Today, energy efficiency, which is the concept of generating more output using less energy, is of paramount relevance. As calls and efforts for reduction in greenhouse emissions on a global scale are at an all-time high, home and property owners can contribute in their own significant way in maximizing energy efficiency by identifying ways to reduce their carbon-footprint and energy expense.
In addition, heating and cooling costs, especially, can cause huge dents in a household budget. This means selecting the best materials and construction for every element of the building envelope, which are the elements of the building that control the flow of energy inside the building, including your doors, windows, floors, ceilings, and seals and weatherstripping. Doors and windows, especially if they are poorly chosen or installed, can be points of energy loss and therefore, there’s a need to choose energy-efficient options that will facilitate the movement of energy - light, air or heat - within the house and minimize energy loss to the maximum extent possible.
Why Energy Efficiency?
1. Save Costs:
As we’ve mentioned before, heating and cooling costs are a significant part of a home’s budget, with the average American spending over $2,000, per year on energy costs, alone. By choosing energy-efficient door and windows that maximize reliance on natural energy sources, households can cut their utility bills significantly.
2. Help the Environment:
This goes without saying: reducing emissions and reducing our carbon footprint just allows us to do our bit in stopping the effects of pollution from wreaking havoc on us in the future.
3. Enhance the Quality of Life:
Energy efficiency can also benefit your health by improving the quality of air, and reducing reliance on artificial cooling and heating systems which consume high CO-emitting fuels like gas, propane or wood.
Choosing Energy Efficient Patio Doors
When it comes to choosing energy-efficient patio doors, there are a number of considerations to take in. Patio doors serve a multi-fold purpose which includes:
- Affording you a wide, clear view that enhances the aesthetic in your home: No matter how big or limited your space is, a patio door can complement the design of any house, adding to its curb appeal. They also make the room look bigger and spacious, and provide you with a beautiful view.
- Improving the overall value of your home: In addition to enhancing a home’s curb-appeal, since they create seamless divides between the exterior (your patio, backyard, front-yard, etc) and interior spaces of your house, they allow you to maximize the value and appeal of both spaces: which can make them excellent prospects for future investments should the need arise.
- Improving your home’s energy efficiency: Patio doors allow more natural light and fresh air to enter your home, and thereby, reducing your reliance on air-conditioning and artificial lighting systems.
Choosing the Type of Patio Doors
There are three common patio door styles that are used in homes today:
French doors are classic and probably, the most commonly used styles for patio doors in traditional homes. Owing to the variety of door frames and styles available, they can be used with both traditional and contemporary design elements like sash windows and plate glass windows, respectively. While they require more clearance space when they swing open, they do open up the entire width of the door-frame.
On the flip-side, however, these doors require a fair amount of framework to support the structure and to protect the glass. Additionally, they tend to be poor energy insulators, even with weather-stripping. This is owing to the fact that over time, exposure to strong elements like heat or strong winds can cause the doors to bow or warp out of shape. This can result in water and air start leaking out from the space between the two doors when they are closed.
Bi-Fold or Concertina Doors
This is a vertically stacked design, when opened, slides all the “leaves” of the door into a neat folded stack on one side of the door. The closed stack therefore opens up the entire interior space to the outside, creating the illusion of a seamless integration between your interior and exterior spaces. They also offer flexibility in that, you can control how fully you want to open the door within the frame; you can either open it half-way or you can open up the whole frame length.
However, bi-fold doors, like French doors, do not offer an unobstructed view: the multiple frames required for these doors may not be very aesthetically pleasing to all owners. They also require a fair amount of maintenance of the slide tracks and the casters: failure to keep them well maintained can spoil the purpose of the door. Also, weather-stripping in bi-fold doors isn’t very effective owing to the style.
Frameless Sliding Glass Doors
Frameless sliding doors offer a seamless, uninterrupted view of a gorgeous exterior space. They use safety-grade custom-fit glass panels that are 5x stronger than regular annealed glass and tempered glass. Like bi-folds, they also create a seamless connect to interior and outer spaces; but since they use no frames, the feeling of integration between spaces still remains owing to the absence of obstructing frames.
As for weatherproof glass windows and track-drainage, they use an effective 2-factor system that successfully protects your home from the elements of the weather.
Choosing the Glass for Your Patio Doors
One of the key aspects of choosing the glass panes for your window is not only their ability to let the sunlight in, but also in their ability to keep certain frequencies of sunlight out.
Low Emissivity (Low-E)
Today’s glass technology uses an innovation known as “low emissivity” to do just that. This is because Low-E glass radiates very little heat thanks to special layers of coating - called spectrally selective coatings - that are engineered to block specific wavelengths of sunlight: such as the ultraviolet and infrared spectra. Today’s modern glasses use a coating that’s about 250 nanometers (nm) thick, unlike earlier glasses that had a much thicker layer that gave them a dark mirrored tint. Therefore, today glasses have a dual-benefit of low emissivity with improved clarity.
Title 24 Compliance
If you’re in California, your glass also needs to comply with Title 24 Standards set by the state for glass fenestration products and exterior doors. These standards had been put in place to ensure the energy efficiency for both residential and non-residential buildings in the state, and are periodically updated and revised.
With the rising need for energy efficiency and an increasingly urgent call to control climate change, home and business owners have to step up to the plate to do their bit by switching to external patio doors like those mentioned above. Maximizing the use of natural light and airflow, that these doors afford, they can limit their carbon footprint to a great extent.