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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just moved to a new place with a thermostat controlled natural gas heater. Shop is well insulated.

Looking for the experience of those with heated shop spaces in the upper midwest/northern climates.

Is it lest costly to leave the thermostat set at say 45 degrees all the time or to shut the heating system down and only turn it on when working in the space.

I only have experience with an unheated space and utilizing kerosene or lpg heaters.
 

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Congrats on the new shop! I’m in Mass and I keep mine at 55, and there’s a thread on Garage Journal,( a different forum), about this subject and a lot of guys keep it about the same. My thought is that it’s just warm enough to avoid radiant cooling from any metal in the shop and keeps condensation from forming. If the shop is well insulated, I would try keeping the heat on and see how it goes.
 
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Nice! Heated garage. 👍
In my experience is pays to leave the heat running. Just like a house that is insulated, it cost less to keep it cool/hot than to reduce/increase the temp all at once. 55* is a good number.

I proved that to my ex-wife. We cooled the house her way (turn it down when we're not home, back up when we get home) for a month and wrote down what the electric cost that month. Then my way maintaining the temp all day all month. I won by $20 and it was cool when I walked in the door I didn't have to wait.
The same thing with heating the house. I won again............... ;)
 
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Just moved to a new place with a thermostat controlled natural gas heater. Shop is well insulated.

Looking for the experience of those with heated shop spaces in the upper midwest/northern climates.

Is it lest costly to leave the thermostat set at say 45 degrees all the time or to shut the heating system down and only turn it on when working in the space.

I only have experience with an unheated space and utilizing kerosene or lpg heaters.
It really depends on how many days between using the shop and not using the shop--if not in there for days then turn it off. IMHO
 

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Agreed with Sparklie. If you are using the garage/shop daily or even bi-daily then keep it at a comfortable temp all the time and then turn it up as needed. If you are using the garage/shop once per week or less, just leave it off and turn it on as needed. Unless you have a need/desire to keep some heat in there (car snow melt, etc).

I'm in Iowa and have hydronic radiant floor heat in my garage and an overhead heater. The floor would take a full day to rise to 65 if I left it off. So, I keep the floor at about 55 all winter then turn the overhead heater on to bring the temp up if I'm out there or the kids want to play out there. If I know I'll be out there a day before hand (like the boys are coming over), then I'll turn the floor up to 65 the day before.
 

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I am in Northern IL. I keep my garage, (24X26) at a minimum of 70 degrees 24/7. I am in my garage everyday. I am there now, and I absolutely hate cold. I tried turning it down at night before. My garage is well insulated, but still took a long time to get back to 70 every morning. I have a hanging natural gas heater. If you won't be in your garage for an extended period, several days, turn it down. Otherwise leave it set.
 

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In my external garage, I have an old gas furnace in it (was the house furnace, replaced it with a newer, more efficient one in the house, and the old one moved to the garage). It's total overkill for the garage (it's 80 or 100k btu for a 25x40 garage), it doesn't take long for garage to get up to temp. I leave it off, and only turn it on if I'm working in the garage during the winter. The main problem with using it this way, is when the garage is cold, the furnace heats the air up fairly quickly, but the thermostat doesn't heat up as quickly, so the air gets too warm (I wind up manually turning the thermostat on/off to maintain a reasonable temp). If I leave the garage heated for some time, like all day or overnight for paint to dry, then the thermostat can better manage the furnace.
 

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If you park in there you will quickly learn to love getting into a car that isn’t freezing when it’s nasty cold outside. Not scraping windows is a true luxury. I park outside 3 seasons but I clean all the bikes and other crap out of my spot for the winter.


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I keep my barn at 40 degrees minimum as I have stuff stored out there that should not be frozen. I only use the barn for emergency repairs on my tractor if required. If I plan on being out there for a project I will turn it up to 65 a few hours before I go out or over night if I have to melt snow off the tractor and don't have an emergency repair. I keep most of my tractor attachments and pick-up on that heated side as well as freezable liquids. Motor home and other things are stored in the non-heated/non-insulated half of the barn. Pick-up is seldom used now days and is hooked up to a Battery Minder charger. (less than 250 Miles last year).. I also heat with Propane and live in northwest lower Michigan.
 

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I have a 24X30 2 car well insulated garage. We park the cars in there. I keep it at 50 when I'm not out there and 62 when I am working on something. I live in middle of Wisconsin. Its natural gas hanging furnace and my bill runs about 6 to 8 extra bucks a month to heat the garage. That's We energies. Its a fine luxury jumping in warm cars or pulling in something to work on in a warm area. This is just my 2nd winter with a heated garage . Wish I would have done it years ago. Heat it 24/7 you wont regret it.
 

