A teal energy-efficient door in the entryway of a home

There are many things to think about when building or renovating a home. Yet one thing you might not consider much is your door. 

Believe it or not, your door can significantly impact your home’s energy efficiency.

This post will cover the pros and cons of energy-efficient doors to help determine whether they are worth it for your home. We’ll also explain how to select the best energy-efficient door for you and test if your current door is energy-efficient. 

So, let’s get cookin’!

What Are Energy-Efficient (Energy Star) Doors?

Energy Star-efficient doors are independently-certified to meet specific EPA energy guidelines. As a result, they can be worth the investment for any homeowner, especially if you want to save money on energy bills or improve your home’s value. Energy-efficient doors are also more eco-friendly.

How Doors Earn an Energy Star Rating

The Energy Star program is a certification program that identifies energy-efficient products and practices for consumers. 

A product or procedure must meet specific energy-efficiency requirements set by the EPA to earn an Energy Star rating. 

The three basic requirements include:

  • Using less energy than similar products or practices.
  • Better performance than similar products or techniques.
  • Meeting specific standards for emission reductions.

Notably, using Energy Star products, such as energy-efficient doors, can help save money and protect the environment. 

Why Energy Star-Efficient Doors Are Worth It

Regarding home energy efficiency, there are many things to consider, and doors might seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of things. Yet, the truth is that your door can significantly impact your home’s energy efficiency and reduce your heating costs.

A homeowner removing her key as she enters her front door

And while there may be a higher upfront cost, the long-term savings and benefits make energy-efficient doors worth the investment.

Energy-efficient doors provide many benefits, including:

  • Preventing heat loss in your home
  • Helping you save money on your energy bills
  • Reducing your carbon footprint
  • Raising your property value

And these are only a few of the advantages!

Still, there is much to consider before investing in energy-efficient doors. Let’s weigh out the pros and cons to determine if this is a suitable investment for you.

Advantages of Energy-Efficient Doors

Energy Star-certified efficient doors provide numerous benefits for your home, wallet, and the environment. Whether you want to be more eco-friendly or cost-conscious or make improvements to your home, energy-efficient doors are an excellent investment. 

Some of the many advantages of investing in energy-efficient doors include:

Reduced Overhead Heating Costs

When it comes to conserving energy in your home, every little bit counts. That’s why many homeowners opt for energy-efficient doors that can help lower their monthly heating costs. 

Energy Star doors are designed to meet strict guidelines set by the EPA, meaning they’re significantly more efficient than traditional doors and help to put money back in your pocket each month.

Reduced Carbon Footprint

One of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to install energy-efficient doors in your home or office. Choosing doors designed to minimize heat loss can reduce your energy usage and lower your carbon emissions.

Improved Home Comfortability

One of the most important benefits of an Energy Star door is that it improves comfort. An energy-efficient door helps keep the temperature in your home consistent, making it easier to heat and cool your home, making it more comfortable to live in.

A couple of homeowners enjoying each other's company on the couch with a mini-split air handler prominently shown on the wall behind them

Protection Against Harmful UV Radiation

Another benefit of an energy-efficient door is that it protects your valuables from harmful ultraviolet light. UV radiation can cause skin cancer, eye damage, and other health problems. The glass used in these doors filters out most of the UV rays. 

Not only does this help to keep your belongings looking new, but it also prevents them from being damaged by the sun. 

Condensation Prevention

When the temperature outside changes, the air inside your home can become saturated with moisture, leading to condensation on windows and doors. An energy-efficient door will prevent this by regulating the temperature inside your home.

Reduced Noise

Another benefit of an energy-efficient door is that it can help to reduce noise pollution. If you live in a busy area, an energy-efficient door can help to block out some of the noise from outside. This quality is especially helpful for people that live in urban areas and around airports, railroads, or other noisy places. 

Increased Property Value 

Increasing property value is one of the most significant benefits of energy-efficient doors. By insulating your home, you are essentially making your home more valuable. All these factors together make energy-efficient doors a wise investment for any homeowner.

Drawbacks of Energy Star Efficient Doors

Despite all the benefits, energy-efficient doors aren’t a practical investment for everyone quite yet. In particular, the high costs are a common deterrent. 

Some additional drawbacks of energy-efficient doors include:

Energy-Efficient Doors Require Changing All Your Doors

When you’re looking to change to energy-efficient doors, you must replace all your doors, which can be costly. On top of that, the return on investment isn’t always great. 

A technician placing an energy-efficient door in an opening during installation

While you may save on your energy bill, the upfront cost of replacing all your doors can be pricey, and it may take several years to see any real return on your investment.

Expensive Initial Investment

Energy-efficient doors come with a high price tag, costing up to three times as much as a traditional door. So, you’ll need to determine if the savings reflected in your energy bill soon outweigh the costs of the doors. 

For instance, you may find that energy-efficient doors offer only a minor improvement in energy efficiency, and the savings will be too insignificant for you to see a return on investment any time soon.

