Smart Lifestyle, curated for you by BGE and Empower Maryland

Issue 2: 2023

That Time of Year

The Mystery Room (Over Your Garage)

Oh, the elusive mystery room.

It has a certain amount of utility. You can see it as a storage unit, if everything you store will hold up to the varying temperatures. This approach can be limited if those temperatures are very varied. You just can’t store anything that could end up melting in the summer or getting freezer burn in the winter. Very limiting.

Another option? The coveted extra guest room. Again, the changing temperatures can be a factor and limit usage—unless you tell your guests they’re on a survival reality TV show, and your mystery room is one of the challenges. Also very limiting.

To sum up: The good news? You have a bonus room. The bad news? You can only use it when Mother Nature allows you to.

Well, that’s about to change.

Mother Nature can’t stop you from turning a seasonal option into a full-fledged, year-round space. Here are a few stages to transform your mystery room into not just a livable room—but a destination—in your home.

What’s behind the walls matters. A lot.

Yes, your ceiling is probably insulated. But how well? Most ceilings have fiberglass insulation. This is good but not great, and your mystery room needs the best. That’s because your mystery room has more surface area in contact with the outside air, making it more susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Every time you open your garage door, it’s like opening a half-dozen windows at the same time. So, yeah, this is the perfect opportunity to knock your insulation up a notch.

Welcome to the world of spray foam insulation. Traditional insulation covers the larger spaces but allows cold and hot air to sneak through cracks. There’s not a complete seal. Spray foam, on the other hand, fills all the nooks and crannies, giving you the tightest seal.

Get your underfoot under control.

Floor insulation is another great way to save. You install it between the floor joists, which are the horizontal structures that underlie your subfloor and finished floor, the latter being the hardwood or carpet you chose for the room.

Insulating below your subfloor has two benefits. First, you get protection from the elements—helping you keep your mystery room comfortable year-round. Second, you get significant sound insulation. That second one is big, especially if your mystery room will double as your kids’ band practice space.

Your windows don’t need to be such a pane. (See what we did there?)

The gaps, the drafts, the leaks—your windows may be more than a constant source of frustration. They could be costing you money. It’s enough to make a person commit to better windows. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, upgrading your windows to ENERGY STAR® certified options could save you an average of 12% on your annual household energy costs.

That’s a lot to take in. You may wonder where to even start. One option would be to take advantage of BGE’s Home Performance Program. A participating contractor will come to your home and assess your spaces, your appliances, your heating and cooling equipment and, yes, even your mystery room. The audit is just $100 (but a $550 value) for BGE customers, and it can help you determine your best course of action. What’s more, you could qualify for rebates on average of $3,000 for your energy-saving home improvements.

It just may be the best way to transform your mystery room into a bonus or guest room that is OMG awesome.