All About Energy Efficient Doors: Increase Your Efficiency, Save More Money

Find yourself spending too much on your energy bill each month? front door with covered porch and walkway leading to energy efficient front door

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Finding yourself spending too much on your energy bill each month? Your home’s front door could be aiding and abetting that. If you have an older house, or just your front door is old, it could be significantly leaking air.

Each month you are wasting energy due to poor insulation, the door not being correctly installed, or isn’t correctly sealed. Whichever is the case, now might be a good time to look into getting energy efficient doors. Because replacing old doors is also a great investment.

They result in lower heating and cooling costs each month, and those savings add up. Looking to build a new home? Consider buying the most energy efficient doors as possible. Selecting energy-efficient doors is important.

Types of Energy Efficient Doors

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Doors make up only a small portion of how you lose energy in the home. There are going to be circumstances that lead to air leakage requiring remedy such as weatherstripping. But what type of energy efficient doors are there to pick from?

Exterior Doors

One of the most important things to do with exterior doors is weatherstripping. By adequately weatherstripping your front doors, you reduce the cost of your energy bills. The most common type of exterior doors used today has a steel “skin” made from polyurethane foam insulation core. This will include a magnetic strip of weatherstripping. If you, or contractor, install it correctly, these type of exterior doors will not need weatherstripping again.

Another component to exterior doors is the type of glass used. Energy Star, a government company that tries to help their customers save money, suggests having an exterior door with Therma-Tru glass. It is an energy efficient, triple-pane to reduce heat and air flow, yet also gives beauty and privacy to customers. Not only can your exterior doors bring class to your home, but they can also save you money in the long run.

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors are notorious for losing heat more than any other door in the home. The biggest reason being that the glass is poorly insulated. You want to look for sliding doors that have several layers of glass. These layers should have low-emissivity coatings or low-conductivity gases between their panes. This will make your sliding glass door a great investment. This is true especially if you live in, or near, extreme climates.

However, it is impossible to stop all air leaks from your sliding door. The weatherstripping eventually wears down over the years. But there is good news. You can replace the weatherstripping on your sliding door only if your manufacturer has made it possible to do so.

Storm Doors

What is a storm door exactly? The storm door is a second, outer door most commonly used for protection against bad weather. It resembles a screen door (some use the terms interchangeably) but it is heavier duty than that. It also allows you to open the front door for ventilation during fair weather. They are made with three layers; a front and back layer that make up the exterior of the skin, and the interior insulation layer.

Most high-quality storm doors come with low-emissivity glass or glazing. Some will come with removable glass panel to take out during the summer months, replaced with a screen to allow ventilation. You will also find others that are half glass and half screen, and some who have sliding screened windows. On a critical note, don’t add a glass storm door if your front door receives more than a few hours of direct sunlight. This will cause the glass to trap heat and eventually warp or damage the glass. According to Green Building Advisor:

Storm doors will never save enough energy to justify their purchase price. A storm door is not cost-effective.

RValue of Energy Efficient Doors – Is It Important?

Ever come across a term while looking at energy efficient doors and just go, “Huh?” R-Value, what is it? Basically, it measures heat flow through your entry doors. When you have a high R-value, the heat flow will be lower. This makes for a more energy efficient door. The lower the R-value, the more energy you will lose. Solid wood doors have an R-value of R-2 or R-3, while an Energy Star door without a glass lite has an R-value of just R-5.8. So, is R-value important when choosing energy efficient doors? Generally, no. With that being said, you probably shouldn’t obsess over R-value too much. Heat loss through two or three exterior doors is just a small representation of energy being used. Having a high R-value won’t translate into bigger savings on your energy bill.

Air Leakage

Air leakage around your entry door is more of a concern than the R-value of the door. You want a good quality weatherstripping. Exterior doors made in Europe have better quality weatherstripping than those here in the United States. If you’re looking for European exterior doors here in the US, look for ones made by Intus and Drewexim.

Weatherstripping will wear out over time, no matter the brand of the door. The older the strip, the more air leakage there will be. To have more energy efficient doors, the weatherstripping should be inspected once a year. See signs of wear? Go to your local hardware store to see if they sell weatherstripping kits.

Sliding or Hinged Doors?

After realizing air leakage is the cause of your energy loses, it’s time to determine if you should have a sliding door or a hinged door. Hinged doors are preferable to those of sliding glass doors. A sliding glass door is going to leak air more than a hinged one. Looking for entry doors with large panes of glass? Try French doors instead of sliders.

It is true that some sliding glass doors will have better weatherstripping than others. However, if your heart is still set on a sliding glass door, search for a style of “lift-and-slide” door. This category of door isn’t as leaky as standard sliding glass doors.

How Energy Efficient is Your Door?

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We’ve talked about different ways to make your door more energy efficient. But how energy efficient is your door?

Here are some things you can do to test your door:

  • Hold a candle to your door. With a lit candle, carefully follow the outline of the exterior door around its frame on a windy day. If you see the candle flicker at every point where air is passing through the opening, your door might need to be replaced.
  • Look for the light. Stand in front of your door on a bright day. If light is coming in, so is external air. Your weatherstripping may have lost compression, or you may have a warped door or frame.
  • Take the touch test. Touch your exterior door on hot days and cold days. If you feel the exterior temperatures on the inside surface, your door may not have adequate insulation.
  • Watch the weatherstripping. Low-quality weatherstripping can lose its compression over time, opening the exterior door to air infiltration. Look for flat or cracked weatherstripping that is no longer doing its job.

These are just a few tests to check for air leakage. By taking care of the leaking air, you are creating a more energy efficient door. Whether it is your entry door or sliding glass door, air leakage can become a problem.

If you’re building a new home, or remodeling, having energy efficient doors saves on bills. Look for exterior doors that can help make the home look beautiful and be energy efficient. Check up on your weatherstripping once a year. If you find your doors are leaky, do a couple of tests to check for air leakage. Whichever type of entry door you decide to choose, being energy efficient is not only good for your bills, it’s good for the environment. Does your entry doors need to be replaced today?

Featured Image: CC by 0, by cocparisienne, via Pixabay

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