collect up all your old items and head to your local recycling centre to dispose of your waste safely.