Your exterior doors are the focal point of your home. Unfortunately, they’re also a gateway for energy loss. It’s estimated that as much as 11% of your home’s energy escapes through them. But sometimes it takes a little more than shutting the front door to make a difference.Sure, that’s a great start, but if you want to lower utility costs, there are a few other things you can try. Ideally, you will see the most change by employing a combination of the following energy-saving tips.
No matter what material your door is constructed of—whether it’s wood, fiberglass, or steel, if there are gaps around the frame, you are throwing money out the window (or in this case, the door). One of the main reasons gaps occur is because the door is either not aligned properly due to shifting over time or improper hanging at installation. But if neither is the case, the spaces around the door can be filled with silicone caulking if they are less than ¼ inch wide. Wider than this will require a backer rod to cushion and insulate. Just an FYI: caulking is for use on non-moving parts. Mainly, just the doorframe and wall. Also, be sure to remove old caulking before applying new to get the best outcome.
Weatherstripping usually consists of foam, rubber,felt, or vinyland is used to seal the spaces between the doorframe and the door.Because it’s adhesive and compressible, weatherstripping offers a nice tight seal when the door is closed, and this prevents air from escaping or entering. Note: Brass stripping is also an option. Though not weatherized or adhering (and often more costly), many prefer it because it’s aesthetically pleasing, especially in regard to older homes.
Door sweeps are another form of weatherstripping and are used to seal the gap under the door. They lower heating and cooling costs but also help to keep out moisture, dust, and insects.Some even have drip caps that block rainwater and snow. There are basically two types of door sweeps, both of which are easy to install:
- U-shaped sweeps fastened to the underside of aluminum or steel doors
- Metal strips that are nailed or screwed to door bottom
Close the shade
Sure you want to let the sunshine in. But by lifting the shade on your door or door window, you are also letting the heat or AC out.If you have a shade (or curtain), it’s best to keep it drawn during the hottest and coldest months. You might even want to invest in a thermal-backed shade to provide a more extensive barricade against the elements.A minor adjustment but worthy of consideration.
Install storm doors
There is some controversy about whether or not storm doors actually conserve energy. One reason is because these doors are often added as a barrier without first caulking and weather-stripping the main door. Another thing to consider with storm doors is that not all of them have a thermal lining or double-paned glass to help eliminate drafts as well as keep heat and air from escaping. The most logical way they can save money though is if they have a screen insert. This would lower AC costs because you wouldn’t need it as much when the weather is favorable enough to let in some fresh air. And though the savings are minimal with storm doors, they would be beneficial to main doors that have glass panes and transoms, especially in colder climates. The reason for this is simply because it constitutes an extra layer or layers of glass.
Replace old doors with energy-efficient doors
If your exterior door continues to be a source of energy loss, you may want to replace it. Many wood and fiberglass doors today are equipped with insulation at purchase, which is a huge bonus. However, glass-paneled doors or those with transoms are typically less energy efficient because glass conducts heat. (This is why adding a storm door can be advantageous.) More expensive glass doors often have built-in plastic insulators or low-emissivity coatings and can reduce energy loss up to 50 percent. So, even though they are more costly upfront, you will save money and energy long term.
Keep in mind that environmental factors play a big part in door selection. For example, wood can warp and rot in extreme temperatures if not cared for properly. And something else to note is that though installing a door sounds fairly intuitive, it can be more daunting than you realize. Think seriously about hiring a professional. A door not properly aligned with the frame will cause gaps, and you will be back right where you started.
A door to your home should be inviting towards family and friends not energy loss. While welcoming company this holiday season, make sure the cold air doesn’t also get invited inside.
Tal Hassid, founder of ETO Doors, is a home decor and door design expert in the industry for 15 years.
ETO Doors, one of the largest online marketplaces for doors, carries solid wood and fiberglass doors
including Interior, Exterior, and French doors.