Dennis Robillard, left, and Malcolm Greene, in back, look closely at how shrink wrap is applied to a window insert as Taylor Strubell and Phoebe Little wrap a pine frame – part of the procedure in assembling window inserts designed to keep some Biddeford residents warmer this season. The Maine Energy AmeriCorps Program project built 87 inserts last week. Biddeford Church of Christ donated the space for the volunteer effort. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — Several families in Biddeford will find their homes to be a little warmer this winter season, with new window inserts designed to provide insulation from the cold.

All it takes are frames made from pine, glue, screws, tape, weather strip foam and plastic sheeting — and some volunteer labor. Windows were measured in advance, and so the work to manufacture them went quickly.

Construction took place in the hall at Biddeford Church of Christ on a recent day, when volunteers came together with coordinator Phoebe Little of the Maine Energy AmeriCorps Program to fashion 87 frames.

Dennis Robillard was among the volunteers assembling window inserts with the Maine Energy AmeriCorps Program in Biddeford recently. The project is also supported by the nonprofit WindowDressers and by GrowSmart Maine. Tammy Wells Photo

It is the first year of the window insert program in Biddeford, said Little, where MEAP is partnering with GrowSmart Maine and the nonprofit WindowDressers. Statewide, building locations also include York, Portland, Windham, Lewiston and Orono.

“Our goal for 2020-2021 is to build windows for 80-100 eligible households, with over 500 windows built in total (5-10 windows per household),” statewide, said Sally Slovenski, director of Maine Campus Compact. The Maine Energy AmeriCorp’s Program is under its helm. “Each window is estimated to save an average of $27 per year in heating costs and helps reduce energy and CO2 emissions by lowering the amount of heat loss through windows,” said Slovenski.

This is the second year GrowSmart Maine has partnered with MEAP to provide weatherization to those who need it and chose to participate with Biddeford and Windham, said GrowSMart Maine Director Nancy Smith.

“We do this work because energy efficiency and weatherization are pragmatic steps in addressing climate change, because all Mainers appreciate saving money while increasing comfort and safety, while also reducing our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Smith.

All this is good news for Malcolm Greene, who stopped by to volunteer and whose home will benefit from the window inserts.

“These should help considerably,” said Greene, noting recent increases in the price of heating oil.

Phoebe Little, coordinator of the Maine Energy AmeriCorps Program in Biddeford displays a sample of what window inserts look like during a recent event where volunteers assembled 87 full sized inserts to help keep residents’ homes warmer this winter. Tammy Wells Photo

The work went fast. Volunteers assemble the frames first, then apply shrink-wrap plastic on each side. The foam weather strip holds the insert in place when it is placed in a window. The inserts are designed to last up to 10 years.

Dennis Robillard was among those assembling frames on a recent day.

“I was at a Rotary Club meeting and Phoebe spoke and they were looking for volunteers,” said Robillard. “I’ve got time on my hands, and it’s easy to do.”

For her part, Little said it felt good to work on a project with a tangible outcome.

“It’s really rewarding,” she said.

Little called on several local entities to seek volunteers and to locate people who could use the inserts.

Biddeford Church of Christ minister Dennis Godin said MEAP asked if they could use the building for assembling the inserts.

“They sent us information and it didn’t take long for us to decide to help,” said Godin.

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