The Problem - In Detail

The Importance Of The Thermal Barrier In Your Home

An essential component of any home is the thermal barrier as shown below in orange. Its purpose is simple: keep the temperature at a comfortable level when the outside conditions are hot or cold.

The thermal barrier is made up of an air seal and insulation. Insulation House

The air seal stops convective heat transfer from air leaks much like a wind breaker protect a person on a windy day. Please note that rolled or blown in insulation does not stop air leaks or the convective heat transfer. In fact, using rolled insulation as an air seal over the attic entrance can lead to mold.

Insulation stops conductive heat transfer in much the same way as a sweater keeps the body heat for a person. Please note that air sealing does not stop conductive heat transfer. Insulation is measured in R-Value where the higher the number, the greater the insulating value. Not all areas of the home require the same amount of insulation. The Department of Energy recommends varying amounts of insulation for homes depending on the region of the country where the homes are built.

The attic is the most important area of the entire home for insulation. It needs twice the insulation of the walls. For example, if you need R-14 insulation in your walls, you would need R-28 insulation in your attic.

The Problem Caused By The Attic Entrance

Location

Natural and man made air flow makes the attic the number one area of a home for energy loss.

Attic HoleIn winter, hot air escapes through the attic entrance. Experts refer to that as the stack effect. If you have a two story home and the second floor is colder than the first floor, then you are almost assured that a great deal of heat is escaping into the attic. You may likely feel drafts and might even use a space heater in a room to compensate for it.

If you live in an area where there is much snow, you may also notice icicles in your gutters. The heat that escapes through your attic entrance into the attic continues upward through the roof and melts the snow. The melted snow rolls down the side of the roof into the gutters where it freezes. As more snow melts, the gutters overflow leaving the icicles. Unfortunately, the ice also forms under the roofing which leads to expensive roof damage.

“I learned about The Energy Guardian® Kit from my heating and air conditioning contractor. It was installed last winter.

Right after it was in place, I noticed a difference when I walked upstairs. It was warmer and the draft disappeared. I noticed that the icicles from my gutters also disappeared after a while and never came back.”

Sarah, Homeowner from PA - Read Details

In summer, hot, humid air flows from the attic into the living area of the home. It is often 30+ degrees warmer in the attic than it is outside. For example, if the outside thermometer reads 90 degrees F on a summer day, the attic can easily be 120 degrees F or higher. The super hot air flows into the living area through the attic entrance. If you have a fan or air conditioning, that hot air can be pulled into the living area. As a result, the air conditioning unit must also cool the 120 degree air, which increases the electrical costs dramatically.

The Energy Guardian® push up hatch cover was installed this spring. Our home was cooler and less humid on the first hot spell and stayed that way all summer. I am saving on my electric bill and it is hotter than last summer. My home is more comfortable and the product paid for itself in the first summer. Now that’s a good deal!”

John, Homeowner from FL - Read Details

Lack of insulation

Building standards call for the attic to have the highest level of insulation in the house. Check any national or local building code, insulation chart or U.S. Department of Energy guidelines for verification and details. These standards and guidelines call for insulation for the entire attic-there is no area excluded for these standards. So, the attic

entrance is obviously just as important to insulate properly as the rest of the attic.

Attics need R-28 or higher value for the entire attic, including the attic entrance.

By contrast, the plywood or drywall panel has an insulating value of less than R-1. The insulating value of the attic entrance ranges from R- 3/10 (.31) to R- 4/10. (.41)

Depending on whether you have a push up or side wall panel, folding ladder or stairway to the attic, the attic entrance is a 4-30 square foot hole in your attic insulation.

You need to restore the insulating value of this hole in the attic insulation. Since attic insulation is so important, one needs to beware of partial solutions.

Consider this: there are other kits for attic entrances, but they have only R-3 to R-13 insulating value. Would you consider an attic adequately insulated if it had R-3 or R-13?

If you call any insulating company, they would correctly tell you that you need far more insulation than R-13. The opening over the attic entrance needs to be upgraded to a similar insulating value or a great deal of heat will leave any home in the winter and enter through it during the summer.