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I keep my shop set at 50º all winter. I use 2 heat sources. A waste oil burner, and a wood/coal stove. Through the winter, I'm in the shop 5-6 days a week all day, after the chores are done, one of the perks of being retired. Although not nearly as expensive to operate as natural gas, there is still some cost involved for fuel. Once I'm in the shop, I'll set the thermostat to 70º to make it more comfortable, while I'm firing up the wood coal stove. It doesn't take all that long to get the wood stove up to op. temp., after that initial warm up of the waste oil furnace, it won't kick back onall day. Setting the thermostat back to 50º, it will keep shopwarm, until I get back out there.

But, the main point is to keep that concrete floor warm. If no heat is left on, cold will radiate off that floor all day. Plus the fact, I have 12' ceilings. while it may be a comfortable 65º to 70º, it's probably close to 90º at the ceiling. For now, I've been using a 20" box fan laying back on a 45º-60º angle towards the ceiling to circulate that warm air downward. I've been toying with the idea of mounting a ceiling fan, and having it controlled through an adjustable temp. snap switch inline of the power source to turn on when ceiling temps reach 85º-90º. A lot less wire to run using a thermostat. Just need an on/off wall mounted switch, so it won't run in the summer, unless I want it to, to circulate some air.
 

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Just moved to a new place with a thermostat controlled natural gas heater. Shop is well insulated.

Looking for the experience of those with heated shop spaces in the upper midwest/northern climates.

Is it lest costly to leave the thermostat set at say 45 degrees all the time or to shut the heating system down and only turn it on when working in the space.

I only have experience with an unheated space and utilizing kerosene or lpg heaters.
Depends on the size of the shop vs. the BTU of the furnace. I put a used 70,000 BTU unit removed from a house in my 2 car shop. I could turn it on and warm the shop in 5 minutes on a cold day so no need to let it run when not needed.
 

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Nice! Heated garage. 👍
In my experience is pays to leave the heat running. Just like a house that is insulated, it cost less to keep it cool/hot than to reduce/increase the temp all at once. 55* is a good number.

I proved that to my ex-wife. We cooled the house her way (turn it down when we're not home, back up when we get home) for a month and wrote down what the electric cost that month. Then my way maintaining the temp all day all month. I won by $20 and it was cool when I walked in the door I didn't have to wait.
The same thing with heating the house. I won again............... ;)
Agreed - if you adjust up and down on a daily or hourly basis... say turn down the heat when you leave for work, and turn it back up when you come back - you will not save any money and may cost more.

However if you were to go-away for a month - ie not come back for 30 days... and set the temp lower for that entire duration... vs keeping it higher while you are away - clearly you will save money turning it down.

So as was mentioned - it all depends on how frequently you plan on going into the garage/shed to do work.... once every 2-3 days?... keep it warm... if you will be away for anything greater than 4-5 days, it becomes economical to turn down the heat.
 

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My garage is better insulated than the house...... but, there isn't a heater in it. I have found that regardless of outside temp, the garage still generally stays above freezing. So, no scraping windows in the morning before I can drive away. I suspect a lot of comes from the poorly insulated house. :D
 

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A constant 50-55 seems like a REALLY good starting point, at least for a full billing cycle so you know what it will cost.
I’ve had a wood furnace that heated the entire house (forced air) in the garage at our last home. The heat off the chimney and off the cabinet kept the garage over 60-65 through the coldest Michigan months. Down side was I couldn’t really control it. Warmer house=warmer garage, which wasn’t really all that bad I guess. A heated garage is NOT under rated! You’re going to love it. Especially if you keep your daily driver cars in there like we do.
Our new home we had built we just insulted both 2 sets of attached 2 stalls, still with room for improvement in the attic. Unfortunately I cheaped out a little on the North wall, which fortunately is the only exterior wall of the closet 2 stall position to the house. Should have crammed R15 in there not R13. I didn’t realize how good the 16x9.5 overhead doors were insulated. The poured concrete walls aren’t insulated at all, either. Some day…
Anyways, even without heat, the 2 stall closest to the house doesn’t often drop below 45, tending to rarely even drop below 50 for long, depending on how much we come & go. Parking warm cars in there and minimizing door open time helps A LOT. We did put an outlet by the ceiling and a tee in the gas line on the other side of the wall in the basement to maybe put a heater out there some day. Even the other 2 stalls don’t really drop below freezing. No wood heat in this house. Just shy of About 4K sq ft kept at constant 70 F costs a maximum of $76 per month in the coldest months over the 2 years we’ve lived there, so wood heat just doesn’t make sense for us. That’s what happens when you build a house with 2x6 walls containing $22k worth of 5” of spray foam and R60 blown glass ceiling. and no - no issues from high humidity. Actually we had to have a whole house humidifier added because we were stuck at 35% humidity leading to drywall issues (nail pops everywhere).
 

