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Using Attic Stair Covers to Reduce Energy Loss at Home

Attic Stair Covers
Attic Stair Covers

Have you ever had to put on a winter jacket while cleaning out your attic, or have you experienced the other extreme and worn only essential clothing items just to avoid getting a heatstroke up there? Inconsistent temperatures in the attic stem from major gaps in insulation, and that often leads to having less control over temperatures in the living space. One of the simplest ways to prevent the environment in your attic from negatively impacting the living area is to invest in attic stair covers, which block air from leaking out of and into your attic.

The 3 Ways to Cover Attic Stairs

Three types of covers that help protect the airflow on attic stairs include Attic Tent, ThermaDome Cover, and McCoy LadderMate. When choosing between these attic stair covers, keep in mind the R-value (the measure of how well it insulates), size, and material the cover is made of and how these factors work with your attic stairs.

Attic Tent

The name is a perfect reflection of its functionality: Attic Tent. Installed above the attic door (on the inside of the attic), it works as a cover, or tent, and is versatile enough to insulate attic doors, folding attic stairs, knee doors, and scuttle holes. Attic Tent is super easy to install and can cut down air transfer to/from your attic by up to 71% .

  • R-Value: 3.2
  • Sizes (measured in inches): 22 x 54 x 7, 22 x 54 x 13, 25 x 54 x13, 30 x 60 x13
  • Material: Made from high tech, fire retardant, cloth-like material

Therma-Dome Cover

Therma-Dome Covers are lightweight lids for folding attic stair doors (they also work on the inside of the attic), and provide strong insulation. More steps and tools are needed to install Therma-Dome than used for Attic Tent, but the extra work also leads to faster results on your energy bills.

  • R-Value: 13
  • Sizes (measured in inches): Inside 27 x 57, and 10.5 in. deep, made to fit all attic stair sizes
  • Material: 1 1/2″ of polyisocyanurate board foam that is sandwiched between laminated foil

McCoy LadderMate

The LadderMate works to insulate the attic ladder door and the opening. The McCoy Laddermate is heavier than the Tent and Dome, but it allows for easier access to the attic via a 30 in. push/pull rod. It takes mere minutes to install this attic cover, and it doesn’t need any additional trim around the opening.

  • R-Value: 10
  • Sizes (measured in inches): 22.5 x 48, 22.5 x 54, 25 x 48, and 25 x 54 (one model will cover all four sizes)
  • Material: 2 in. foam insulation and weatherstrip gasket

Drafty homes are uncomfortable to live in and can be a bigger drag on your finances than you may realize. By installing attic stair covers and properly insulating your home in other open areas, you gain consistent heating/cooling throughout the house while earning a boost in energy savings and reducing energy costs.

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Installing an Attic Tent to Reduce Energy Loss at Home

Attic Door Insulation Cover
Attic Tent

How often would you like the air from the attic to mix with the air in the living area of your home? Unless your attic is properly ventilated and insulated, the answer is probably never, right? Insulating the entire attic can be a time-consuming and costly project. If it is one that is not within your budget this summer, installing an attic tent will help you reduce unwanted air exchanges and energy waste experienced at home without breaking the bank. Once you have chosen the right size attic door insulation cover, it can be installed in a matter of minutes.

Choosing the Right Size

We’re all guilty of purchasing a new outfit only to realize it may be a size too big or too small. That could have been avoided by trying it on first, right? Apply this same concept to choosing your attic tent. Before purchasing one, make sure you know what size you should be looking for. Measure the width, length, and height of the attic door way when folded. The average attic door size would use the AT-2 model, which measures 25″x54″x7″. If the attic ladder side rail is made with a 1×4, a height of 7″ is necessary. If the side rails are made with a 1×5 or 1×6, a height of 13″ is required.


An attic door insulation cover can be installed over attic stairs, knee wall doors, and over an attic scuttle hole. The installation method depends on which of these applications you will be using the attic insulation for:

A) Attic Stairs

  1. At the end of the attic stair box, place the attic tent. The zipper heads should be hinged at the end.
  2. On all four sides, staple the rough frame to the mounting hinge (staple about every 2-3 inches along).
  3. Use a bead of caulk to seal any air leaks between the rough frame and mounting flange.

