Energy Efficiency Showdown: Sliding Glass Doors vs. French Doors

With home energy cost being a constant battle for homeowners, solutions have been cropping up everywhere. Energy efficiency is the goal. Energy efficiency is reducing the amount of energy used to supply services to your home.Being energy efficient is commonly related to the heating and cooling cost. Power can be electric or gas, but one thing is for sure the cost adds up.

The primary way heat and cold air escape a home is through the doors and windows. That is why these essential items are top on the list for replacement. If your home is 20 years or older chances are your windows and doors are not the best option if you are trying to be energy efficient. In this article we are focusing on the door aspect, explicitly sliding glass doors and french doors. Homeowners love the look of both of these entries, and for a good reason. Sliding doors let in more natural light and connect the outside to the inside of your home. French doors are classy and are a timeless favorite for their functionality. So with wanting to save on energy costs which of these heavy hitters is the winner? Let’s check each one of these and get down to the heart of the energy efficient matter.

French Doors

First up is the beautiful French doors. Characteristics of the french door include a framed piece or pieces of glass. They can be ornate and come in a variety of options. Similar to the sliding door, a French door offers excellent ventilation and natural sunlight to shine into your home. They are not limited to one track, like their competitor. This bonus is also a negative for french doors. The most significant downside to french doors is space. French doors open out and have a swinging action. On the other side, you can open one of both doors allowing for more room to go in and out of the home. If you have ever moved large furniture, you know how beautiful this feature is. But what about how it performs in the energy efficiency test. Well, the problem with this style door is that the door pairs have a small gap between where the doors meet and also the frame of the wall. It can create a draft and a place where your cool air-conditioned air can escape. While you can purchase an energy efficient french door, this is mainly focused on the thickness of the glass and its enclosure.

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors in comparison to French doors have a very different functionality. Sliding doors consist of two pieces of glass that are enclosed in a frame that rests on tracks. There is one moveable door, sometimes both depending on style and the doors sit on rollers. It easily allows the door to open and close horizontally on the track. When it comes to flaws, sliding doors aren’t without theirs. They tend to have a few problems with sticking or not closing properly but are quickly repaired. They also tend to have issues when homes shift or settle causing their alignments to become off. Sliding doors offer a considerable amount of natural light when in cold months can help heat your home if you have purchased an energy efficient entry. The reason homeowners love these doors is that they don’t require any more additional space to open and close. It is beneficial for when you want to place furniture. There is no concern that you will disrupt how the door will be able to function. When it comes to energy efficiency, the sliding entrance is at the top of its game. Because of how sliding doors work they allow for better sealing. The doors overlap each other which creates a very nice seal. It doesn’t allow for air to penetrate or escape. It is mostly in part due to the seal that happens between the overlap and also between the doors and the frame. The sliding glass door will use double sided panes in their construction. It means that your home will not be affected by the ambient temperature outside.

So Which is the Victor?

Based solely on how well sliding doors perform for energy saving benefits, they are the winner. Their almost air tight seal between each entry and walls lessen airflow to come and go from your home and makes them a clear choice. It’s true that they are not as “fancy” as French Doors, but they do offer many significant benefits. It’s hard to overlook that each month the energy bill will be significantly lower due to having an energy efficient sliding door installed.

What Should You Look For When Purchasing a New Energy Efficient Patio Door?

So, you’ve decided on purchasing a sliding glass door for your new construction or replacement for your old patio door option. Where should you buy your new door, and what should you look for in a new door? The first feature to check if your new door has is a UV coating filtration on the glass. It can significantly help with heating and cooling cost and block harmful rays from entering your home. The second is the energy efficiency of the lens. Many manufacturers will have products labelled with Energy Star, Energy Efficient or Low-E glass. You can purchase sliding doors that have frames made of vinyl or wood. Vinyl and Wood frames both offer their own sets of pros and cons, but as far as energy efficient goes they are about equal. This decision is solely a personal one, and what a homeowner would prefer style-wise.


As you can see from these comparisons, sliding glass doors are victorious against French doors when it comes to being energy efficient. It doesn’t mean there aren’t some great brands on the market for French doors. There are some fantastic options for French Doors, but they’re efficiency just doesn’t stack up against that of the sliding glass doors. If you are interested in having sliding glass patio doors added to your home, give Placer Exteriors a call at 916-823-8535.

Placer Exteriors
710 Bloomfield Ln,
Roseville CA 90000

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