Stop Freezing! How to Keep Your Garage Warm in Winter

I remember the bitterly cold winters growing up in Pennsylvania. I’d run outside about fifteen minutes before leaving for work to warm up my car.

Honestly, it’s the main reason I moved to Florida. As hot as it gets here, someone once told me, “you can’t shovel heat.”

For everyone up north reading this…I feel your pain. 

I’ve previously discussed how to keep your garage cool in the summer, but I wanted to give you some tips on making your garage warmer in the winter.

Here are some of your options:

  • Replace damaged weatherstripping and seal air leaks 
  • Add insulation to garage walls and your garage door
  • Invest in a separate heat source like:
    • Electric Space Heaters
    • Infrared Heaters
    • Propane Heaters
    • Wall-Mounted Heaters
    • Ductless Heating Systems
    • Radiant heating (heating panels installed beneath the floor) 

So let’s talk about several ways to make your garage warmer in the winter. But first, it’s good to know how warm your garage should be.

Ideal Garage Temperature

There’s no “ideal temperature” for every garage. It depends on where you live and the dew point for that time of year.

Generally speaking, consistent temperatures between 40°F and 65°F are best for anything stored in your garage, including your car. For more details, check out my article discussing the winter garage temperature compared to the outside.

Depending on where you live, you may not need to take drastic steps to heat a garage during winter. 

Sometimes simply sealing off leaks (especially around your garage door) or adding a small space heater is enough. 

That may also help stop your garage door from freezing to the concrete.

Another idea is to add some insulation.

While adding a space heater or other heat source initially seems like the easiest fix, it may cost you more down the road. 

Adding insulation first can help keep that heat inside your garage, reducing energy use and electrical costs.

How Much Warmer Is an Insulated Garage?  

Even without adding a heater, an insulated garage will stay between 10° and 20° warmer than the outside temperature. 

It may not sound like much, but it may just be enough to keep your garage above freezing.

However, if the weather outside is cold enough, you may still need an active heater. 

An insulated garage without a heat source will stay at a much lower temperature than one that is heated. Insulation does not generate heat, only holds it in, and fluorescent or LED lights don’t generate much heat

3 Steps to Keep a Garage Warm in Winter

There are three simple steps that you can take to help keep your garage warm in winter.

Seal Cold Air Leaks

All the insulation in the world won’t mean much if you have gaps around your garage door frame or windows.

Look for cracks on window frames, door gaskets, or gaping holes between your garage door seal and your floor. These gaps allow airflow and create cold drafts in your garage.

Start by:

  • Replacing old or missing weatherstripping: An integrated weatherstrip will block air movement around door frames and rubber gaskets to seal around doors.
  • Caulk around windows and doors: This prevents cold air from seeping into your garage and reduces the risk of mold and wood rot. Most contractors prefer clear silicone caulk.
  • Adding plastic film insulation on windows: While not the best option, these kits can help stop the cold airflow and make it easier to heat your garage in the winter. They are inexpensive and easy to install but may need to be replaced in a few years.

Insulate Your Garage Door and Walls

One of the best investments I made to help regulate the temperature in my garage was to insulate my garage door. 

Some people think that just because your garage isn’t used very often, it doesn’t need to be insulated as well as other rooms in your house. 

While this is true to some extent, garage door insulation goes a long way in warming up your space.

The most effective solution is to insulate your garage walls and ceiling as well. Insulation helps trap the heat in the home and stop heat loss through your garage.

There are several methods you can use to insulate garage doors. The simplest ones include the following:

  • Rigid foam insulation: There are several types of rigid foam insulation, so it can be tough to know which to buy. Examples include extruded polystyrene (XPS), expanded polystyrene (EPS), or polyisocyanurate panel foam. Just ensure they are fire-rated and foil-faced to avoid a potentially disastrous fire.
  • Batt insulation – The batting kits come in either vinyl-faced or foil-faced. Batt insulation is excellent for insulating your walls or ceiling but not for your garage door. Never compress fiberglass batt insulation. It needs pockets of air between the fiberglass particles to be effective.

No matter the insulation you choose for your garage door, both will need adhesive to hold them in place.

Bonus tip: if you’re planning to replace the garage door, opt for an insulated garage door.

When it comes to insulating garage walls, you have two options: fiberglass batt insulation and spray foam insulation. 

Batt insulation is easy to install, and I used this method to insulate my garage

Compared to batt insulation, spray insulation is more complicated to install but allows for less air to seep in.

Building codes require insulating any wall between your garage and living spaces. This will ensure the living area will not be affected even if the temperature drops within the garage.

However, this doesn’t apply to any exterior garage walls.

Insulating the garage ceiling involves the same process as insulating your walls. This is particularly useful if an attic, bedroom, or living space rests above.

Add a Garage Heater

Insulation and new seals help keep the cold air out, but the only way to keep your garage warm during the winter is to add a heat source. 

