Contributed photo HELPING NEIGHBORS – Window Dressers volunteers in Dexter during the 2019 (pre-COVID) Community Build event.

Before temperatures warm and the pain of winter fuel costs is forgotten, local Window Dressers volunteers want to measure your windows for warmer, less expensive winters to come.

Window Dressers is a statewide, nonprofit, volunteer program that builds interior, insulating window inserts to help cut drafts and fuel costs. Windows are available for purchase by anyone, and at no cost or a reduced cost for those facing financial challenges. 

The local group, under the leadership of The Commons Energy Collaborative, is eager to get measurements done and orders taken for as many people as possible so that materials can be ordered well in advance of the Community Build events, scheduled for Oct. 21-28. 

“We have a sample window which we take into homes when we take individual window measurements and tell homeowners if they will benefit from the inserts or not,” explained Dr. Lesley Fernow, organizer and volunteer for the local Window Dressers effort. “Many local churches, libraries and public buildings have saved lots of money for heating their buildings with these inserts. They can also be used in apartments, and in some trailers.” 

The Commons Energy Collaborative has received a $3,018 grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, a philanthropic organization whose mission is to energize and nurture long-term civic engagement in local initiatives that create and maintain healthy, just, safe and environmentally sustainable communities throughout the six New England states. The funds will support not only the low-income window insert program, but also climate consciousness conversations in the community. The Commons Energy Collaborative is a local grassroots community collaborative whose purpose is to use local, practical, solutions to improve the health, well-being and sustainability of the community while building climate consciousness and community bonds.

Volunteers for the Window Dressers program are also being sought. The barn-raising-style work sessions are a great way to build community, as well as window inserts, Fernow said. “What we hear from people is it’s a great way to meet people. If you feel like helping your community and your neighbors, it’s very rewarding, and four hours goes by in a flash!”

People with some carpentry experience are sought during the first three days of the Community Build, when the wooden frames are being assembled. The group is also seeking a new construction manager, since the original local construction manager, Steve Jackson, is stepping back. Once the frames are constructed, they are shrink-wrapped with plastic, which doesn’t require construction skills. There are also non-build jobs for anyone who would like to help, including coordinating volunteers, hanging up posters and bringing food for the work crews. 

Because many window inserts are custom sizes, prices vary and are calculated at the time of measure. In general, a 20-inch by 36-inch unfinished pine insert costs about $30, while a 44-inch by 68-inch insert costs about $55. “We don’t require proof of low-income,” said Fernow, adding that for those paying full price, “the inserts are still a bargain. Replacement windows can cost hundreds of dollars, plus the labor charges.”  

In a practical sense, these inserts reduce heat loss, reduce fuel costs, decrease the feeling of a draft through windows, and reduce [street] sounds especially on busy streets. Because most people use fossil fuels or wood for heating, the other benefit is a climate benefit of reduced CO2 emissions.

For more information about volunteering or having your home windows evaluated, call Window Dressers at 207-596-3073 or Fernow at 207-992-6822. For more information about the statewide Window Dressers program, visit