Since September 2019 Americorps Energy Efficiency Coordinator Molly Agrimson has been coordinating a project to help reduce heating needs, and thus CO2 emissions in York County, by providing insulating window inserts to area residents. Through funding from Window Dressers, York Energy Steering Committee, York Community Services Associations and Efficiency Maine, Molly has been able to focus 75% of the program on providing window inserts at no cost to residents with low income. The other 25% effort has gone to other customers at the full price. Altogether, volunteers built 180 window inserts for 21 York County homes.
In planning for the window build event, Molly recruited volunteers through Facebook and other social media postings, flyers around town and mass emails to local organizations. Individuals receiving the window inserts were asked to volunteer as well. Over the course of five days, with two 5-hour working shifts per day, there were approximately 120 volunteers. Businesses and organizations were generous as well: Hannaford Supermarket, York54, Anthony’s Food Shop, and York Hospital donated food for volunteers. York County Community Services offered their van to transport equipment and materials from Rockland, Maine. The build event was held at St. Christopher’s Catholic Church and York Land Trust assisted by storing materials.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “nearly a third of U.S. households struggle to afford their energy bills, with one in five cutting back on or forgoing necessities such as food or medicine to pay for electricity and heat.” Since economically disadvantaged populations have been generally disregarded during the climate crisis, it is important for this project to benefit all in the community. Even for paying customers, however, the insert-cost is about 50% to 75% cheaper than commercial products and lasts for five to ten years. According to the nonprofit organization Window Dressers, “in a typical house, 10 inserts save an average of 195 gallons of heating fuel every year for an estimated savings of $270 per year. The inserts generally pay for themselves in less than two heating seasons.”
In the first two months, Molly spread the word about the project and sought out eligible residents by tabling at food pantries, churches, and local events. By mid-October, she was measuring the windows of people’s homes with the assistance of YRF100% volunteers.
Molly will be leaving York after her completed year as an AmeriCorps volunteer. But she managed a successful event focused on environmental justice, so we hope to offer the same project again next year. We are seeking a new coordinator for this project, so anyone interested should contact the Window Dressers nonprofit organization at windowdressers.org.