B) Knee Wall Door

  1. The attic tent should be vertically aligned to the back of the door frame. Make sure the zipper end is down.
  2. To attach to the floor, fold the flange under the zipper side.
  3. On the attic side, staple around the door frame, and use a bead of caulk for sealing.

C) Attic Scuttle Hole

  1. Use a piece of 1/2 inch plywood, for example measuring 24″x35″ to be attached along the attic floor joist and the connecting side of the access hole.
  2. Seal other adjoining areas to allow the tent to have the required mounting surface.
  3. Placing the zippers close to the access, position the insulation cover over the scuttle hole.
  4. Staple the flange of the tent around the plywood and access frame.
  5. As with the other applications, apply a bead of caulk for a tighter seal.

With a little time and the right tools, you can begin to reduce energy loss and protect the home from the harsher temperatures of the attic during extreme weather months. The added insulation provided by an attic tent will not only allow you to gain more control over the temperature indoors, but it will reduce energy bills by up to $170 each year it is left in place.






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Comparing 2 Part Spray Foam to 1 Component Spray Foam

Types of Spray Foam Insulation
Types of Spray Foam Insulation

As the season of extreme temperatures gets closer, have you given any consideration as to how you can regulate the cost of energy? Applying spray foam insulation in the rooms that are poorly insulated, such as the basement, garage, and attic, dramatically reduces energy loss as well as the cost of energy. There are two different types of spray foam insulation that are ideal for different situations: 1 component spray foam, and 2 part spray foam. Having knowledge of the type of insulation you need helps speed up the process of sealing these costly air leaks.

1 Component Spray Foam

  • Expansion Amount: 10% when applied at 1/2” thickness
  • Curing time: 20 minutes
  • R-Value: 5.4 (per inch)
  • Amount of tanks: 1

As a result of this being a low expansion foam, 1 component spray foam is commonly used to seal air leaks around doors, windows, HVAC and electrical penetrations, plumbing, and other small-sized areas where leaks occur. The foam should be kept at room temperature. It cures when exposed to moisture, so if you are going to use this insulation on a cold or dry day, be sure to use a spritzer to assist with the curing process.

2 Part Spray Foam

  • Expansion Amount: 30 times when applied at 1” thickness
  • Curing Time: Within 1 minute
  • R-Value: 7.12 per inch
  • Amount of tanks: 2

The high expansion 2 part spray foam is used to seal large-scale air leaks. It is commonly used to insulate walls, floors, and ceilings. This type of insulation has a higher R-value than 1 component spray foam, making it a more effective insulator. As with 1 part foam, the two tanks should be left at room temperature. Also note that the tanks are of different consistencies, and one tank needs to be warmed up to match the consistency of the other once you are ready for application.

Both 1 component spray foam and 2 part spray foam are closed cell, meaning the cells in the foam are packed closely together, instead of loosely. This provides the foam with strength and enables it to be water resistant, although not waterproof. All instructions regarding safety and application should be followed carefully. Regardless of the type that is necessary for your home, spray foam insulation seals air leaks and continues to save money on energy bills long after it has been used.

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Closed Cell Foam Vs. Open Cell Foam: What’s The Difference?

Touch N Seal Foam
Touch N Seal Foam

Applying spray foam insulation to ceilings and walls is one of the best ways to insulate the rooms that act as a passageway for drafts and outside air during extreme weather months; rooms such as the attic and basement. Sealing up the cracks and gaps in these rooms with spray foam insulation helps reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool the home, as well as the amount of money spent on doing so. Closed cell and open cell Touch N Seal foam are two types of spray foam insulation that can be used for insulating these rooms.

Closed cell Touch N Seal foam gets its name because the foam cells are packed together and closed. The strength and density of this foam allow it to be resistant to water absorption. Additional important details about closed cell foam include:

  • Expansion: up to 30 times when applied at 1” thick
  • Density: 1.75 +/- 0.2 pounds per cubic feet
  • R-Value: 7.12 per inch

In contrast, the cells in open cell foam are not closed completely or packed close together, and this type of foam readily absorbs water. Keep in mind these important details about open cell foam when deciding which type you need:

  • Expansion: 100 times the liquid volume
  • Density: 0.4 to 0.5 pounds per cubic feet
  • R-Value: 3.5 per inch

Closed cell and open cell Touch N Seal foam are different in a number of ways. While open cell foam typically costs less, the strength, density, and higher R-Value of closed cell foam makes it the more advantageous of the two.


