We’re all looking for ways to increase energy efficiency in our homes. Energy efficient products help us save money and help to save the planet at the same time.
When you think energy efficient products, you usually think of double paned windows and compact fluorescent light bulbs. It’s unlikely that you consider your loft ladder and hatch when you think of ways to save energy.
But, if your access to your attic leaks air through the hatch that contains the loft ladder, your heating and cooling bills can really increase. That’s why it’s so important that your loft ladder is fitted perfectly. Regardless of the actual ladder and hatch you choose, the proper fit is what creates energy efficiency.
Loft ladders fitted properly create a tight seal between the attic or loft and the main level of the home. This prevents the air from the attic from escaping into the main level of your home, preventing your heating and cooling systems from working overtime. According to the US Department of Energy, a 1/4-inch gap around the perimeter of an attic access can potentially leak the same amount of air supplied by a typical bedroom heating duct.
Don’t Hesitate to Hire a Professional
While installing a loft ladder and hatch is a do it yourself job for many people, it is important that the job be done right, both from a safety and an energy efficiency standpoint. If you’re unsure as to whether you can install the loft ladder and hatch properly yourself, hire a good handy man to do the job for you. It’s ok to admit that a loft ladder fitted by a professional will likely have a tighter seal. And, over time, you’ll save the money you spent on the handy man in lower energy costs.
Examples of insulation methods:
Ensuring a Proper Fit
So, just how do you ensure that your loft ladder is fitted properly? Here are some tips to help you during your installation if you decide to install it yourself.
First, it’s important to ensure that your hatch door fits appropriately. Ensure that you’ve ordered the proper sized ladder and hatch from the manufacturer. The hole where the hatch fits should not be cut any larger than is necessary to fit in the hatch and door.
If you find that the rough opening is a bit larger than the hatch you’re installing, you’ll want to seal the area between the frame of the hatch and the rough opening. Depending upon the size of the opening, you can use caulk, backer board, or a piece of foam to close the gap.
Install the hatch trim tightly to the ceiling so that there are no gaps. Ensure that the hatch door closes completely. This will test to see if your loft ladder is fitted perfectly.
For additional assurance that your loft access area does not have an air leak, install weather stripping either on the hatch itself or on the inside of the trim where the hatch rests. You can then add a latch bolt, if you desire, to create an even tighter seal ensuring that your loft ladder is fitted securely.
For even more energy efficiency, add insulation to the area around the hatch on the attic side. Determine the proper R-value of insulation for your home’s area of the country, and add three or four inches of the proper insulation. If you will be flooring and finishing your attic, add the insulation before adding the flooring.
With these additional steps, not only will your loft ladder be fitted perfectly, but you’ll have a tight seal that will prevent air leaks in the summer and the winter months.