Window inserts offer available for residents

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro and area residents tired of drafty windows or interested in lower fuel bills – or both – are invited to sign up for energy-saving, draft-blocking window inserts provided through a Vassalboro organization.

Leaders of FAVOR (Friends Advocating for Vassalboro Older Residents) decided at an Oct. 11 meeting they will enroll with Window Dressers, a Rockland-based non-profit organization. The organization helps local residents build and install custom-fitted window inserts, clear plastic with wooden frames, to add a layer of insulation.

FAVOR’s primary target is Vassalboro residents, but people in nearby towns are welcome to join. The program offers financial assistance to low-income homeowners and tenants, but is not a welfare program — any homeowner, any renter who pays his or her own fuel bills or any landlord who pays tenants’ fuel bills is welcome.

Churches and businesses are also eligible for the program, Window Dressers representative Laura Seaton said at the Oct. 11 meeting.

Those interested need to get in touch with Town Manager Mary Sabins, who volunteered to be the local program coordinator, by Wednesday, Nov. 8, at the latest. The date was chosen to give people one more chance to learn about Window Dressers at the polls on Nov. 7.

The other volunteers needed are a volunteer coordinator to work on scheduling and related issues; two two-person measuring teams who will go to houses and apartments and measure windows, starting with initial sign-ups and continuing through mid-November; and many more people to put the inserts together at in-town workshops scheduled to start Friday, Dec. 15, and continue through the weekend and if necessary into the next week.

Seaton said people from Window Dressers will train the Vassalboro measuring teams, who will use laser measuring tools (borrowed from Window Dressers) and enter results into a computer. Once Rockland headquarters people get Vassalboro’s list of windows, they cut the wooden frames to size and may, depending on the size of the order, put them together.

Just before Dec. 15 someone from Vassalboro brings the pre-cut wood and other materials to Vassalboro for a community build, the name given to the assembly process. Seaton said usually the transporter rents a U-Haul van, for which Window Dressers pays. Volunteers, including but not limited to people getting inserts, put the frames together if necessary, stretch the plastic tightly over them and add an outside foam gasket that makes them fit snugly.

The place for the December community build is not firm. Sabins said possibilities include a room in Ray Breton’s mill in North Vassalboro, the East Vassalboro Grange Hall or the town office meeting room.

The volunteer assemblers usually work four-hour shifts with a meal break. The not-yet-named volunteer coordinator is responsible for scheduling and for soliciting donated food.

Seaton said residents usually prioritize windows, doing north and west ones, for example. The inserts are removable and reusable. Vassalboro resident Holly Weidner, who participated in a build some years ago, said the inserts are so clear that she leaves some in year-round.

The price of a window insert varies with the choice of finish, pine or white-painted, and with the size of each window. Seaton estimated eight feet as the maximum length or width available.

She said this year Window Dressers has led 27 community builds and provided between 5,000 and 6,000 inserts.

In addition to making houses more comfortable, Seaton said a study by University of Maine at Orono economists and customer feedback find an average 20 percent reduction in fuel use.

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