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How to Install Outlet Insulation in Your Home or Building

Electrical outlets located on exterior walls can act as a gateway for air leaks and energy loss. In fact, this source is responsible for approximately five percent of all energy loss experienced in the average home. Insulation for this area is useful throughout the year. Installing outlet insulation prevents cold air from coming in during winter, and cool air from leaving during summer. Installing insulation for outlets is a simple task that can be completed in a few steps.

Outlet Insulation
Outlet Insulation

In order to install foam insulation without exchanging the original wall plate:

  1. Use a screwdriver, remove the existing outlet plate.
  2. Place the insulating foam gasket behind the wall plate cover.
  3. Place the newly insulated cover back over the outlet.

In order to install outlet insulation that comes with the wall plate:

  1. Remove the existing wall plate using a screwdriver.
  2. Place the outlet cover with the foam gasket already installed over the electrical outlet.

The type of outlet insulation required depends on where it needs to be installed. For single outlets, wall switches, and single decora-style (rocker) switches, the standard foam insulation can be used. For double, triple, or quad outlet and switch sources, the wall plates that come with the foam gaskets pre-installed may be a better option. If you would prefer to not have to get a new wall plate, simply cut the standard foam gaskets into the shape that you need.

Using electrical outlet insulation will effectively seal off air leaks from this area. Insulation can be installed in less than five minutes, and can reduce the amount of energy and heat loss by five percent. For even more detail, check out the video below to see exactly how to install switch gaskets.

Switch Gaskets

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The Smoke Pencil is a Non-Hazardous Way to Detect Leaks

Smoke Pencil
Smoke Pencil

Air is leaking into and out of a home throughout the day if the home is not properly insulated. Knowing where to apply insulation can become tricky of you aren’t sure where the most air leaks are occurring. While some drafts can be detected by placing a hand to the corner of a window or to the front of an electrical outlet plate, others are a bit more difficult to find. These problem areas are often responsible for a significant amount of energy waste as well as hundreds of wasted dollars in energy costs every year.  Using a smoke pencil to find these air leaks is a simple and safe way to start solving this problem.

Knowing where air leaks are occurring is the first step to reducing the effect air leaks have on energy consumption and costs. A smoke pencil is a battery-operated tool that is used to reveal these leaks. The smoke it creates reveals the movement of air in a specific area, and the quantity of smoke released can be controlled using the multi-function trigger on the tool. It is pocket-sized and can be locked, allowing for use in tight areas and easy storage.

At this point, you are probably wondering how a tool that creates smoke could possibly be safe to use. Typically, draft detectors use harmful chemicals or flammables in order to operate. The smoke pencil differs in that it uses a non-toxic fluid to create the smoke that reveals drafty areas. The fluid contains only water solution vapor, Glycerin, and a sweet smelling Glycol. This makes operating it much safer than would be with another smoke tool. In addition, it can be flown on a plane if you need to travel for a job, or shipped without problem.

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Weatherization Kit: Easy Way to Seal Drafts

Weatherization Kit
Weatherization Kit

Weatherproofing the home is not as difficult as some might believe. You don’t have to tear your home apart or spend thousands on professional in order to fix some existing problems. Reducing the amount of drafts that come into your home can be done with a few simple items and about an hour to spare. The items in a weatherization kit make sealing drafts simple, quick, and cost-effective.

A weatherization kit is filled with items that make it harder for the cold air to come in, and the warm air to go out.

  • Shrink & Seal Window Kit – Place the plastic from this kit over the windows, smoothing out any wrinkles by passing a hair dryer over it, and it keeps the cold air from coming through the window.
  • Replaceable Cord Weatherstrip – Also used for windows, caulking rope is applied around the edges of windows, to cover the cracks and gaps that can’t be reached with a caulking gun or tube. Insulating windows can reduce energy loss by 10 to 25 percent in the average home.
  • M-D High Density Foam Tape 02253 – The closed cell foam tape reduces air infiltration from doors (and window sashes). Apply it to the clean, dry surface of door jambs, and cut off any excess. Doors make up as much as 11 percent of all heat loss in a home. Air easily slips in and out through doors that are not properly insulated.
  • Foam Outlet and Switch Gaskets – These handy little tools are placed behind the plate covers of electrical outlets and switches that are located on exterior walls. Stopping air from escaping here eliminates about 5 percent of total home energy loss.

