Expanding the quest to reduce monthly expenses by adding an energy-efficient garage door proves to be a wise decision. Known for hot summers and cold winters, Southern Wisconsin’s climate can compromise energy bills for every Madison WI homeowner. When your garage is attached to the house, it is the largest opening for air – heated and cooled – to escape. Because the garage door has become the No. 1 entry point for many families, it is opened a closed several times each day bringing in blasts of hot, humid or chilled, dry air. Properly insulating an attached garage is a great step toward reducing monthly energy bills, but don’t neglect the garage door.
Energy-efficient Garage Door Expands Usable Space
A well-insulated garage can provide a comfortable workshop or recreational space, not just storage – especially if there’s an added heating or cooling appliance. All the insulation in walls and ceiling won’t do the job effectively if the largest element in the room is neglected. To keep the inside comfortable the garage door has to play its part. Insulated garage doors are expanding usable spaces for many Wisconsin residents. An energy-efficient, insulated garage door has the added benefit of providing extra soundproofing, too.
Dealing with insulation of any kind, the term “R Value” comes up. The R Value of any insulation is the ability of a substance to keep heat/cold in/out. The higher the R Value, the better the insulation material does the job. For an energy-efficient garage door, the R Value will be measured by the insulating qualities of the door itself plus the insulation material added to it. Every basic door has some insulating ability, but adding additional protection to the inside makes the big difference.
Choose Your Basic Garage Door Material
The most popular modern garage doors are created from: Steel, aluminum, wood or composite wood. Consider the energy efficiency of each: (See our Garage Door Gallery)
Steel Garage Doors – steel is the most common choice for residential garage doors because it is durable and lightweight. Steel, by itself, offers little insulation although lower grades (thicker) are a bit better than high-grade (thinner) steel.
- Multi-layered doors with insulation between the layers, is the best choice for added durability, dent resistance and energy efficiency.
Aluminum Garage Doors – aluminum doors may offer a more modern look but because they are lightweight they are poor insulators. Even with additional layers of insulation they seldom match their steel competitors for R Value.
Wooden Garage Doors – wooden garage doors are more likely to be selected as high-end additions to the home because they add style. Although often selected for looks rather than performance, wood is an excellent insulator so wooden doors are a good choice.
Composite Wood Garage Doors – an excellent alternative to real wood, composites are durable and require little maintenance. Often found as an overlay on a steel interior to combine the performance of steel with the appearance of wood. Insulation value is less than wood but more than steel so it makes a workable combination.
Adding Insulation is the Key
None of the traditional materials for garage doors provides much insulation so providing an additional layer of protection is the key. Creating a more energy-efficient garage door is as easy as adding a layer of material on the inside of the door. Polystyrene or polyurethane foam is the most common garage door insulator. As with all insulation, the thicker the foam the higher the R Value.
TIP FROM A PRO – A 1 3/8-inch polystyrene foam panel has an R Value of 6.5 while a slightly thinner, 1 5/16-inch panel of the same material has an R Value of 6.3. When it comes to insulation, every little bit counts.
Polyurethane is considered a better insulator because it adds higher R Value without increasing the thickness of the layer on the inside of the door. Polyurethane is usually applied as a spray-on foam and the technique allows it to fill cracks and crevasses to provide protection adding sheets of foam can’t reach.
TIP FROM A PRO – compare the two options to really see the difference. The 1 3/8-inch polystyrene mentioned above has an R Value of 6.5. The same thickness in polyurethane has an R Value of 12.9.
Energy-efficient Garage Door Options
The selection of garage door insulation options usually offers three choices: (See our Garage Door Gallery)
- Single-layer doors – no added insulation at all. A choice for garages that are not attached to your home and not heated to cooled in any way.
- Double-layer doors – usually including a single polystyrene application on the inside of the door.
- Triple-layer doors – thicker layers of either foam insulating material or combination.
TIP FROM A PRO – Even the best insulated door doesn’t do its job with big gaps between it and wall. Be sure your door has top-quality, well-fitting hardware, seals and weather-stripping. Professional installation is important for a proper fit.
What about windows in a garage door? Some modern and carriage house styles include windows. How do they impact the energy efficiency of the door? As with any room in the house, windows can be a weak spot where energy can escape. If you do select a garage door with windows, choose one with double- or triple-glazed, low-emissivity (Low E) coatings on each window to reduce heat transfer.
Go With The Pros for Garage Doors and Door Openers
The trained professionals at Northland Door Systems provide the latest in garage doors with complete installation and service throughout Southern Wisconsin. Call Northland Door Systems at 608-251-3627 or email us for professional assistance to select the most energy-efficient garage door for your Madison WI home.