Whether you’re facing a heat wave or a cold spell, you’re ready for the worst Mother Nature can hand you if you have an efficient garage door. The biggest opening to any home or business, your overhead garage door can make or break your energy efficiency, security, and resistance to extreme weather events.

Especially when dealing with the erratic temperature fluctuations that are becoming the new normal, a garage door that is properly insulated will make a big difference in keeping your utility costs under control. And you aren’t limited in options for overhead door insulation levels, materials and design; you can easily install an insulated door that is uniquely perfect for your business.

Energy efficiency is all the buzz these days, not only because it’s the right thing to do but also because it will save you money on your utility bill. What’s more, an efficient, insulated overhead door may be a necessity, depending on the nature of your business. Do you store temperature-sensitive goods or equipment in your warehouse? Chances are an insulated door could benefit your operation.

Here are a few factors that affect efficiency that you should consider when installing a new garage door at your facility:

Garage Door Insulation Should Have a High R-Value

R-value is a measure of thermal efficiency, or more specifically, the measure of heat flow through a thickness of material. Generally speaking, the higher the R-value, the greater the resistance. In hot weather, an insulated garage door resists outdoor heat from infiltrating your business; in cold weather, the insulation prevents heat from escaping. Garage door R-values will depend on how thick the door is, what material the door is made of, and what type of insulation material is used.

Insulated Overhead Doors Should Have a Low U-Value

U-value measures the heat flow through a building or insulating material. The lower the U-value, the better the insulation’s ability. You won’t see this value on labels as often as R-value, and it may sound the same, but R and U are actually reciprocals of each other. Lower U-values mean that the overhead door has a better ability to insulate, whereas higher R-values mean it has better thermal resistance. It’s really just stopping temperature escape vs allowing temperature intrusion.

Insulation Material Makes a Difference

Polystyrene and polyurethane are the two materials used most often to insulate garage doors. Polystyrene is generally in the form of rigid panels inserted between steel layers of a door. These doors operate less noisily than uninsulated ones and increase energy efficiency to a degree, but are not as efficient as polyurethane.

Polyurethane is a foam that is injected between layers of steel in the garage door. It expands to fill all crevices of the door, while the foam bonds to the frame as it expands. This adds to the strength of the garage door and can even prevent some denting. Polyurethane insulation provides a higher level of climate control and sound isolation than polystyrene.

Essentially, any insulation that is a “filling” is referred to as a thermal break. This “break,” meaning the insulation material, will minimize air infiltration between the metal skins of the garage door, so that it is more efficient.

Don’t Forget the Weather Seals on Your Business’ Garage Doors

A vinyl weather seal attached to a metal retainer helps keep conditioned air inside, and unconditioned air outside. Weather seals are one of the things we tell our customers never to lax on; it’s a super-simple, super-cheap maintenance task that can have big effects on your energy efficiency as well as keeping your facility pest-proof.

Most overhead garage doors have weather seals on the bottom and sides. Make sure to check these seals regularly and replace them when they start to get stiff, tear, crack or crumble. No reason to install a well-insulated overhead door and skimp on the weather seals. You basically render the insulation useless if your weather seals are a mess.

​If you’re tired of your HVAC bill and your workers keep complaining about those awful winter drafts at the loading dock, it’s time to consider and insulated overhead door. An experienced specialist in commercial overhead doors can give you the facts and educated opinions you need to decide if you want to design and install new insulated doors or simply retrofit and fill your existing garage doors. Either way, your utility bill and your employees will thank you.