Efficiency Maine Partners with Maine Campus Compact to Weatherize Low-Income Homes
Since 2017, Efficiency Maine has partnered with Maine Campus Compact (MCC) to support energy-saving upgrades in low-income homes. MCC stations AmeriCorps service members at six college campuses through its Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship (MPES). The volunteers work as energy efficiency coordinators, identifying low-income households while driving efforts to weatherize those homes.
Under this initiative, Efficiency Maine provides funding for window-insulating inserts and trains the AmeriCorps volunteers to install free LED light bulbs, faucet aerators, and energy-saving shower heads in eligible homes. When AmeriCorps volunteers visit homes to measure windows for insulating inserts, they record the number of bulbs, aerators, and showerheads needed in the home. Efficiency Maine then ships those requested measures directly to the home for installation by the AmeriCorps volunteers or the residents themselves. LED bulbs and aerators, in particular, are easy and quick for residents to install without any prior experience. Another value of the collaboration between Efficiency Maine and AmeriCorps is the assistance of the volunteers to disseminate information about energy efficiency and Efficiency Maine’s residential programs in rural areas.
In addition to working with Efficiency Maine, MCC collaborates with WindowDressers, a Rockland-based nonprofit that helps Mainers build low-cost, window-insulating inserts for their homes. As part of this project, WindowDressers encourages residents who take advantage of the program to attend workshops to help build inserts for other households. Low-income households qualify for up to ten inserts per year free of charge, and, in return, those homeowners are asked to participate in these community builds.
Window inserts can be a simple, low-cost way to help Mainers get through long, cold winters. Efficiency Maine provides low-cost energy-saving products and commits a one-to-one match for each window insert installed to increase comfort. 200 inserts have been installed since July of 2018, already a significant increase from 70 total inserts that were installed between July 2017 and June 2018. Casey Hess, the MPES AmeriCorps volunteer at Unity College, has been working closely with WindowDressers to identify low-income homes in Central Maine that could benefit from energy savings and better efficiency. “The collaboration between MCC’s AmeriCorps volunteers, Window Dressers, and Efficiency Maine is special. We are seeing real momentum in energy savings for low income rural Maine,” Casey says. The hard work of these community-based partnerships will be key to increasing the energy efficiency of low-income homes in Maine