How Pet Doors Could Affect Your HVAC Efficiency

How Pet Doors Could Affect Your HVAC EfficiencyPaws can’t change the thermostat setting, but pet doors may increase cooling and heating costs. It’s a law of physics that heat moves from a warmer zone into a cooler zone, wherever it finds an opening. Heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter costs you money as your HVAC system runs longer cycles to compensate. Pet doors, it turns out, may provide access for heat on the move in all seasons.

Here are two reasons why these small portals for furry friends can be energy-wasters:

  1. Airflow carries heat. A pet door totaling 12 square inches in size allows as much as 70 cubic feet per minute of airflow when opened, depending on the temperature differential between indoors and outdoors.
  2. To make the standard pet door easy to nudge open and flop shut, they are frequently designed with a gap around the perimeter of the floppy door. This opening totals up to as much as three square inches of direct air leakage, 24/7/365. In addition, the door material itself is typically flexible plastic with little or no insulating factor to resist heat transfer.

When installing a pet door or upgrading an existing door, keep these features in mind:

  • Unless you have a pet with special needs, consider a solid door versus a flexible flap. Solid construction means less heat loss due to conduction through the door material.
  • A pet door that meets energy efficiency standards will typically have a label advertising that fact. Look for efficient pet doors which incorporate double sealing and have been tested for air leakage and heat transfer, using similar methods and standards as full-size doors and windows. An energy-saving pet door should have air leakage as low as 0.3 cubic feet per minute per square foot of door size when closed. U-factor, a figure that expresses heat transfer through the door material, should be around 0.60 BTUs per hour.

Want to know more about the link between pet doors and HVAC efficiency? Ask the professionals at Paitson Bros., now serving Terre Haute for more than 95 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859. 

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