Whether you're trying to meet a certain green building standard or just want your heating bills to stay manageable, it's important to put some careful thought into the entry doors you choose for your home. A poorly designed, inefficient door could cost you thousands of dollars in wasted energy over its lifetime -- not to mention, the environmental impact of this wasted resource! As you shop for entryway doors, here are four features that help ensure energy efficiency.
Glass is a terrible insulator. In other words, it lets a lot of the heat waves that hit it pass right through it. This is why homes with more windows are so much less efficient than those with fewer windows. If efficiency is your goal, then you are best off focusing on entry door designs that utilize minimal glass. Doors with just a small window or three small windows along the top, for instance, are a much better choice than full-glass doors framed in a little wood or vinyl.
Luckily, as door companies have become aware that customers value energy efficiency, they have begun to offer more minimal glass styles. So whether your home is more traditional or on the modern side when it comes to decor, you should have plenty of options to choose from without having to resort to a window-heavy design.
The glass that is embedded in your entryway door should be low-e glass. "Low-e" is a term that many buyers find confusing, but all that this means is that the glass lets less heat pass through it than normal glass would. Low-e glass is coated in a metallic compound that reflects heat waves -- especially those from the sun -- rather than allowing them to pass through the glass.
You may find some doors that are sold as single low-e and others sold as double low-e. Opt for the double low-e variety, as these are coated on both the inside and the outside. In the winter, the glass will reflect heat waves inward, keeping your home warmer. In the summer, it will reflect heat waves outward, keeping your home cooler. Single low-e glass only reflects heat in one direction -- usually outwards -- so it won't impact your efficiency in the winter months.
Effective Gaskets and Weatherstripping
The other way heat is going to travel through your door is between the door itself and the door frame. This heat transfer can be minimized with quality gaskets and weatherstripping. Make sure the door you purchase features thick, bendable weatherstripping along the bottom and top and that gaskets down the side allow it to fit tightly into the door frame. Beware of gaskets or weatherstripping that are too stiff. They may crack when exposed to temperature fluctuations, leading to air leaks.
Carefully consider the material your door is made from, and especially the material used in the door's core. Inexpensive vinyl and fiberglass doors sometimes have hollow cores, which is terrible for efficiency. Wooden doors, which almost always have solid cores, are an efficient choice. But if you like a more modern look, you can choose a vinyl or fiberglass entry door that has been filled with an insulating material, like spray foam.
While metal doors may seem like they'd be an inefficient choice since metal is a good conductor, this is not always the case. A metal door with an insulating spray foam core can actually have an R-value up to 11, which is higher than the R-value of a standard, solid wood door.
If you can find an entry door with the features above, your home should remain efficient and green.