Everyone is trying to save energy these days – either to protect the planet or just to keep our own energy bills low. Homeowners know that there are a lot of different ways that their homes can waste energy, and want to do something about it – and your wood front doors might be a great place to start.
Modern custom doors have a lot of options that improve their insulation, compared to doors in the past. This is particularly true for French doors and other door types which have large windows. So, we wanted to take a minute to talk about how doors contribute to your home’s energy efficiency, and how upgrades can potentially lower your energy bills.
The Problem with Doors
Doors are inherently bad for home insulation because they will always be less insulated than the walls surrounding them. Plus, of course, they’re frequently opened and closed – allowing a lot of internal air to escape every time. Their installation is also a factor here. Poorly installed doors typically have leaks around the frame, which allow more air to escape.
Insulation is typically described with an “R-value,” which is the measure of a material’s thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the better it insulates – and the better it is at keeping your energy bills low. All things being equal, you want a door with the highest possible R-value.
Modern custom doors can be made with wood, fiberglass, and steel. Steel has the highest R-value, but it’s also typically the least attractive option. Most homeowners prefer custom wood front doors, even if they need to be a bit thicker to achieve the same level of insulation.
You’ll also want to consider the door type. Swinging doors, including French doors, offer better seals than sliding doors. Sliding doors will also tend to be more affected by the weather, and see their seals break down more quickly.
Reducing Energy Loss from Windows
Windows are even worse than doors at holding onto heat, so you should be thinking about energy efficiency when your doors have windows in them. The bigger the windows, the worse they will be at insulating. French doors, for example, are absolutely beautiful – but you will pay a bit more because of all the heat they let in.
However, the good news is that energy-efficient window designs have become far more common in recent years. Rather than using a single pane of glass, as was popular in the 20th century, these new designs utilize two or three panes stacked near to each other. In between, there’s a small amount of inert gas, such as argon. This gas is denser than air and helps provide more insulation than the glass alone.
A well-designed triple-pane window on a door can have an R-value of 5, which is nearly as high as the door itself. This will cost a bit more to purchase but will absolutely pay off over time with greatly improved energy efficiency.
Oh, and to be clear: the gases used inside these windows are completely harmless to people and pets, even if the window breaks.
The Importance of Proper Installation
If you’re upgrading to better wood front doors or improved energy-efficient windows, it’s vital to make sure they’re properly installed so you get the most insulation possible.
There are two components to this. First, the framework must be properly designed to be a tight fit with both the door and the surrounding wall, leaving as few gaps as possible. This is why you should always hire a highly qualified door company to handle installation. Few amateurs can do work as good as the pros, and that higher quality work will save you money on your electric bill every month.
It’s also important to think about weatherstripping, which is the material that fills in any gaps in the framework and ensures everything comes together snugly. Avoid cheap options here, such as felt or open-cell foam. They’re inexpensive but tend to be vulnerable to water damage as well as damage from other weather types. This causes them to quickly break down and cause leaks.
Vinyl is a good alternative weatherstripping material, which is only a bit more expensive than felt or foam. You may also want to consider metal weatherstripping, such as copper or aluminum, which is both the longest-lasting and the most energy-efficient. It can even add a classy touch to a custom wood door!
Door Masters Offers Numerous Energy-Efficient Options
If you’re thinking it’s time to put a new wood front door on your Ontario home, choose Door Masters! We’re a proudly family-owned business with over a decade’s experience creating amazing custom doors that fit any home’s look and feel. We’re happy to offer energy-efficient doors and windows, along with offering tips on how to keep your home insulated. Our workmanship is impeccable, and we give every project the utmost in attention to detail.
To see our work for yourself, come visit our showroom at the Improve Canada Mall in Vaughn, ON. Or contact us to discuss how we can create the perfect doors for your home.