Weatherizing the attic can slice your heating and cooling bills by as much as 30 percent, according to the Department of Energy. But to maximize the savings, you need to remember to insulate the attic hatch. Even a 1/4-inch gap around its perimeter can leak the same amount of air supplied by a typical heating duct. Here's where Battic Door Attic Stairs Insulator Cover, on display at the International Builders' Show this week, could lead to big energy and money savings.
Produced by the Battic Door Energy Conservation Products of Mansfield, Massachusetts, the cover is supposedly the only one of its kind to meet the latest energy and building codes, which require that all access doors from conditioned spaces to unconditioned ones be weatherstripped and insulated to a level equivalent to the surrounding surfaces.
The hatch covers come in three sizes (22”x54”, 25”x54”, and 30”x54”) costing between $30 and $40, plus shipping and handling. Assembly happens in the attic, where you first fold the cover into shape, using the self-locking tabs to create a sturdy box. Next you apply foam weatherstripping to the perimeter of your hatch. Finally, you drop the cover onto the weatherstripping as you leave the attic. The edges of the cover embed into the weatherstripping without actually adhering to it, forming an airtight seal. To get back into the attic, you simply lift the cover out of the way.
The cover can also be purchased as part of a kit that increases its thermal performance. The “better” option, $60 plus shipping and handling, includes a reflective aluminum shield that slips over the cover. The “best” option, $100 plus shipping and handling, includes the shield as well as R-50 insulation that sits inside the cover (shown).
Consumer Reports hasn’t tested the Battic Door cover, but it appears to follow the laws of thermodynamics. Could you achieve the same results with some caulk, weatherstripping, and insulation. Possibly. But it might not be as easy.