Often found in historic homes, French doors make any entryway visually appealing with an elegant look that invites natural light to fill your home. They make rooms appear brighter, more spacious and more inviting, but are French doors energy efficient? This is an important question for energy-conscious homeowners and one with an answer that has changed over the years.
What Are French Doors?
French doors are basically hinged patio doors that can swing inward or outward like standard entry doors. They usually consist of two operating doors that open from the center, but French doors may have one fixed door paired with a movable door. You can also opt for a single French door in lieu of a pair in narrow spaces that won’t accommodate a wider, two-door entrance.
Commonly used as egress doors for patio areas, French doors are easily transitioned into interior doors, unlike many other types of exterior doors. Installing a French door creates a seamless indoor/outdoor connection for patio areas or adds a unique charm to formal interior living areas. While energy efficiency isn’t a concern with installations in your home’s interior, it plays a key role in your decision to install exterior French doors.
What Makes French Doors Energy Efficient?
In years gone by, the answer to the question, are French doors energy efficient, would have almost always been no. French doors have historically had poor energy efficiency ratings, but today’s models are manufactured differently to effectively remedy this problem. Recent improvements, including door materials, dual pane glass, additional glazing and better insulated designs, have made contemporary French doors more energy efficient.
Energy Efficiency In The Glass
Since they contain so much glass, how are French doors energy efficient? Similar to other improved manufacturing methods, updates in glass making garnered improvements that prevent the massive loss of energy previously seen in glass panes. Installing French doors made of high-quality glass with the appropriate combination of energy performance enhancements eliminates one of the biggest efficiency obstacles.
Dual-pane glass greatly improved energy efficiency in all types of windows and doors with glass inserts through its insulative properties and heat transfer blocking abilities. This is combined with low-emissivity coatings on the glass surface and/or low-conductivity gases, such as argon, filling the space between the two panes. Check the National Fenestration Rating Council labels, which explain these and other important energy performance ratings to use when comparing French door models.
Most modern French doors are manufactured with dual-pane glass suitable for the local climate, which may be enhanced with a low-E glazing or coating. This coating is especially important in hot climates that lose cooling energy, and cold climates that lose heating energy, through poorly constructed glass panes. If your location is prone to extreme temperatures, ensure optimal energy efficiency by choosing French doors with argon gas-filled panes and a low U-factor measurement.
Are Sliding Doors Or French Doors More Energy Efficient?
Since both types are often used as patio doors, another key question is are sliding doors or French doors more energy efficient? Because French doors close in the center or against the frame with no overlap, the opportunity for air infiltration is higher in French doors. Combined with bowing caused by extreme wind that allows even more air leakage, French doors used to be the loser when compared to sliding doors.
Modern, high-quality French doors use weather stripping to create a tighter seal than older metal-on-metal sliding doors. However, advances that have made French doors more energy efficient work just as well at improving energy efficiency in today’s sliding patio doors. You can get hinged and sliding patio doors of equal efficiency, so space limitations may be the determining factor, since French doors require more room to operate.
Get Energy Efficient Doors Today
Thompson Creek’s fully customizable French doors feature double doors made of steel or fiberglass and the latest energy efficient materials. Even the most energy efficient doors won’t perform as expected without proper installation, but you can count on our trained installers for a perfect fit. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation price estimate for your individually crafted French doors.