The Ultimate Guide To Energy-Efficient Doors

Updated:  March 27, 2024

Your front door is a focal point for your home, creating a warm welcome for guests. However, if your door is not energy efficient, that warm welcome turns into wasted energy. Adding to the issue, poor insulation and failing seals allow cold air to enter your home.

Check out our ultimate guide to energy-efficient doors to help you understand their importance in your home’s comfort. 

Why Are Energy-Efficient Doors Important?

Why-Are-Energy-Efficient-Doors-Important - Person Reviewing A Detailed Energy Bill Next To A Window

Poorly insulated exterior doors can lead to substantial air leakage. However, the door itself is not the only issue. Even an energy-efficient door becomes less effective if it is improperly installed or sealed. As a result, you not only need an energy-efficient door, but also an experienced door installer to ensure you avoid energy losses due to faulty seals, poor installation, or damaged weatherstripping. 

What Makes A Door Energy Efficient?

Energy Star Logo Blue Transparent

The simple answer is: when it is an ENERGY STAR® door. However, there’s a lot to a door’s make-up that helps ensure it is energy efficient, including:

  • Material and Core: Steel or fiberglass doors with a polyurethane foam insulation core can offer up to five times the insulating value compared to a solid wood door.
  • Weatherstripping: A door with magnetic strip weatherstripping helps improve energy efficiency.
  • Door Lite: Doors with a window, known as a door lite, must have at least two layers of glass, low-emissivity coatings, and/or low-conductivity gases between the panes to be energy efficient. 

Can All Types Of Door Materials Be Energy Efficient?

Can-All-Types-Of-Door-Materials-Be-Energy-Efficient

Exterior doors are categorized by the door slab material. Different materials have different “R-values” which determine how well they prevent the flow of heat into and out of the home. The higher the value, the better the performance. Here is an overview of how different door materials perform:

Fiberglass or vinyl doors: R5-R7

These doors perform up to six times better than a solid wood door when they contain a rigid foam polyurethane insulated core. They are the most energy-efficient and lowest maintenance entry doors available. The skin is a poor conductor of heat, which helps keep the door’s temperatures stable while the core keeps hot and cold air at bay.

Steel or aluminum doors: R5-R6

Metal doors are highly rated but also conduct heat. If your home is south-facing, you might find you’ll experience more temperature transference in your home. You should also be cautious when choosing metal doors, ensuring they have the ENERGY STAR® symbol indicating they have the highest quality insulating core.

Wood doors: R2-R3

Many homeowners are surprised to learn that solid wood doors are the worst when it comes to heat absorption, allowing outside temperatures to enter your home. If you love the look of wood, consider a fiberglass faux wood option that can be stained to mimic the look of real wood. If you’re dead set on wood, choose the thickest possible door, as it will improve the door’s R-value. 

Is An All-Glass Door Energy Efficient?

Is-An-All-Glass-Door-Energy-Efficient

The size of sliding glass patio doors contributes to increased heat loss compared to other doors with insulators. Therefore, your sliders should have at least two layers of glass, low-emissivity coatings, and/or low-conductivity gases between the panes to be energy efficient. Always refer to National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) labels to find air leakage ratings. You should also opt for systems with one fixed panel as opposed to two operating panels, as they will have less air leakage.

For entry or garden doors, a full glass insert can also impact energy efficiency. In this case, it’s best to choose either a steel or fiberglass door with an energy-efficient insert, providing the same qualities mentioned above. 

How To Improve Energy Efficiency Of Doors

Every component of your door, including the frame, frame insulation, weatherstripping, and glass impacts energy efficiency. Therefore, it’s important to look for the highest insulating properties for each component to improve overall energy efficiency, including:

Door Lites

Door-Lites-Impact-Energy-Efficiency

If you choose a door with glass inserts, look for the following features to avoid diminishing energy efficiency:

  • Glass with a higher low-E (low-emissivity) coating to deflect heat and cold
  • Thicker glass
  • At least 2 or 3 panes with low conductive gases to inhibit heat transfer
  • Plastic thermal frame breaks for added insulation between the inner and outer parts of the door

Framing

Door-Frame-Materials-Affect-Energy-Efficiency

Metal, composite, and wood framing are a must to help strengthen your door slab. However, they can impact your door’s energy efficiency based on how they conduct and absorb temperatures. Vinyl framing is highly resistant to temperature change, making it the most energy-efficient.

Weatherstripping & Door Sweeps

Weatherstripping-And-Door-Sweeps-Improve-Energy-Efficiency - A Man Applying Weather Stripping To A Door Frame.

Weatherstripping and sweeps are required between gaps and pockets of the door to create a more secure seal between the frame and the door. The higher quality the seal material, the more airtight the seal is to help eliminate air leaks. As a result, you can maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature.

Installation

Hiring-Professional-To-Install-Doors-Will-Improve-Energy-Efficiency - Worker Installing A Wooden Door

Hiring an installer who follows the door manufacturer’s instructions ensures they follow best practices and use the same materials used in the testing environment. This ensures the door remains under warranty and maximizes energy efficiency. Important steps in the installation process include:

  • A square doorframe to ensure a tight connection for the door seals
  • Applying expanding foam caulking to fill gaps, seal the rough opening, and insulate the threshold
  • Checking the weatherstripping to ensure it makes a tight seal when the door is closed 

Can Existing Doors Be Made Energy Efficient?

Can-Existing-Doors-Be-Made-More-Energy-Efficient

In some cases, your door can be made more energy efficient with the following modifications if the door itself is still sound:

  • Replacing door lites with energy-efficient glass
  • Replacing weatherstripping
  • Ensuring the door is square
  • Replacing old seals and caulking
  • Removing the door trim to seal gaps

However, if your door has any of the following issues after you make your improvements, it’s time for a front door replacement:

  • Your door is difficult to open and close
  • When you hold a lighter up to the door and around its frame, the flame flickers
  • The inside of your door is very cold to the touch in the winter and hot in the summer
  • Your door or frame is warped
  • There is moisture between the glass insert or frost on the interior side of the window
  • The glass is single-pane 

What’s The ROI On Replacing Doors With Energy-Efficient Models?

High-Roi-When-Replacing-Doors-With-Energy-Efficient-Models.

There are a few ways to realize ROI on a new door replacement. First, energy-efficient front doors can reduce energy consumption by at least 5%, which can reduce your energy bills. If you have sliding glass doors, they reduce energy consumption even more, at as much as 55%. You can also see ROI in your home’s value. A new steel door sees an average of 100.9% ROI, while a full grand fiberglass entry will see a 50.4% return.

Armed with this information, you’re all set to start shopping for an energy-efficient door to keep your home comfortable year-round and reduce your energy bills.

For more information or to schedule a free quote with the Weaver team, click here.


Tags

energy efficient doors, energy efficient upgrade, entry doors, exterior doors, patio doors


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