Understanding Climate Zones and Insulation

*Our friends over at Climatizer Insulation published this interesting article we thought we’d share here!

Avid gardeners aren’t the only ones who need to know which climate zone they live in—homeowners, too, need to be aware.

It should go without saying that your home’s insulation needs will depend on the climate where your home is located. Cold climate homes, for example, will require more insulation than warm climate homes—unless, of course, you’re willing to get a little chilly. Similarly, marine climate homes will require different types of insulation than dry climate homes to better resist moisture buildup.

Understanding the difference between various climate zones and how they each affect your insulation needs can boost your home’s energy efficiency and save you money in the long run.

What are Climate Zones?

Climate zones are any classification of geographically distinct sustained weather conditions. Though various organizations have created their own classifications for climate zones, one of the most widely used classification systems is that of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Green thumbs and contractors alike pay close attention to the IECC climate zone map and its updates to ensure high performance—of perennials and insulation alike.

The IECC defines eight (8) climate zones based on average temperatures with subclassifications defined by moisture. Building America uses the IECC classifications to define its own construction climate zones—or building climate zones.

Climate Precipitation Temperature IECC Climate Zone
Hot-Humid 50cm/year or more 19.5°C or higher for 3,000 hours in 6 consecutive months


23°C or higher for 1,500 hours in 6 consecutive months

Zones 1A, 2A and 3A
Mixed-Humid 50cm/year or more ~5,400 HDD* or less or an average winter temperature of 7°C or less Zones 3A, 4A
Hot-Dry 49.9cm/year or less Monthly average of 7°C or more throughout the year Zones 2B and 3B
Mixed-Dry 50cm/year or less ~5,400 HDD or less or an average winter temperature of 7°C or less Zone 4B
Cold-Wet 50cm/year or more ~5,400 to ~9,000 HDD Zone 5A and 6A
Very Cold 50cm/year or more ~9,000 to ~12,600 HDD Zone 7A
Subarctic 50cm/year or more with greater precipitation in winter months ~12,600 HDD or more with an average summer month temperature of 22°C or more with 4 months above 10°C Zone 8

*Heating degree days (HDD) and Cooling Degree Days (CDD) are calculations used to approximate energy consumption needs, based on the average temperatures in a given climate zone relative to a predetermined base temperature, usually 18°C.

Most Canadian climate zones will fall within the IECC’s classification of Zone 7 and 8 and Building America classifications of “Very Cold” and “Subarctic”.

What Insulation Is Best for My Climate Zone?

Building techniques and materials vary from climate zone to climate zone—your home should be no exception to that rule. Using the right type of insulation for your climate will not only save you money on heating or cooling costs but will extend the useful life of your home’s insulation.

Various jurisdictions have their own building codes that will inform homebuilders and buyers on the type of insulation that is best suited to their needs. Nevertheless, it is best to consult with your contractor about creating the right building envelope—the physical barrier between the controlled, or conditioned, interior environment of a building and the exterior environment.

Ultimately, the type of insulation that will fill your walls, floors and attic is a decision that you’ll have to make with your contractor. Your contractor will know the best type of insulation for your home as well as the specific building and energy codes in your jurisdictional “climate”.

Tropical is the Best Name in Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose insulation offers various benefits in different climate zones. Whether it’s in a wet and cold climate or a dry and warm climate, cellulose insulation can help create a strong building envelope.

At Tropical Insulation, we pride ourselves on the versatility of our high-quality insulation. So, whether you’re trying to stay cool in Zone 1 or warm in Zone 8—or if you’re just trying to keep the sea breeze out of your living room in a marine climate—we can offer a solution to you.

Learn more about our products and services by clicking here or contact us today—no matter what zone you’re in.