You have a couple of old doors in your house. While you’ve been meaning to fix them forever now, the project just keeps falling to the back of your to-do list.
Part of the reason may be that you wonder if sealing the doors with weatherstripping is enough to impact your energy usage or if you are better off replacing the doors.
Ahead, we’ll examine your energy savings by weatherstripping your doors, discuss your weatherstripping options, and help you decide when it may finally be time to upgrade your doors.
So let’s dive in!
How Much Energy Can You Save by Sealing Doors with Weatherstripping?
Sealing doors with weatherstripping can make the doors more energy-efficient, reducing your energy usage between five and ten percent per year. However, purchasing a new Energy Star door can save even more energy, possibly up to 20% annually.
Weatherstripping is a type of sealant that covers openings around more than doors and windows. You can choose from all kinds of weatherstripping options, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
For now, let’s talk about energy savings.
You know you’re losing a significant amount of energy with your old, drafty doors. Hot air blows in during summer, and cold air enters in the winter. The cooled and heated air through your HVAC system doesn’t stay in the house long enough, either.
Plugging those gaps will reduce your energy bills, although by how much varies. We’ve seen some very generous estimates, but we’re going to go more conservative, so you don’t hitch all your eco-friendly hopes to this process.
Expect to cut down on your annual energy bill spending by at least five percent. But, if you have several drafty doors throughout the house and repair them all with weatherstripping, you might save 7.5-10% on your annual energy bill.
Of course, this figure assumes that you’re weatherstripping more than only the doors but the windows as well. After all, if your doors are old and drafty, then there’s reason to assume that the same is true of your home’s windows.
By weatherstripping only the doors and not the windows, you’d still lose air and thus erase any potential savings on your energy bill. So it would be best if you had weatherstripped both.
Types of Weatherstripping to Consider
You have many options regarding the type of weatherstripping you’ll use for your home.
Per Energy Star, the most recommended types include:
Interlocking Metal Channels
A series of interlocking metal channels only work for door perimeters, not windows. When the tracks are closed, they can more easily engage with one another.
However, that’s entirely dependent on proper installation. The interlocking metal channels will not work correctly if anything is even a little out of alignment during installation.
This type is a costly option, but the weather-sealing that interlocking metal channels provide makes it worth it.
A fin seal or fold-over seam features weatherstripping piles and Mylar fins covered in plastic. They are only recommended for sliding glass doors or aluminum siding windows. The durability is excellent, but the ease of installation is low.
Frost Bake Threshold
Frost bake thresholds are recommended for under-door sealing. This weatherstripping consists of a type of exterior metal. It’s usually aluminum but not exclusively. Then there’s a door-bottom seam with a vinyl threshold replacement.
The combination of materials prevents the cold transfer from readily occurring. As a result, you should see a noticeable difference in the comfort levels of your home during both the summer and the winter.
Unfortunately, installing a frost bake threshold is challenging since you need to replace the thresholds.
Another threshold-based type is a bulb threshold. These door thresholds, made of a rugged blend of aluminum and vinyl, are considered a combination threshold. You can select the height of a bulb threshold to suit your home.
This weatherstripping offers a high degree of weather protection, but it’s costly. On top of that, foot traffic will inevitably wear down a bulb threshold, necessitating a replacement.
A door shoe goes underneath your door or window and features an insert shaped like a C. The vinyl insert is protective. There’s also a face attachment made of sturdy aluminum.
You might have to get underneath your door planed to make a door shoe work. But, even if you don’t, its installation is considered rather difficult and costly.
Reinforced Silicone Weatherstripping
For window stops and doorjambs, consider reinforced silicone stripping. This form consists of a tubular gasket and a metal strip. The gasket and strip connect to create what looks like tubular vinyl.
The sealing capabilities of reinforced silicone are excellent, but only professionals must attempt installation. The corners can otherwise butt out, which makes using your door a challenge.
