Attic Accesses: High Priority or No Big Deal?

March/April 2005
A version of this article appears in the March/April 2005 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more articles about Weatherization
March 01, 2005
Some calculations answer the question, How much does proper attic access insulation matter?
        My firm, Energy Sentry Solutions, provides a product— the Energy Guardian—to insulate and seal attic accesses. In the course of everyday business, I have come upon a recurring difference of opinion among weatherization professionals regarding the importance of attic upgrades. Indeed, all weatherization programs address attic accesses with a wide variety of remediation measures. How much energy and money will the crew save the home’s occupants by insulating and sealing the attic access? The answer can have a huge impact on projected savings, on the amount budgeted for this improvement, and on the type of measures used to upgrade this 5–10 ft2 area of the home. How Much Do Attic Accesses Matter?         To evaluate the consequences of different remediation measures, let’s first examine the impact of attic pull-down ladders and pop-up hatches on the entire attic thermal barrier. While the measurements of the opening vary slightly, a typical attic ladder creates a 10 ft2 opening. The ladder is attached to 1/4-inch plywood that has an R-value of 0.31.         There are some who insist that the lack of ...

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