Beware of claims of “effective R-Value”. Make sure that you always refer to the one industry standard measurement for insulating value- R-Value.

“We’ve looked at other products over the years, but none of them met our standards. Some didn’t have the high R-Value we were looking for. Others were flimsy.”

Fran Rice, Weatherization Director - Read Details

Loosely Fit Components

The attic entrance is a very loosely fit piece of plywood, drywall or other similar material. The loose fit causes air leaks around the attic entrance that are similar to a window left slightly open to as much as one left open 2 inches. It is a large break in the attic air seal and causes convective heat transfer and drafts.

Building standards also call for the attic to be air sealed. Again, they refer to the entire attic, which includes the attic entrance.

The air leaks are significant. In winter, they cause uncomfortable drafts in the room where the attic entrance is located. If the attic entrance is in a hallway, the drafts can be felt in the entire hallway and often in adjoining rooms. Typically, the attic entrance is in or near bedrooms and family rooms where the discomfort is felt the most on a daily basis. This is the main reason why space heaters are used in these areas. Space heaters are a very inefficient source of heat and a well documented safety problem.

The National Fire Protection Association compiles data from fire departments across the USA. In an NFPA report, space heaters accounted for nearly 14,000 home fires, over 19,000 injuries requiring emergency room treatment, 182 deaths and over $250 million in property damage. In the case of a home fire, the air leaks in the attic entrance serve as a chimney and make the fire spread faster.

For more information on space heaters go to: www.nfpa.org/newsReleaseDetails

The Attic Entrance Is Another Door To The Outside

Side Wall Panel Think of the attic entrance as a door that comes in various sizes to the exterior and is carefully engineered so that it closes tightly. Therefore, it stops both conductive and convective heat transfer. When closed, hot air stays out in hot weather and the warm air is kept in the house in cold weather.

Compare the front door to the attic entrance:

Push Up HatchSide Wall and Push-up Panels-
Both of these range in size from 4-10 square feet. They create holes in the insulation that are covered by a loosely fit section of drywall, plywood or a thin panel. The materials that cover the opening have almost no insulating value and air leaks that are comparable to a window that is slightly open. Both conductive and convective heat transfer occurs. Therefore, a significant amount of heat will move in the wrong direction in both hot and cold weather.


Attic Ladder- Attic Ladder These folding ladders are attached to a thin piece of plywood. The opening in the attic floor ranges from 9-12 square feet. The plywood cover has virtually no insulating value. There are air leaks on all four sides of the plywood covering as it fits loosely into the attic rough cut for the pull down ladder. Over time, gravity as well as the usage the ladder causes the plywood to warp or bend. As a result, the air leaks can be 30 square inches or more. That is comparable to a window that is open as much as 2 inches. Both conductive and convective heat transfer occurs. Therefore, more heat will move in the wrong direction in both hot and cold weather.

Attic Stairway- Attic StairwayThe stairs create the largest opening in the attic insulation that ranges from 15-30+ square feet. In addition, there is no insulation or air sealing on either side of the stairs. This creates a very large break in the thermal barrier. The specific amount will vary depending on the height of the stairs. The entry to the stairs normally has only an interior grade door. This door has virtually no insulating value and is very loosely fit. This overall environment creates air leaks that are typically comparable to a window that is open several inches. Both conductive and convective heat transfer occurs. Therefore, a great amount of heat will move in the wrong direction in both hot and cold weather.

The cost of wasted heating and cooling

Calculating the cost of this energy loss will vary based on a number of variables including geographic area of the country where the home is located, size of the home and attic, type and location of the attic entrance, age of the furnace and A/C unit, cost of heating fuel and electricity and thermostat settings. The U.S. Department of Energy has approved a limited number of software programs that take these variables into account and generate estimates of the cost.

Price of Crude The cost of energy has risen steadily for decades and is projected by experts to continue to rise in the future. The cost of fuel over the last decade more than doubled. Remember, this cost occurs every year so long as the attic entrance is left without proper remediation.

The cost of wasted energy can range from as little as $100 per year, but is often more. As the cost of heating fuel and electricity rises, the cost of the energy that is lost through the attic entrance will continue to rise.

