When purchasing a garage door, one of the last thoughts on most people’s minds is how energy efficient the door is. After all, your door just serves as a way to enter and exit your garage, right? In truth, your garage door is the single largest opening in your home and has a direct impact on your monthly energy costs. In fact, leaving your garage open is similar to leaving all the windows open in your house.
By taking the time to ensure your garage is properly insulated, you can reduce your monthly heating and cooling costs.
Choosing Energy Efficient New Garage Doors
When looking for an energy efficient garage door, you might come across a rating known as “R-value”. This is a measurement of the insulating ability of the door. Manufacturers frequently use this rating to show how energy efficient their door is.
Unfortunately, while this rating is accurate, the means through which manufacturers obtain it is suspect. Instead, a little knowledge of garage door parts will set you on the right path for insulating your garage.
There are a few different types of materials garage doors are made out of, including steel, wood, wood composite, fiberglass, aluminum, glass/acrylic, and vinyl. Understanding the differences between these materials will allow you to make a more informed decision when buying new garage doors.
- Wood doors are charming and offer an unmatched level of curb appeal. Aesthetics aside, wood does provide decent insulation against climate and noise compared to an uninsulated steel door. An insulated steel door will outperform wood, however.
- Steel is one of the most popular garage material choices. Steel doors come in varying thickness measured in gauges. Lower gauges mean a thicker metal which will offer a high level of insulation compared to that of wood.
- Aluminum offers the convenience of limited garage door maintenance thanks to their rustproof qualities. However, their flimsy and lightweight nature provides no insulating qualities.
- Composite Wood is a durable type of fake wood material that often yields insulation levels comparable to Steel. It’s a great choice for those wanting wood style doors without the upkeep involved.
- Fiberglass doors are durable and resistant to water-salt corrosion. However, like aluminum, they’re lightweight and don’t provide good insulation.
- Glass/Acrylic, while great-looking, have limited insulating capabilities.
- Vinyl garage doors are extremely durable, offering a high level of dent, rust, and corrosion resistance. While they’re built to last, they do have a limited amount of insulating ability when used alone.
Garage Door Insulation Choices
Regardless what material you choose for your garage door installation, you’ll find three different insulating options:
1) Single Layer Doors
These doors have no insulation and are only comprised of a single layer of the material you chose for your garage door. These doors are the most affordable but aren’t a great choice if you’re looking for energy-efficient garage doors. Single layer doors are best reserved for detached garages.
2) Double Layer Doors
Like single layer doors, double layer is comprised of a single main material, but also provide a layer of insulation on the interior. Typically, polystyrene is used as the insulating material for double layer doors.
3) Triple Layer Doors
Offering the highest level of insulation, triple layer doors have a front and back material with polystyrene or polyurethane sandwiched in the middle.
Polyurethane or Polystyrene?
When it comes to garage door insulation, Polyurethane and Polystyrene are the two most popular choices. Polystyrene is basically styrofoam, the same kind of material you’d find in a cheap disposable coffee cup. Unsurprisingly, it offers the least amount of insulating qualities.
Polyurethane, on the other hand, is applied to the inside of triple layer doors in a liquid foam spray. It quickly expands throughout the entirety of the garage door and then hardens. Polyurethane offers superior insulation capabilities and thus better energy savings than Polystyrene.
Not Ready For New Garage Doors?
No problem! With a few supplies, you can improve your garage door’s insulation on your own.
DIY insulating material typically comes in two styles: reflective foil or insulating panels.
Insulating panels are made out of polystyrene or fiberglass. Both can be installed with an hour and offer a good layer of insulation, with the latter being slightly superior.
Reflective foil offers a higher level of insulation and involves an application of aluminum foil placed in between two layers of polyethylene foam.
However, it’s important to note that the extra weight could impede the operation of your garage door. You may need to balance your garage door spring.
When insulating your door, inspect your weatherstripping at the bottom of the door. This is a long piece of rubber that extends along the base of your garage door. It wears quickly, so consider replacing it as it helps with the insulation.
Lastly, inspect your door for any signs of air leakage. You can use caulk and other sealant to close up any gaps.
Other Pitfalls To Look Out For
Asides from your door, there are other culprits in rising energy usage within your garage.
– Have any windows in your garage? Some windows are insulated poorly and allow air to flow in. Choose double or triple glazed windows to help keep that air out.
– Cracked garage floor concrete will allow cold air from the ground to pass into the garage. Repair all cracks with a sealant to prevent this from occurring.
– Unbeknownst to many, a garage door opener consumes power even when not in use. Replace yours with an energy efficient model that draws less electricity when in standby.
While improving the energy efficiency of your garage may sound like an expensive endeavor, the reduction in your home’s heating and cooling costs can more than make up the expenses in the long-run.