They May Not Be Aesthetically Pleasing

Energy-efficient doors are not always attractive. Some energy-efficient doors have foam insulation, making them look bulky, unappealing, and difficult to install. If you’re not handy, you may need to hire a professional to install your new doors, which can add to the overall cost.

Closeup on the exterior side of a boring-looking white front door

What Makes a Door Energy Star-Efficient?

Several requirements must be met for a door to be considered Energy Star-efficient. Let’s take a closer look at each factor needed to earn the Energy Star label. 

U-Factor and R-Factor

The amount of heat that escapes from your door is known as the U-factor. A higher U-factor indicates poor insulation efficiency, whereas a lower U-factor indicates good insulation efficiency. 

In other words, doors with a low U-Factor will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer—a door earns the Energy Star label if it has a U-factor of .30 or less.

R-factor is a measure of a door’s ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-factor, the better the door keeps the heat in or out. An energy-efficient door will have a high R-factor range of R5 to R6.

The higher the value, the better it will help keep your home at a comfortable temperature. In addition to an R-factor, energy-efficient doors will also have other features that help them save energy, like weatherstripping and tight seals.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is a number that represents how well a door prevents heat from entering your home. The lower the SHGC, the better the door keeps your home cool in the summer. A good SHGC for a door set (the door and frame together) is 0.30 or below.

Energy Star Certification

The Energy Star Certification is a federally funded program that recognizes energy-efficient products for businesses and consumers to use to help them save money and protect the environment. 

The organization must independently verify doors to meet strict energy efficiency criteria determined by the EPA to earn the Energy Star label.

Doors with this label can help you save money on energy bills and make your home more comfortable by reducing drafts. In addition, by choosing Energy Star-certified doors, you are supporting products built by companies prioritizing quality and user interest. 

An illustrated diagram showing the anatomy of an Energy-Efficient Door
Courtesy of Energy Star

Doors are one of the many products that can earn the Energy Star label. Energy-efficient doors can help businesses save money on energy costs, and they also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

In addition, Energy Star-certified doors are often made with recycled materials, which helps reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing process.

Quality Materials

One of the most critical factors in a door’s energy efficiency is the quality of its materials. A door with poor-quality materials will be less effective at keeping out the cold or heat and more likely to leak air, costing you money.

An easy way to determine the quality of a door’s materials is to look for the Energy Star label.

To earn the certification, doors must be made with high-quality, insulated glass panels and weatherstripping. The best materials include vinyl, metal, and fiberglass. 

Illustration depicting the energy efficiency scale of different exterior door materials
Courtesy of Constellation

Frame Material

The type of material used to frame a door can significantly impact the door’s energy efficiency. Metal door frames are a good choice for energy efficiency because they conduct heat well and are durable. 

Wood door frames are also a good choice for energy efficiency, as they are good insulators and can be made to fit snugly against the door.

Magnetic Strips

An essential feature of an energy-efficient door is that it should be well-sealed, as it will prevent heat from escaping in the winter and cool air from escaping in the summer. To seal a door properly, you need a good seal around the door’s perimeter, where magnetic strips come into play. 

Selecting The Best Energy-Efficient Doors

There are many factors to consider when selecting energy-efficient doors for your home. The most crucial is the R-value. The higher the R-value, the better the door prevents heat loss. 

Another vital factor to consider is the door’s U-value. The lower the U-value, the better the door insulates your home.

Other factors to consider include:

  • Type of material
  • Size of the door
  • Type of insulation

You’ll also want to consider the climate in your area, as this will impact the amount of heat loss you’ll experience.

How To Test Your Current Door’s Energy Efficiency

You can test if your current door is energy-efficient or not with a few simple tests. 

The most basic test is to check for gaps or cracks around the door. If you see any, air can easily flow in and out, and your door is not energy-efficient. You can also check the seal around the door—heat can escape if it’s not tight enough.

Closeup on a homeowner's hand pointing out a crack in the top seam of the frame around his exterior door
Courtesy of Eden’s Structural Solutions

However, cracks and gaps can be so small that you don’t see them. Another simple test to determine this is placing your hand against the door. If you feel a draft, there is a small gap, and heat is escaping from your home. 

Finally, the paper test is another easy way to determine your door’s energy efficiency. You’ll need a piece of notebook or printer paper or something somewhat sturdy. 

Then, close all the doors and windows in your house. Next, lay the sheet of paper flat and, like inserting a bill into a vending machine, attempt to push it through the crack at the bottom of the door. If the paper easily pushes through, your door is not energy-efficient.

Of course, if you want a measured and detailed reading, you can always hire a professional to test the energy efficiency of your door. 

Conclusion

If energy-efficient doors are worth it depends on your situation. If you live in an area with high energy costs or want to make your home more eco-friendly, then investing in energy-efficient doors is a smart move. 

However, if reduced energy costs aren’t significant or don’t outweigh the initial investment quickly enough, you may not see the need to spend the extra money on these doors.

We hope this overview provided the insight you need to make the right decision for you. 

Best of luck!

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