Your home’s entry doors are a crucial part of your home’s building envelope. When it comes to thinking about energy efficiency and keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, what you’re really thinking about is your home’s building envelope. So before I get into whether or not you should consider a storm door, let’s first make sure we understand the role an entry door and a storm door play in protecting your home.
A building envelope is a physical separation between a conditioned environment (such as the inside of your house) from an unconditioned environment (such as the world outside your house). Your home’s building envelope is its defense against weather and energy loss.
This means when an entry door is closed, it’s a crucial part of your home’s building envelope. When an entry door is open, it’s creating a gap in your home’s building envelope. Similarly, even if your door is closed but the door is not properly sealed into your building envelope, it’s as if you’ve left your door partially open because you’re allowing energy to escape.
So when it comes to thinking about storm doors, you really want to consider two things:
- Is your existing entry door already energy efficient?
- Is your entry door exposed to harsh weather?
Is your entry door already energy efficient?
When I talk to homeowners about their entry doors and windows with respect to their building envelope, the most crucial concepts I discuss are
– proper insulation
– adequate ventilation
– sufficient sealing
When it comes to entry doors, good weather stripping and a tight seal are the first things to consider about an entry door’s energy efficiency.
If your current entry door is newer and made of fiberglass…
Then check its weather stripping and caulking. If there are cracks or you know your door is drafty, you’ll want to make sure these two things are taken care of before you proceed with a storm door. Why? Because the weather stripping and sealing will ensure your door is properly insulated and not allowing for drafts around the doorframe. These drafts can be one of the top drivers of high-energy bills.
If you have an old, wooden door…
A storm door can help conserve energy. If you live in a house that predates thermal glass, man-made sealants, other modern upgrades, and your entry door has a window, a storm door will cut down on heat loss. New, energy-efficient glass will provide a better shield for your home than an aged wooden door with nicks and cracks that allow energy to escape. If there are drafts coming through gaps around your entry door frame, this is typically an indication that you have an older door that has become warped due to age and you should replace it. An old warped door no longer has a tight seal, and this seal is really what you want for your home’s building envelope.
Is your entry door exposed to the weather?
If you don’t have an overhang or roof above your entry door, a storm door will provide protection against snow, sleet, and driving rains. If your door is exposed to weather, it will take a beating unless you have a storm door protecting it. If you do have a porch, or an overhang that measures at least four by four feet, your door is pretty well protected from the elements and a storm door may not be necessary.
So are storm doors necessary?
So, if an entry door has a tight seal, fits snugly into its frame, and is well protected from whatever the weather, then a storm door may not be necessary. If you’re unsure about how well your entry door is performing check out these entry door warning signs!