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Letting a garage get cold means it gets "cold soaked"... to the core of the building, walls, and your equipment. Your heat is being "soaked up" by the frozen materials and objects, as it warms the room.

I'd think it better to set the thermostat at 55 degrees so that when you want to warm it up, it will not have to rise from below freezing core temps, to whatever temp you work at.

Once up to 55, all the furnace has to do is maintain it. Otherwise it is a real steep uphill temp rise each time you come out to work. And when you leave, it might not call for heat for many hours as it gradually cools back to 55.

Just some random thoughts on this subject.
 

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I am going to find out.
I wired an analog clock to my natural gas hanging heater. The clock only runs when the furnace is running. I have the thermostat set at 71. I will let it run this way for 24 hours. I will check the clock tomorrow at 1 PM .
Tomorrow night, I will turn the heat down to 45 for the evening, turn it back up to 71 when I come out to the garage. At 1 PM Friday, I'll check the clock for hours ran
. We shall see.
My garage is a bit unique. It has a concrete floor, yet has a full walk out basement. The way my land lies, I had to pour footings and walls to set my garage at the same level as my house. Yeah it cost a bit more for the pre-stressed concrete floor, but not as much as another 24 X 26 garage, which is what I have. My point in explaining this is, my floor is not insulated by dirt, or anything else. The bottom side is open to the basement, which is not heated at all, and yes it gets COLD 1

I should probably also explain further. The clock is wired in parallel to the induction fan. The induction fan starts shortly before the burner is fired, and stops when the burner goes out.
 
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You have gotten a lot of good information/opinions about the right thing to do.

Thermodynamics says that heat loss from a higher temperature is ALWAYS going to be more than from a lower temperature. This is why people say to set back the thermostat at night. But, the savings is not as great as you might imagine. Because in the morning, the heater has to bring up the temperature all at once. This can take a long time depending on the size of the heater and heat that was lost.

I have a heated floor in the bathroom. It has a 1KW rating. I have a night setback for it and I can see how long it takes to bring the floor up to temperature. The night setback period is about 6 hours. Without the setback, it would run the heater about 3 hours, so I save that with the setback. But, in the morning it takes about an hour to heat the floor back up. So, the savings is about 2 hours of use. That is about 25 cents a day. I have been thinking about a more sophisticated control system that would not heat the floor during parts of the day when it isn't really necessary. But, this is more complicated to implement and the savings are not great enough for it to get to the top of the list of things to do.

I would keep the temp at 45 to 55 and see how much it costs. Keeping things at a stable temperature is much better for their life. You have to balance that with the cost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Congrats on the new shop! I’m in Mass and I keep mine at 55, and there’s a thread on Garage Journal,( a different forum), about this subject and a lot of guys keep it about the same. My thought is that it’s just warm enough to avoid radiant cooling from any metal in the shop and keeps condensation from forming. If the shop is well insulated, I would try keeping the heat on and see how it goes.
Thanks! It's well insulated. I'm keeping it on an will monitor the usage. Gas is on one line, house and garage/shop. Electric is on two separate meters. One address/two meters=shop is charged commercial rates.

I'll run it a month and see what the increased cost is.

My biggest concern is to make sure that the tractor mounted snowblower chute is free t he next time that I need to use it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yes, the heated garage is really nice. It's actually just my shop/two stall garage. There is an adjacent two stall that houses the wife's car. There is still a ton of stuff to unpack in the space that hopefully the truck will enjoy.

We both smoke, but don't smoke in the house. An agreement we made 21 years ago. So, the "shop" is visited a few times daily. Also, one corner is partitioned off for the previous owner's office. That will become my photographic darkroom, sans running water.

The lawn tractor(s) will be housed in the shop. One is equipped with a snowblower, so the heat will be great to melt the accumulated snow after the "snow ritual." In the previous residence, I had to resort to a kerosene torpedo heater that really stunk up the place.

I currently have the thermostat set at 50-55, takes the chill off and hopefully doesn't run up the gas bill too greatly. The previous owner ran his business out of there, so had a separate meter. That means that electricity is billed at a commercial rate. The power company didn't care that there wasn't a business anymore, said something along the lines that if there are two meters at one address, the second is billed commercial.
 
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