Whether you have owned your house for many years or you are building a new home, one of the most important investments that you will make in your house is an energy efficient entrance door. Nowadays, with our extreme weather conditions and skyrocketing energy bills, investing not only in energy-efficient appliances, but also in energy efficient windows and doors can be a wise decision that will allow you to significantly cut your energy costs. When it comes to choosing the perfect doors for your entrance, energy efficiency should be one of the major criteria alongside style, design, durability and affordability. Proper insulation is important not only in winter to prevent heat loss, but also in summer so that your cooling device works more efficiently. Air leakage and poor insulation will make your efforts to heat/cool your house less effective.
There are different ways to determine how efficient a door is energy-wise. One of such ways is to look for ENERGY STAR® certification that can be applied not only to air-conditioners, refrigerators or other household appliances, but also windows and doors. ENERGY STAR® certification is based mainly on U-factor (or U-value). U-factor is the thermal transmittance of heat flow (the ability of the material to transfer heat). The lower U-factor a door has, the more energy-efficient it will be. Another indicator of energy-efficiency is the R-value. R-value is the thermal resistance to heat flow. Unlike the U-factor, a higher R-value indicates a greater insulating value. The level of insulation or R-value that you’ll need will greatly depend on the climate and your heating/cooling system. Therefore, before making a decision, it might be necessary to use an insulation calculator or consult with an insulation advisor.
Learning more about the differences between various materials used in door manufacturing, as well as the level of energy efficiency each of them offers will also help you make an informed decision. This article is aimed to help you understand these differences and choose the perfect door that will not only please your eyes every time you get back home, but will also make you feel comfortable when you are at home, offering the level of safety you need and the proper insulation to keep you warm or cool depending on the weather.
Before proceeding to information on energy efficiency of various types of materials, it is important to note that door framing and its proper installation is as important as choosing the right door. Air leakage around the door is quite common and heat loss can occur even more through improperly made/installed frames with air leaks than through the door itself. Thus, it is highly advisable that you buy your doors at a reputable store, as well as use professional door installation services to get the job done for you, unless you are an experienced carpenter yourself. If you are planning to save on your doors, then it is more desirable that you buy less expensive doors (that would still offer the same level of security and energy-efficiency), but use professional services to install them.
Today, in the door manufacturing industry the main materials used for entrance doors are steel, fiberglass and wood with the first two being the most popular. They differ not only in price and durability, but also in energy-efficiency.
Steel Door Energy Efficiency
When it comes to energy-efficiency, steel doors will do the job, provided they are installed properly. This is the case, when proper installation is more important than the material itself for enjoying the full benefits of the right choice for an entrance door. Steel doors usually have a polyurethane insulation core sandwiched between steel panels. This type of insulation makes them very energy-efficient. If installed properly, this type of doors will require no further weatherstripping. They are usually less expensive than other types of doors, so this might be a good choice for those homeowners that plan to save on doors, but are still looking for an energy-efficient option. Solid steel doors will offer more insulation than those with glass panels/windows. A steel door without a window may offer up to five times more insulation that a wood door. However, even doors with glass panels may offer excellent insulation and qualify for ENERGY STAR® certification if they come with double or triple panels to reduce heat transfer. Picking an ENERGY STAR® certified steel door with HCFC-free polyurethane insulation will not be only a budget-friendly, but also an environmentally-friendly choice.
Fiberglass Door Energy Efficiency
Fiberglass doors have evolved significantly since they first emerged in the market, thus their energy-efficiency has increased along with quality and durability. Quality is of huge importance in fiberglass doors, so if you have chosen fiberglass over other materials, make sure it is of high quality before you discuss its insulating value.
Fiberglass doors have polyurethane insulation core similar to that of steel doors. They provide five times more insulating value compared to natural wood, However, they are very versatile in terms of style and design and can be finished with real wood grain to resemble real wood if you like the look of natural wood doors. Fiberglass can withstand extreme weather conditions – a feature that is most valuable in regions where such weather conditions (extreme cold or extreme hot temperatures) are common. Overall, fiberglass doors have the best insulating value, while requiring low if any maintenance compared to other types of doors.
No matter which material you choose for your doors, keep in mind that proper installation of your doors is a vital part of keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer, as well as your wallet happy.