Replacing doors can cut energy costs

Published On: Jun 28 2012 06:13:41 AM CDT   Updated On: Jun 28 2012 06:55:51 AM CDT

With the air conditioner running more and more this summer, many of us are looking for ways to save a few dollars. It can be as easy as replacing the doors in your house.

Angie Hicks, with the service referral website Angie's List, told KPRC Local 2 an energy wasting door can be the first place to start when it comes to keeping that precious cold air indoors.

"Your front door is what sets the first impression for visitors to your home, but unfortunately over time that door can warp and crack and become less energy efficient," said Hicks.

During June, July and August in Houston, your air conditioner is working harder.

"When considering installing a new door, first you want to think about which style and what energy efficiency rating it might have to determine which door is going to be right for your house," Hicks said.

If your door is more than 15 years old, it is probably time to replace it and just like home appliances, doors now come with energy ratings.

While it may seem like a simple thing to unhook a door and pop in a new one, professional door installer Mark Spencer told KPRC Local 2 consumers really need to consider calling in an expert.

"A door, unlike some other replacements, gets a complete frame overhaul. Everything on a door comes out. So no longer is that homeowner dealing with an older threshold that may or may not be efficient. Typically they are getting a threshold that is a composite material so even if it does get moisture, it will never rot," said Spencer.

Hicks also warns a poorly installed door can cost more money in energy bills and offer less security than the door that was replaced.

However, if a new door is out of the budget, Spencer said replacing the weather-stripping around the entrance or installing a storm door can be a less expensive fix and still offer energy saving benefits.

Door Replacement Hit List:

· Architecture: Decide what kind of look you want. If you live in an older home, it may not be architecturally sensitive to replace an entry door with a contemporary model.

· Durability: Because wooden doors are susceptible to rot and insects, fiberglass and steel are the materials of choice when longevity is an issue.

· Weather elements: Some exterior door materials do not stand up well to direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Is your door properly shielded from the elements via a porch roof or overhang?

· Safety: Doors in 24- or 25-gauge galvanized steel are considered to be the safest, especially for security. Steel doors are often fire-rated at 20, 45, 60 and 90 minutes.

· Energy efficiency: The door you choose can affect the energy efficiency of your home. If this is important to you, check whether the model you're considering is a certified Energy Star door.

· On a budget? If you can't budget a complete door installation, consider replacing the doors weather-stripping to improve the energy efficiency. The addition of a storm door is also an inexpensive investment if our existing door is still in good condition.

Door Choices:

· Wood: Many people like the authentic look of a wooden door for historic homes or country ranches. These doors can be also custom-made. The trade-off comes in high maintenance. Wood doors should be repainted at least every two years to keep them from warping or splitting. If properly sealed, the material is extremely resistant to heat and cold from the outside. A single door can cost upwards of $500 or more.

· Fiberglass: Fiberglass doors come in many styles even looking like real wood, with minimum upkeep. Although it feels light, fiberglass is actually very durable against intrusion and its foam core provides excellent insulation.

· Aluminum: Homeowners will spend at least $600 on a good aluminum door, but they should also realize that many aluminum door manufacturers offer warranties of up to 20 years on their doors. Aluminum doors have an enamel finish that does not rust or need repainting, and they consist of an inner core covered by an aluminum skin.

· Steel: Best bet for security, as they are stronger than any other front door option. Steel doors always contain cores made of wood or steel within a steel frame and skin. These doors usually need to be repainted frequently, but they are the least expensive of all the common front door options. Homeowners can get a basic steel front door for less than $200. Disadvantages to steel are mostly aesthetic; steel comes in fewer style options and can't replicate the look of wood.