According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average cost of energy in US households is about $1,411.80 a year. Almost half of the energy that we use in our homes goes towards space heating and cooling, meaning that most American households spend upwards of $700 each year to keep their home a pleasant indoor temperature. Unfortunately, inadequate insulation and a leaky building envelopes lead to a massive amount of unwanted heat loss and heat gain. Furthermore, data from the US Department of Energy finds that “heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25% – 30% of residential heating and cooling energy use. If you are selecting windows for new construction or to replace existing windows, it’s important to choose the most efficient windows you can afford that work best in your climate.”
While opting for triple pane windows and energy-efficient doors is certainly one way to cut back on unwanted heat loss and heat gain, most homeowners never consider the option of installing an air door or air curtain. Below, we take a quick look at four of the main advantages that come with installing a residential air door or air curtain.
What is a Residential Air Curtain?
Most people probably associate air curtains with larger commercial buildings. When entering your local grocery store, for example, you probably are greeted by a burst of air from above as you pass through the threshold. Air curtains have long been used by a wide array of commercial establishments such as restaurants, grocery stores, large retailers, warehouses, and other large buildings where open doors or windows jeopardize the energy efficiency, thermal performance, and indoor air quality of the building. Studies have shown that not only are curtains a cost-effective way to lower the energy costs of large, commercial buildings, but they also outperform traditional vestibules while costing significantly less to install.
Air curtains or air doors, however, are not only designed for large commercial spaces. Recently, many leading builders and contractors in the area of energy-efficient home construction and renovation have begun to recommend residential air curtains as a way to drastically improve the thermal performance of the homes we live in.
A residential air curtain is most likely to be installed above a large window or door that is often left open. Residential air curtains have been installed in a number of different situations including:
- Above garage doors (in an insulated garage) allowing for a more comfortable home workshop;
- Above large front doors that are opened and closed frequently;
- Above large, bay windows in living rooms that can be opened to improve air circulation in homes.
A residential air door will have a small sensor that will trigger the air door to turn on whenever the door or window is opened. The stream of air generated from the fan covering the opening effectively separates the outdoor temperature from your interior environment. For homeowners worried about the aesthetics or the sound of a large air curtain inside their home, Air Door Distributors offers a number of different models that can be hidden or recessed inside ceilings and operate essentially silently.
Benefits of Residential Air Doors
Installing a residential air curtain offers several different benefits for your home, including:
- Lower Energy Costs: An air curtain over your front door is essentially an added layer of protection that enhances your home´s energy efficiency. A recent study published by the Air Movement and Control Association International found that for commercial establishments, “the modeled air curtain door is shown to reduce air infiltration significantly under the same conditions when compared to either the single door or the vestibule door….Compared to the vestibule door, the air curtain door can save 0.3% ~ 2.2% energy for zone 3 ~ 8, corresponding to 1146 kWh ~ 18986 kWh.” Similar savings should be expected for residential homes, especially if a door or window is opened several times during the day.
- Improved Indoor Air Quality: Residential air curtains can also help to improve indoor air quality in two different ways. Firstly, it can stop outside air contaminants from entering your home. Pollen and other allergens, exhaust from passing vehicles, and other common air contaminants are essentially “blocked” from entering the home by the stream of air produced by the air curtain. Furthermore, some air curtain models can also include an air purifying device. As the conditioned air from inside your home circulates through the air curtain, UV rays can effectively kill off viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens that might be inside your home. The MARS UVC Air Curtain distributed by Air Door Distributors is one example of how air curtains can actively improve the safety of your home´s indoor air quality.
- Protection from Pests and Flying Insects: An air curtain or air door over a strategic window or door can also help to protect your home from flying insects such as flies, mosquitos, and other nuisances. The steady stream of downward air keeps the insects from entering your home even if you decide to leave the window open.
- Quick Payback Period: Lastly, a residential air curtain offers a relatively quick payback period thus making this home renovation one of the most cost effective strategies to improve the comfort levels and energy efficiency of your home. Depending on the size and type of air curtain or air door you install, the energy savings you perceive on your monthly heating and cooling bills will begin to pay off the investment from the first month after installation.
Businesses, warehouses, and other large commercial establishments have long enjoyed the benefits and advantages that come with installing air curtains or air doors in strategic entrance areas to their buildings. Because air curtains can be custom manufactured to a specific size and profile, homeowners across the country would do well to consider this energy-saving and air-purifying option for their homes.