In short, nearly all homeowners pay for The Energy Guardian® Kit every year in wasted energy costs. It makes great sense to get one so you keep that money in years to come.

The risk of mold and roof damage

Whenever hot air meets cold air, condensation can develop. In the past, there were many air leaks in an attic. Therefore, small amounts of condensation often developed in many areas. Since they were small, it was easier for the condensation to dissipate in a properly vented attic.

In homes where the other attic leaks have been eliminated, the heat transfer through the attic entrance is more concentrated. This results in more condensation which will not dissipate readily. When condensation remains in a dark area, it creates a growing environment for mold. Once mold exists, it is costly to have it properly treated by a trained expert.

The concentrated heat transfer can create roof damage during winter. In areas than receive significant snow, it can remain on the roof for extended periods of time. The heat that escapes from the living area is sufficient to melt the snow on the roof. The melted snow then flows down the roof to the gutters. Since the gutters are not heated, the melted snow then freezes. When it expands under the shingles, it causes rotting of the sub roofing and damage to the roofing.

 

The Energy Guardian® Kits Get Superior Results Because They Are Made to Higher Standards:

“As a builder for nearly 30 years, and past President for the Chester/Delaware County Home Builders Association, I am confident that I have come across almost every problem imaginable in a home and all types of solutions to those problems.

In all these years, I have never seen a more practical or effective solution than The Energy Guardian® Attic Access Covers. These products solve a big problem that exists in virtually all homes today. I can speak from experience as I have one installed in my own home.”

Art McKeown President AEM Custom Builders - Read Details

Standard- High Insulating Value

Insulation stops the conductive heat transfer and is rated according to the industry standard measure for all insulation, R-Value. The higher the number, the greater the insulating value. When evaluating any measure, one should always use reliable information. If the attic insulation you have in your home is measured in R-Value, then the insulating value of the cover over your attic entrance should be measured in the same manner.

Further, the R-Value must not be confused with “effective R-Value” claimed by some vendors relating to radiant heat transfer. Reflective materials that reduce radiant heat transfer are only valid if there is no air movement. Attics must be properly vented to have air movement or mold and rot will occur in short order. Therefore, “Effective R-Value” based on a foil to reduce radiant heat transfer is not a relevant measure to consider when evaluating kits for your attic entrance.

The Energy Guardian® Kits Insulating Value

Each kit provides an insulating value similar to the rest of your attic. The R-value below indicates the value for the lowest rated component. ESS does not include any potential insulating value derived by trapped air inside the kit.
For Horizontal Attic Entrances     R-38
For Vertical Attic Entrances         R-22
“Your kits solve this problem like no other solution that my organization has built, bought or otherwise seen available in the market”
Fran Rice, Weatherization Director.

Standard-Heavy Duty Air Seal

The air seal stops the convective heat transfer all year, drafts in cold weather and mold caused by condensation.

If the solution does not have a heavy duty air seal, it will not last long. Drafts and energy loss will return as soon as the air seal fails.

For years, the only options available were weather stripping or gaskets. While this old technology reduces air leaks, it did not provide a long term solution. For example, weather-stripping may represent a 1-5 year warranty. Check the fine print to see if it covers the adhesive that keeps the weather-stripping in place. If the adhesive is not covered, then the weather stripping can easily move. Once that occurs, the air seal is compromised.

Looking at this from a practical point of view, the attic will experience a wide range in both temperature and humidity in just one year, causing the adhesive to break down and become ineffective. Once the attic entrance is opened, it can easily move the weather stripping, rendering the air seal useless. Often, the glue holding the weather stripping in place for the air seal will simply fail without anyone entering the attic. In this case, there is no warning of the problem.

Air seals that are based on a zipper air seal face similar problems relating to ineffectiveness and lack of durability. Zippers can stick, split open or otherwise fail. Zippers also are also tedious to use for many homeowners and are often left slightly open rendering the air seal totally ineffective. Again, from a practical point of view, the zipper is not a desirable alternative.

With these inherent limitations, the industry was in need of a new design that would make a long lasting, effective air seal that was practical for easy opening and closing.

