sliding vs french doors for patio
I am asking this here because you guys will think (perhaps even debate) on this question more than in the other fora.
I have a contract to buy a house that was built in 1978. It has the original windows (aluminum with storms), so it also may have the original patio door. It was warm when we did the inspection, so there was no way to feel for heat loss. I have almost decided to replace the existing patio door to get one with the blinds in-between the panes of glass. This is so we can keep the dogs from looking out and finding something to bark at in the evening when we are trying to relax. Of course, I am also thinking that we might be less drafty, too, with a newer doorwall.
1. These type of windows - where you can remove a glass to clean or repair the blinds inside - are they worse than normal double or triple panes for energy efficiency? Does the blinds-inside feature ruin the efficiency?
2. If I were to replace the patio door, would a sliding doorwall or a french-door style be more efficient for heat loss when letting the dogs in and out? The dogs are medium to large; 36#, 60#, and 68#. Is sliding a door open a foot and a half or opening a french door going to be worse? I just can't get a handle on all of the variables to decide.
Unfortunately, there is no room to put a double-door, foyer kind of setup here. The family room and the garage side door are the only two ways to let out the dogs.
Oh, and I had to give up on the idea of a pellet stove insert in the fireplace. I learned that it will give off a faint smoke smell into the house, and my lungs can't take that, I'd die of coughing fits from asthma! I am now considering an electric heat mat under a new wood floor, that way we could keep the general temperature of the house lower while keeping a 90 year-old parent from freezing in the evening while watching TV. I know the electric is not a renewable source, but I am hoping that being able to lower the overall heat level of the house and just space-heating Dad's room and the family room will save on some energy consumption. Unfortunately, electric heat is the only kind my lungs might tolerate.
The furnace is 27 years old. We will replace it next autumn with something high-efficiency. The current owner is giving a home warranty, so we'll wait one year and hope the furnace dies while the warranty company still has to pay something toward the replacement. Is Geothermal practical for a .24 acre suburban lot? Would it be a significant improvement in efficiency over a 90% natural gas furnace?