Dear Jim: I feel air leaks around my exterior doors, so I want to add storm doors. I want ones which also have screens for summer ventilation.
My budget is limited. What doors do you suggest for the front and back? - Candi M.
Dear Candi: Before you consider storm doors, work on making your primary doors more airtight. Adding storm doors can certainly improve the energy efficiency of almost any house, but they are not designed to correct problems with the primary door.
You should be able to get some replacement weatherstripping for your existing doors and caulk around the frames.
The quality of the storm door construction is important for a nice appearance, long life and security. From strictly an energy efficiency standpoint though, the dead space between the storm and the primary door and blocking the direct force of the wind on the primary door are most important.
If your budget is really tight, try making your own storm door. It is easy to mount hinges in the existing door opening for the storm door.
Make a simple wood frame for the storm door with only the top half open.
Nail spring steel weatherstripping in the door opening which will seal against the storm door frame when closed.
Most home center stores carry sheets of clear acrylic plastic to mount in the frame. Make another narrow wooden frame slightly larger than the open half and mount the acrylic sheet in it. Screw it over the storm door opening. Make a similar frame with screening in it for summer use.
Buying a storm door and installing it yourself is the most typical low-cost option. Aluminum storm doors are very lightweight with the glass panels removed so installing one is a simple do-it-yourself project. They are made to the standard sizes of primary door frame openings.
If you plan to use natural ventilation during the summer, a self-storing triple-track storm/screen door is your most convenient option. I use this type at my own home.
The screen panel has its own vertical track in the door, so it never has to be removed. At the end of winter, just slide one of the glass panels down and slide the screen panel up for ventilation.
A relatively new design of storm/screen door uses a spring-mounted roll-up retractable screen built into the door. When you are ready for ventilation, just lower the glass and pull the screen down as far as you wish. This design is attractive because the screen is hidden away during winter.
When your budget does open up someday, some very attractive all wood frame (made with mortise and tenon joints) storm/screen doors are available. These are strong and secure. For added security, ornate wrought iron storm doors are available with actual deadbolts and very tough stainless steel screens.
The following companies offer storm/screen doors: Cumberland Woodcraft, (800) 367-1884, www.cumberlandwoodcraft.com; Emco Specialties, (800) 933-3626, www.emcodoors.com; Home-guard Industries, (800) 525-1885, www.home-guard.net; Pella, (800) 374-4758, www.pella.com; and ProVia Door, (800) 669-4711, www.proviadoor.com.
Dear Jim: I installed a new electric garage door opener and it has sockets for 60-watt bulbs under the lens. Can I install efficient LED bulbs instead? How much electricity will I save by doing this? - Rudine V.
Dear Rudine: There should not be any problems from installing LED bulbs in the garage door opener. The reason the sockets are limited to 60 watts is concern about excess heat. The LED bulbs will give off practically no heat and use a negligible amount of electricity.
Since you don't need bright light and the bulbs are generally on for only several minutes, you might consider installing just one 25-watt bulb. It will cost much less than LED bulbs.
Send inquiries to James Dulley, Billings Gazette, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com .