Garage heaters come in several different styles and power sources. Choosing the right one depends on your garage’s size, your home’s construction, and the cost of energy in your area.  

For example, electric heaters are great for smaller spaces. They’re usually inexpensive to purchase but can be a bit expensive to run. In contrast, a propane heater is much more efficient but typically requires permits to install. 

But more important than how you power your heater is what size heater to get. 

You want an affordable, energy-efficient unit that won’t cost more than necessary to run.

I’ve written a helpful garage heater buyer’s guide that you should check out!

Types of Garage Heaters

Here’s a brief overview of the different types of garage heating systems to keep your garage warmer in the cold winter months:

Portable Electric Space Heater 

Except for using a wood-burning stove, electric space heaters are as simple as it gets.

These heaters can provide a small amount of extra heat to help take the edge off frigid temperatures. They work great as supplemental heating sources in garages where the temperature only gets below freezing for brief periods.

Space heaters use considerably less energy than most heating systems and are easy to use.

However, they carry risks that can cause damage if used incorrectly or carelessly.

Many heaters offer safety features that immediately turn off the heating element when tipped over and shielding to prevent fires. Be sure to look out for these types of safety features when shopping for a space heater.

Electric Wall-Mounted Heater 

Wall-mounted electric heaters are similar to portable space heaters but up the power level considerably.

Some units plug into a standard wall outlet, but heavier-duty models usually require a 240-volt outlet.

Since most homes aren’t constructed with this type of outlet, wall-mounted electric heaters typically need to be professionally installed.

Dollar-for-dollar, industrial wall-mounted heaters are one of the best solutions for heating large garages.

Infrared Heater 

Traditional heaters work by blowing hot air into the room. Infrared heaters heat objects directly in front of it rather than the air itself. This way, the objects will remain warm even if you turn off the heater.

It’s a weird thing to try to wrap your head around.

Since they don’t heat the air, these heaters are considerably safer than other portable heaters. Operating costs are less, and also heat a garage in less time.

However, because of how they work, they’re most effective at heating things directly in front of them, not in large areas.

Propane Heater 

Propane heaters are similar to an electric heaters but use propane fuel instead of electricity. They’re highly efficient, inexpensive to operate, and heat a garage very quickly. 

However, because they burn propane or natural gas, they also come with a few drawbacks. 

Your garage must have proper ventilation when using a propane heater. Otherwise, propane and gas heaters can be very dangerous.

Following proper safety precautions, including using a carbon monoxide detector in your garage, is essential. Also, buy a unit with safety features like automatic shut off, overheat protection, and a low oxygen sensor.

Forced-Air Heater 

A forced-air heating system is a more permanent solution since they warm your garage space by blowing hot air through ducts.

They’re fast heating, energy efficient, and affordable, making them popular. 

The major drawback is that if it isn’t installed incorrectly, it can cause leaks in the ductwork. 

This can lead to higher energy costs, low air quality, and a dusty garage. The operating costs of these units are also a bit higher compared to infrared heaters.

Ductless Heating and Cooling System

Ductless systems operate similarly to a mini-split system.

They’re made up of a wall-mounted indoor unit paired with an outdoor compressor. Warm air travels through a connecting conduit and directly into your garage.

The systems are easy to install, take up little space, and are quiet.

Radiant Heating

At the extreme end, installing a hydronic radiant floor heating system is also an efficient way to heat a garage. Typically this heating system is only feasible if you’re planning to build a new garage or tear out your existing floor.

Radiant heating buries water tubes in the concrete slab. When hot water runs through the pipes, it warms the floors above.

The most significant advantage of radiant heat is that it distributes heat evenly, unlike traditional radiators. This means there are no cold spots, so your entire garage is warm and comfortable.

Because it’s installed under the floor, it’s also extremely quiet, and no maintenance is needed. There are also no concerns about toxic fumes or poor air quality because there is no air circulation.

Here’s the kicker: it’s expensive.

The exact cost of a radiant heating system depends on the size of your garage, the floor covering, where you live, and the cost of labor.


When the temperatures drop below freezing outside, there’s nothing worse than seeing your breath when you’re still inside your garage.

Unsurprisingly, the best solution for heating your garage depends on your situation.

How cold it gets where you live obviously makes the biggest impact. You should also consider energy efficiency, how often you’ll need to heat your garage each year, and how permanent a solution you want.

Start by sealing air leaks to keep warm air inside. Next, insulate your garage doors. You can pick up an inexpensive garage door insulation kit for around $100.

Finally, invest in some way to heat the entire garage. When shopping, be sure to think about the total cost of ownership. Purchase costs will vary greatly.

Picking up a portable space heater at Home Depot will be much cheaper than ripping up your concrete floor and installing radiant floor heating. Some options may be cheaper initially but cost much more in the long run.

For more tips and tricks on how to winterize your garage, check out my next article in the series here!

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.