R-Value for Northern Climates

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 by Chelsea Bowen

Blown-in insulation is great to boost your attic's r-value

It’s here. Consistent single-digit and below-zero weather makes even the hardiest Minnesotan or Wisconsinite question “how do we do it each winter?” At this point in the season, many homeowners are noticing cold floors, drafty rooms, and high energy bills. These are unfortunately symptoms of insufficient or failing insulation. But what can you do about it? What’s the best solution for improving your home’s comfort?

In this blog, we will breakdown the concept of R-value and what it means for homes and cabins in our region.

R-Value is about Resistance
Put simply, R-value measures resistance, or the ability an insulation has to stop heat from escaping from your home. The higher the R-Value, the stronger the thermal barrier. R-Value is measured per inch of insulation and varies depending on the density and thickness of the material. Porous fiberglass has a lower R-value than a dense, rigid foam insulation. Again, the greater the R-value, the better your insulation is at resisting heat traveling through it.

Energy R-Value Climate Zone map

This climate map from provides a recommendation for R-value according to region. The DBS service area is located in zone 7 and spans from Eau Claire to Ashland in Wisconsin and from Grand Marais to St. Cloud in Minnesota. Not surprisingly, we need insulation with a higher R-value, in the 30-60 range, depending upon a few factors. We will illustrate this point by looking at an example from Embarrass, MN in St. Louis County.

Embarrass, MN boasts the coldest temperatures in the state of Minnesota. Nicknamed “The Cold Spot,” its average temperature year-round is a whopping 34.4 °F/1.3 °C. If you live in Embarrass, MN you need to look at insulation in a couple areas.

First, Attic Insulation
Is it insulated already? Consulting the chart above, partially-insulated attics need insulation with an R-value of at least 38-49. No attic insulation means you should add insulation of an R-value of from 39-60, probably towards the higher end in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Next, Your Basement or Crawl Space
Uninsulated rim joists and basement walls allow cold air to leak into your home. Our chart shows that home and cabin owners should aim for an R-value of 25-30 in these areas.

What to do next? Consult Dr. Energy Saver® from DBS! 
Our team installs a variety of systems to help home and cabin owners in our northern climate. For attics, we offer spray foam insulation, air sealing, blown-in cellulose, and rigid foam insulation, depending on the structure or your roof. Our SuperAttic system is great to completely seal garage and attic spaces with HVAC systems, finished floors, storage space, and it prevents ice damming. We also provide garage insulation, crawl space insulation, and wall insulation.

Interested in lowering your heating bills and increasing your comfort? Call 1-218-525-0720 today or click here to schedule a free, no-obligation estimate with one our our Dr. Energy Saver® Design Specialists.

our service area

We serve the following areas

  • Abbotsford
  • Augusta
  • Boyd
  • Brantwood
  • Cadott
  • Catawba
  • Chili
  • Colby
  • Curtiss
  • Dorchester
  • Fairchild
  • Fall Creek
  • Fifield
  • Gilman
  • Granton
  • Greenwood
  • Humbird
  • Kennan
  • Loyal
  • Lublin
  • Medford
  • Mercer
  • Neillsville
  • Ogema
  • Osseo
  • Owen
  • Park Falls
  • Phillips
  • Prentice
  • Rib Lake
  • Sheldon
  • Stanley
  • Stetsonville
  • Strum
  • Thorp
  • Westboro
  • Willard
  • Withee
  • Brownsville
  • Caledonia
  • Canton
  • Dakota
  • Eitzen
  • Hokah
  • Houston
  • La Crescent
  • Mabel
  • Rushford
  • Spring Grove
  • Winona
Our Locations:

5116 Jean Duluth Road Suite 300
Duluth, MN 55803

1584 93rd Ln NE
Blaine, MN 55449
DBS service area