The Energy Guardian® Kits Revolutionary Air Seal

The Energy Guardian® Kits represent a breakthrough in air sealing technology. Zippers and weather-stripping are clearly distant, 2nd tier alternatives. They are displaced by the innovative design of The Energy Guardian® Kits.

The kits are composed of a lid and frame. The lid also contains a lip that allows the lid to slide into the frame. It creates an air tight seal every time simply by placing the lid of the kit into the frame. It is easy to know when the lid is put in place as you feel the air seal immediately. With this unique design, the primary air seal is extremely durable while very easy to use.

“The heavy duty air seal is a big step up from the old weather stripping we used to use. …weather stripping can’t match the one created by the lid sliding into the frame of your kits.”
Ms. Marlene Barbour Weatherization Manager - Read Details

Standard-Durable unit

To be effective, the solution must last for as long as any other attic insulation or air sealing measure. The rest of your attic insulation will likely have a 20 year warranty. That way, you can be confident that it will provide the energy saving yea after year.

The other attic insulation is rarely moved or disturbed in any way so wear and tear is not a concern. By contrast, the cover for the attic entrance must be tough enough to withstand the bumping and scraping that occurs whenever anyone goes into the attic for any reason.

It is crucial that this part of the attic thermal barrier is extremely durable. If the entire solution is not, then all the problems explained earlier immediately return including the cost of wasted heating and cooling, several degrees temperature difference, drafts, use of space heaters, etc.

If the solution partially fails, air flow between the living area and the attic will resume and can cause other problems such as mold.

The Energy Guardian® Kits

The Energy Guardian® Kits come with a 20 year warranty, because we believe it will last much longer.

“The extended warranty gives us the confidence that the improvement will last and our savings projections will be accurate. Your kits solve the problem like no other solution that my organization has built, bought or otherwise seen available.”
Fran Rice, Weatherization Director

Standard- Lightweight, easy to use components

The solution must be light enough for use by all ages. It must be easy to enter the attic and return the cover back to its air sealing position. If it is not easy to quickly re-establish the air seal, it is likely that the cover will not be used for long. Few tolerate cumbersome or time consuming measures.

The Energy Guardian® Kits-

The heaviest component is approximately 10 lb., making it easy to use by all ages. To enter the attic, simply grasp the handles and lift the lid to the side. If you are moving boxes or luggage, slide the frame out of the way too. When you leave the attic, the lid slides easily into the frame to automatically re-establish the primary air seal.

“When I close the lid into the frame, I can hear and feel the air seal… It is unmistakable. With your product, it is almost a certainty that it is always returned properly in place. You have made the solution virtually homeowner proof.”
Art McKeown President AEM Custom Builders Inc. - Read Details

Standard- Proven Solution

Homeowners should not use any unknown or otherwise risky solution. Your home and family members are too important. Any alternative considered needs to have many customers already using the kit as well as documented test results by reputable third parties.

The Energy Guardian® Kits have been installed in homes across the USA. They have been tested with Infra-red cameras, blower doors and smoke sticks.

Our customers know that they have the best, long lasting solution for their home with our kits.

“We utilize your kits for insulating and sealing both attic push up hatches and pull down adders. ..tests prove that your kits are a national breakthrough in home energy saving. We have consistently recorded 200-400 CFM50 reductions for the hatches and 600-900 CFM50 reductions for the pull down ladders. Those results are 3-5 times better than any other measure recorded for alternative measures.”
Vic Aleshire, President Comfort Company - Read Details

“As both president of this firm as well as the Vice President of our local Chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, I am always on the lookout for innovative solutions that can save energy or improve the comfort for homeowners.

The Energy Guardian® Kits are a home run as they do both. I have been in the heating and air conditioning business for 27 years and there is nothing in the market that to compare with your products. They work just as represented and are very cost effective for our homeowners.”
Rocco Pace, President Oliver Heating & Cooling - Read Details

Make sure that any solution that you consider meets all of the above criteria.
Unfortunately, there are other products or measures available that do not meet these critical criteria. It is not surprising that they fall far short of the results clients receive with our Kits. We know, because many of our customers tried them first.