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Free and low-cost window inserts keep Mainers warm during the winter season

AmeriCorps volunteers help low-income families heat their homes by building high-quality window inserts that can save them up to 30% of their energy bills.

BANGOR, Maine — Keeping your house warm during these cold months can be a hardship for many families. So AmeriCorps volunteers make window inserts from scratch for many low-income families in Maine, offering significant savings towards their heating bills.

It's a heat-saving solution that starts from scratch, Americorp volunteers build these window inserts for lower-income families across the state.

The window inserts are made out of a thick layer of plastic stretched over wooden frames. Volunteers first go to the chosen homes and measure the windows. When finished, these fit inside your windows sealing them and keeping much of the cold air from entering your home.

"WindowDressers" sends the wood, they assemble the frames according to the recorded measures, add layers of plastic, heat it to tighten it up, and finally add a layer of foam to make them fit tightly.

They can reduce your heating bill by as much as a third.

"To help out with their energy bills and their energy usage in their homes," Erin Ferrell, AmeriCorps Bangor Coordinator said. 

Laurie Babb is one of the many homeowners benefiting from the project this year.

"But this with the foam it fits perfectly and nothing is getting in! That is going to save on my electricity, my heating, I don't have to worry about pipes freezing, it's a win-win situation," Babb said.

This is largely possible because of the volunteers that dedicate their time to making these window inserts for others, many of the people that once benefited from the inserts now go and volunteer to help others.

"You don't have to run your heat as often and they really do work very well," said Kiera Luu a sophomore at UMaine and a second-year volunteer.

This year just in the greater Bangor area, volunteers built 225 window inserts for 25 homes, and half of those will be given out for free. To qualify for free window inserts you have to receive any state or financial assistance. You could also purchase them at a low cost.

An insert typically costs $30 to $40 and will save about 15 gallons of heating oil per heating season.

"You can save up to like a third of your annual bill using these," Luu said.

They can be used year after year for up to 10 years.

"I'm just so happy because it's going to be warmer out there now," Babb said.

If you need window inserts, AmeriCorps volunteers will meet in several locations across Maine next year to build them for their community members.

Email info@windowdressers.org for more information. 

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