Mid-Coast agencies prepare for continued winterization efforts

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BATH — Area agencies turned an $8,800 investment into nearly $33,000 in annual energy savings for 76 families last winter and are planning to aid 100 more households this winter, they said Tuesday in a weatherization forum at United Way of Mid Coast Maine.

The forum, held in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity/7 Rivers Maine, was held “as a response to requests from groups outside of this area who had heard what we were doing, and we were pretty excited about it,” said Maria Hinteregger, associate director of community impact at the Mid-Coast United Way chapter. “People wanted us to let them know what we had done.”

Charlie Wing, a nationally known home energy efficiency expert who developed the training curriculum for the weatherization initiative, pointed out that while full-scale weatherization can be expensive, basic weatherization can be significantly cheaper.

He used as an example an older, poorly maintained house with a 1,600-square-foot heated floor area, infiltration of one air change per hour, and a fuel bill of $1,916, for 867 gallons of oil at $2.21 per gallon. Sealing air leaks would drop infiltration by 25 percent, reducing the $900 annual cost of that flow by $225.

Installing six new double-glazed storm windows would reduce heat loss enough to produce $50 in annual savings. If the six windows are installed in a core warm area, producing an increased mean radiant temperature and allowing thermostats to be set back by 2 degrees, a home could save $115 a year, Wing said.

Finally, replacement of existing lights with 13-watt compact fluorescent lamps would reduce the lighting bill by 34 kilowatt hours a year, a savings of $37.

Combined, the savings on one home each year would be $427.

The work performed last winter by 166 volunteers over 1,400 hours of service was free to the homeowners, who were in Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties, Brunswick and Harpswell.

Many of the volunteers were trained by Wing on how to implement low-cost improvements such as sealing leaks, as well as how to build energy-saving interior storm windows.

Community partners from more than 20 municipalities, businesses, schools, energy groups, churches and other non-profit organizations worked with United Way on its Winter Preparedness Action Program. That program not only worked to make homes more energy efficient, but also included teams that reached out to vulnerable neighbors, provided emergency assistance and disseminated information.

Habitat for Humanity/7 Rivers Maine will take the lead in this winter’s project, Hinteregger said.

Hinteregger praised Wing’s expertise and the time he devoted to the project, as well as the work of the many other people involved.

“We were really fortunate that we pulled together a really solid group of people that were really committed to seeing this happen,” she said. “… You’ll know that the things you’re doing are going to make a difference.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.