Question

Is there a good way to reduce energy loss and associated costs due to frequent use of doors?

Asked by chad senf
Huntington Beach, CA

How can we reduce energy loss through our back service door? We're located in the subtropical region of the U.S., so an AC unit is imperative for comfort for staff and customers alike. Door is 27' x 14' and is used frequently throughout the day. AC unit was installed in 2008.

Answer

Paula Zimin

Answered by Paula Zimin

New York, NY

Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA)

August 3, 2010

The best way to mitigate energy loss through air transfer due to frequent use of doors is to install a non-conditioned or minimally conditioned vestibule, with self-closing doors to both the interior and exterior.

  • Doors should have weather-stripping and sweeps.
  • A vestibule may be retrofitted within the existing building footprint (depending on availability of space), or can be constructed as an addition.
  • This addition can be either permanent or seasonally installed during the summer months. Northern shop owners often install temporary “winter vestibules” on the outside of their shop entrances for the primary purpose of keeping their heat inside. Your intent is the same, only applied to the summer months.

If the primary traffic through this very large door is pedestrian, provide an alternative door for people to move through instead of the large door and utilize the vestibule concept there if possible.

If the primary traffic is more vehicular with service trucks and/or loading equipment, consider the vestibule idea on a larger scale. Perhaps a permanent canopy is installed outside of the large door with a commercially sized ceiling fan (Big Ass Fans, for example) providing air circulation within this seasonally enclosed space. In either condition, your customers and employees need to be vigilant about closing the door behind them and keeping the cool air in.

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