5 Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency For Metal Buildings

While galvanized steel paneling may make metal carports durable and long-lasting, the material also tends to transfer heat readily between the interior and exterior of these buildings. This has led to metal buildings developing an unfair reputation that they are inefficient to try to heat or cool. While basic metal carports with no insulation or special features may use more energy, it only takes a few simple upgrades to make the structure much more efficient. All of these tips are essential if you plan to live or work in your metal buildings year round, but they’re also useful even if you only occasionally plan to light or heat the space.  

Shape and Size

The shape, size, and layout of the steel building plays a large role in how efficient it is to heat or cool. High ceilings tend to lift heat away from the floor and trap it, leaving you cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Large spaces with few to no internal dividers are slow to change temperature, which becomes a problem when you’re trying to warm or heat an uncomfortable garage. Long wings are harder to heat than centralized shapes, so you may find it more efficient to split heaters or air conditioning units if your metal buildings only share a minimal amount of airspace.  

Color Options

Dark exterior finishes may help your metal carports or steel buildings blend in with their surroundings, but the wrong color choices can also lead to a hotter structure that is harder to cool. The heat absorption becomes useful in the winter, but usually isn’t reliable enough to make it worth the heat gain in the summer. White and silver finishes are far from your only options for reflecting heat. Reflective particles are available to add to nearly any color of steel coating. You can keep your metal buildings cooler in the summer while using less electricity simply by requesting a reflective coating.  

Insulation Choices

For improved energy efficiency in both winter and summer, your metal buildings need proper insulation. Adding a condensation-proof material at the recommended R-value may cost more than you expect, but the initial investment will pay off for years in lower energy bills. Some of the best options for insulating steel buildings include:
  • Loose fill blown into wall enclosures made with sheet rock or radiant barrier materials. These materials dry out fairly well if they get wet from condensation and are easily replaced when necessary.
  • Rigid foam boards. Installation goes quickly and the boards are more crush and compaction resistant than batts or fill. Foil backed boards offer radiant barrier effects for more heat blocking as well as shedding water if there’s any condensation.
  • Fiberglass batts. You’ll need to cover the insulation with sheetrock or some other finishing material, and they tend to compress when wet and don’t dry out well. As long as you can control the humidity and condensation with other methods, it’s the most affordable and widely available option for insulating.
  • Spray foam. While some experts on metal buildings are concerned about its potential to trap moisture and cause rust, open-celled foam generally dries out well enough to be used in metal carports. This material tends to crack if applied over joints that expand and contract.

Ventilation and Natural Cooling

Tapping into the power of ventilation is a great way to control the temperature in your metal buildings without using as much electricity. Manual vents placed high in the eaves of the building draw hot air out naturally, while powered fans speed up the process dramatically. Taking advantage of natural cooling methods like planting shade trees can also make a big difference in the energy efficiency of your metal buildings, especially if you use them daily.  

Lighting for Less

Most of the energy used in a metal building goes to heating or cooling, but lighting also plays a major role in increasing your electrical bills. Even with windows, metal buildings are naturally darker than other structures when completely enclosed. Open metal carports are still often darker than what’s optimal for making car repairs. Installing skylights and solar tubes is one of the best ways to add more natural light. With proper sealing, it’s relatively easy to cut into the metal roof paneling and pop in the new fixture. New windows are another good option, but the layout of most metal carports limits how much light will actually enter the space through them. Skylights tend to work better due to the high ceilings and open layouts of most metal buildings. Advanced features like factory insulated wall panels and customized lighting options are available to help you make your metal buildings as efficient as possible. Regardless of how you plan to use the space, take advantage of these tips to spend less on heating, cooling, lighting, and more.