Tubular Vinyl and Rubber Weatherstripping
Another great form of door weatherstripping is tubular vinyl and rubber.
This variety features a flange and rubber tubes made of sponge or vinyl. The flange gets tacked or stapled around the door or the window. When the door or window closes, the pressure makes a seal that works as an ultra-efficient air barrier.
For easier installation, you can always consider magnetic weatherstripping. This form is usable for sliding window channels, double-hung windows, and the sides and tops of your door.
A more common form of stripping is the door sweep, which can block any air gaps between the threshold and the bottom of your door or window. Most door sweeps are made of stainless steel or aluminum and feature a felt, sponge, vinyl, or plastic brush.
Usable on exterior swinging doors and in-swinging interior doors, door sweeps are considered simple to install, even if your threshold isn’t quite even.
If you have carpeting, you can opt for an automatically retracting door sweep to prevent drag when you open the door.
That said, you can see door sweeps quite effortlessly, which detracts from the look of your door.
Reinforced or Rolled Vinyl Weatherstripping
The next type of weatherstripping is reinforced or rolled vinyl.
This form consists of a strip gasket that’s either rigid or flexible. The gasket connects to metal or wood strips and is usable underneath a door, underneath a window sash, at the top of a window sash, or for window or door stops.
While reinforced or rolled vinyl weatherstripping is easy to install and relatively low-cost, it only offers a decent amount of energy efficiency. On top of that, you can easily see it.
Tape has become a popular weatherstripping material; thus, you have many types to choose from. Your options include rubber, ethylene propylene diene monomer or EPDM, open-cell foam, closed-cell foam, or nonporous tape.
If you have any types of irregular-looking cracks or unique corners that need weatherstripping, tape is an excellent option to use.
It’s also suitable for door frames, window sashes, and attic frames. Inexpensive, easy to install, and DIY-friendly, some types of tape are more durable for weatherstripping than others.
Reinforced closed-cell foam connected to metal or wood strips is a simple form of weatherstripping, but it works well underneath doors, at the tops or bottoms of the window sash, or for the door stop.
Rigid, wind-resistant, and excellent at sealing, reinforced foam is a wise choice for weatherstripping but does have some downsides.
For one, it’s easy to see. In addition, it’s harder to install than you might think and producing reinforced foam weatherstripping isn’t the most eco-friendly process.
Felt weatherstripping uses a metal strip that may or may not be reinforced and then is attached to a felt sheet. Since this form of stripping is sold in rolls, you must tack, glue, or staple it into place, such as under a door jamb.
Of all the options we’ve discussed, felt is probably the weakest at entrapping air in the home. It’s lacking in the durability department as well.
The last form of weatherstripping to consider is a tension seal.
This form is comprised of a self-stick vinyl or plastic portion that’s folded into a V and features a strip made of stainless steel, aluminum, copper, or bronze.
The strip is designed to connect any gaps in the tension seal so that when you use it, it pushes against a crack and stops the air from leaving your home.
Unfortunately, you must use a tension seal on flat surfaces only, and installing this form of weatherstripping can be challenging.
Can Energy Star Doors Save More Energy?
Even with the myriad of weatherstripping options at your disposal, between the expense, time, and difficulty of installation, you might opt instead to simply upgrade your old doors to Energy Star-approved doors.
This option is wise, as using an Energy Star product like a door could reduce your energy bill spending between 15-20% per year.
Energy Star doors are more energy-efficient by design. They feature double or triple-paned glass for excellent insulation, tighter frames with magnetic weatherstripping that make an airtight seal, and core materials such as polyurethane foam with steel, wood cladding, and fiberglass exteriors.
Do you want to save money on your energy bills? Weatherstripping both your doors and your windows is certainly one way to do it, but this is putting a Band-Aid over an issue that needs more extensive care and attention.
Rather than spend time and money hiring a professional weatherstripping installer, you should consider upgrading your doors to an Energy Star-approved model if they’re more than 40 years old.