Energize Vermont Collaborates with WindowDressers and Town Energy Committees to Warm Up Vermont Homes

East Burke, Vt.--Energize Vermont will collaborate with town energy committees from Glover, Craftsbury, Greensboro, Montpelier, Thetford, and Strafford, as well as Transition Town Charlotte, to outfit Vermont homes with energy-saving window inserts. The good-looking, custom-fit inserts from WindowDressers, a Maine-based nonprofit, consist of plastic film stretched over wooden frames and are assembled by volunteers at community workshops.

The inserts work like storm windows, but they are much less expensive and far easier to install and remove.  They fit on the inside of an existing window, adding two insulating spaces. A foam gasket around the perimeter provides a tight seal against drafts and holds the insert in place without fasteners. A window insert can save as much as one gallon of heating fuel per square foot of window per heating season. The price of a 30” x 60” insert will be about $42, and special pricing will be available to low-income residents.

The success of a January 2019 26-home pilot workshop conducted by the Glover Energy Committee encouraged WindowDressers, the Glover committee, and Energize Vermont to expand the collaboration to include six more Vermont towns for 2019-2020.  At Glover’s workshop, 32 volunteers produced 160 window inserts for 26 homes with materials supplied by WindowDressers—just in time to protect Glover homes during a near-record cold snap.

“The Glover Energy Committee was looking for a practical way to save energy and contribute to the winter comfort of Glover residents,” said Energy Committee member Jack Sumberg. “Judith Jackson of Energize Vermont brought the WindowDressers program to our attention and we were pleased to be the first town in Vermont to tackle a WindowDressers workshop. The positive response to our pilot effort convinced us to consider expanding the project to other interested Vermont towns.”

The effort will have technical and material support from Maine’s non-profit WindowDressers, which developed the community approach to energy savings. Over the past eight years, WindowDressers has conducted over 106 workshops in Maine. The workshops have engaged thousands of community volunteers, produced over 34,000 window inserts, and saved Maine residents an estimated 1.2 million gallons of heating fuel.

“When we learned how Maine’s WindowDressers project brings community members together to make local homes more energy efficient, we were eager to explore how it might work for Vermonters,” said Energize Vermont’s Jackson. “Energy conservation and support for strong communities are key goals for Energize Vermont, so this project feels like a natural fit. We were delighted when Glover’s Energy Committee agreed to undertake a pilot effort.”

 In collaboration with WindowDressers and town energy committees, Energize Vermont hopes to adapt the WindowDressers' program for Vermont and establish an all-Vermont enterprise, ultimately with locally sourced pine, processed in Vermont sawmills.

“Efforts to address energy and climate issues work best when they arise from the local, grassroots level,” said Energize Vermont Director Mark Whitworth.  “They give communities a real stake in the outcome.”

The committees in the seven towns are conducting outreach now and interested residents may request a visit from the committees’ window measurement teams. Each committee will seek volunteers from the community to participate in workshops to assemble the inserts in the fall.

Town energy committees or other community groups that are interested in learning more about WindowDressers Community Workshops may contact Judith Jackson at Judith@EnergizeVermont.org , Mark Whitworth at Mark@EnergizeVermont.org, Jack Sumberg at jack.sumberg@gmail.com, or Laura Seaton at director@WindowDressers.org.

Mark Whitworth