All of the items in a weatherization kit are low-cost, making the kit itself a low-cost investment. It is available for about $11, and pays for itself easily with the amount of energy that is saved during winter.

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Using a Smoke Puffer to Identify Air Leaks

In most homes, drafts and air leaks can be easily detected by placing your hand to a window or electrical outlet located on an exterior wall. Other air leaks, however, are not as easily detected. These hidden leaks are costing the average homeowner hundreds of dollars every year in heating and cooling. A smoke puffer provides a simple way to identify air leaks and drafty spots in the home that are not so easily detected.

Smoke Pencil
Smoke Puffer

Also referred to as a smoke pencil, a smoke puffer uses batteries and fluid to point out where air is leaking out of a building. Installing and using this tool can be done in a few simple steps:

  1. Lay the tool on its side and fill the tank with the smoke fluid.
  2. Gently hold the vapor/power trigger for 6-9 seconds, allowing the vapor to warm up.
  3. Once the LED power light glows, press the vapor/power lever more firmly.
  4. Use the trigger on the smoke puffer to control the amount of time the vapor is dispensed; increasing the pressure applied to the trigger increases the vapor stream.
  5. See how air is moving the smoke to discover where the most air is leaking out of the home.

In addition to ease of use, the smoke pencil is ideal for identifying air leaks for a number of reasons. It is lightweight and pocket-sized for easy storage. Also, the fluid contains harmless glycerin and water vapor, instead of toxic chemicals. As a result, it poses no threat to an individual using it, or others in the area. Discovering where air is leaking out of the home is the first step to reducing this type of energy loss as well as the amount of money it is costing every year.

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Insulating with Q-Lon Weatherstripping Prevents Drafts from Doors

Did you know that air can easily escape in and out of the home through exterior doors whether or not they are open? This is because there are a number of cracks and gaps located between the door and the outside area. These holes are small, yet large enough to impact the level of home comfort, as well as the amount of money spent on heating every winter. Installing q-lon weatherstripping for doors will eliminate this unwanted air infiltration as well as the effect it has on energy bills.

Q-Lon Weatherstripping
Q-Lon Weatherstripping

Q-Lon is made up of a carrier that has polyethylene-clad urethane foam securely attached. Carriers come in PVC (vinyl), aluminum (metal), and wood to provide insulation for a variety of doors. The foam is UV stabilized, allowing it to remain flexible at temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. This form of door insulation is long lasting, as it does not splinter, rot, distort, or absorb water.

The q-lon weatherstripping is light-weight, and easy to install. Simply attach the PVC carrier to the frame of the door in a way in which the foam gasket pushes up against the door when the door is closed. Then, nail it in using the nails that come with the q-lon kit. If necessary, it can be cut to fit a smaller door opening. Q-lon weatherstripping seals 1/2-inch gaps, and works as both weatherstripping and a doorstop.

Approximately 11 percent of all energy loss in the average home occurs through exterior doors. Limiting the amount of unwanted air exchanges that occur through doors reduces not only energy loss, but also the costs of heating during winter, as you will have more control over the temperature in the home. The weatherstripping pays for itself with the amount of savings accumulated, and continues to save you money on energy bills long after.

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Foam Door Sweeps for Exterior Doors Make Insulating Simple

door sweeps for exterior doorsSome consider insulating to be difficult work, a task to be left for the pros. Others consider insulating to be an option available only to homeowners, not renters. These both couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are many simple solutions to drafts in the home. One of the easiest places to insulate is the door. The door lets air into the home and sucks air out whether it is left wide open, or locked tightly. Door foam sweeps for exterior doors help eliminate this problem with little effort on your part.

Sometimes referred to as a door draft seal, this type of insulation can be installed in three simple steps, and stays in place, gliding with the door:

  1. With a pair of scissors, cut the foam tubes to the desired length
  2. Place each foam tube into a fabric sleeve
  3. Slide the insulator under the door

There are many benefits to this form of door insulation. Once this has been installed, there will be a reduction in the amount of unwanted air exchanges that occur through the doors, leading to a reduction in energy costs. In addition to being simple to install, it can be removed easily by sliding it from beneath the door, and is machine washable. The door draft seal can be installed over linoleum, wood, carpet, or tile. For all of these reasons, foam door sweeps for exterior doors are ideal for any homes that need insulation at the door.