Welcome to the seventh installment of “Weatherize this,” a series of posts that highlight inexpensive, easy-to-install weatherization paraphernalia designed to help you save on utility bills and minimize your household environmental impact. So far, I’ve covered caulk, door snakes, chimney balloons, window shrink wrap, foam outlet covers, and sweaters.

Today I’m featuring an item that came to mind while visiting my parents’ home this past week: an attic stair cover. My parents are increasingly making significant green steps around the house from installing CFL bulbs in light fixtures to putting a 2-liter soda bottle in a toilet tank to save water. They’re doing an awesome job. But when my mother sent me to the attic — accessible via a pull-down folding ladder in an upstairs bathroom — to fetch a box of Christmas tree ornaments on a particularly cold day, the fact that the un-insulated attic hatch is essentially a drafty, 10-foot-wide hole in the ceiling became quite clear.

Attic stair covers are essentially well-insulated lids or boxes designed to keep cold air in the winter and hot air in the summer relegated to the attic and can be either purchased or constructed yourself, if you’re so inclined.

Prices for store-bought attic stair covers vary but I’ve seen pink fiberglass versions from Owens Corning at Home Depot for $42 and recycled-content, R-50 models from Battic Door on Amazon.com for $100. I’ve also come across others like Attic Tents (that’s one pictured above) that retail for upwards of $200. So remember, there are numerous makes and models of attic hatch-insulating covers at various price points and you should perform a bit of reconnaissance work before committing to one. If your attic stairs are a noticeable source of energy loss, it may be wise to invest in a more expensive cover with a higher “R” factor.

Have you installed an attic stair cover in your home? If so, which kind? Have you noticed significant savings? 

Photo: Attic Tents

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Weatherize this: Attic stair covers
Notice a chill around the pull-down ladder leading to your attic? Insulate that giant hole in the ceiling by installing an attic stair cover for greater energy