Introducing Nancy Chandler, of the Topsham Recycling Committee and MSAD 75 School Board, the new writer of The Recycle Bin column. A little history and some credentials from Nancy:

My husband, Chip Chandler, designed a solar, wood-heated A-frame in Phippsburg in 1980 that functioned to raise our two children with no furnace or fossil fuel use. We used homemade window quilts to keep the 30 feet of greenhouse walls covered at night and on cloudy days. We converted this home from passive to active solar after we discovered that the house got too warm with only four hours of full sunlight. We temporarily removed the concrete tile flooring and added perforated plumbing pipes connected to a pipe down from the attic. Attached to that pipe was a fan with a thermostat, which turned on when the attic got warm to send hot air into the plumbing pipes surrounded with a rock storage bed. We replaced the concrete flooring tiles, which had gaps that allowed the stored heat to rise into the large greenhouse. This heated both the adjacent bedrooms and smaller living space above, with only three cords of firewood used in dark or cloudy winter times.

I have experience creating a Solid Waste Committee in Phippsburg, starting a recycling center and working for the town to run the new Roll Off Transfer Station. So, I expect to continue themes of “reduce, reuse, repair and recycle,” such as building an effective compost pile for free fertilizer and buying in bulk with reused bags or jars. Maine has a new extended producer packaging responsibility law just going into effect, which should reduce the costs to towns for recycling.

I recently taught a three-hour course on home weatherization, which can be watched through Merrymeeting Adult Education’s website. You can also go to and choose a webinar on solar options, green electrification or weatherization that will introduce you to the following three energy-saving programs in this area:

1. Window Dressers is holding a window insert building event at St Paul’s Episcopal Church from Oct. 23-29. Call Window Dressers to schedule measuring your windows at 596-3073. These transparent inserts come out in the spring and will last for several years. You will be asked to help make the inserts and pay for the materials. Bath also is scheduling a window insert workshop for early fall.

2. Efficiency Maine has many rebates for appliances, heat pumps, home energy audits and insulation, and electric cars for homeowners. Rebates for an energy audit followed by recommended insulation will be 50% of the project — up to $5,500 for most homeowners. People who qualify for LIHEAP, TANIF or SNAP get a free energy audit and pay only 10% of energy saving home improvements — up to $10,000. Since most homes lose 20%-40% of their heat, these improvements will probably save you a similar amount of your heating costs each year.

3. Habitat for Humanity 7 Rivers in Topsham provides weatherization and home repairs to income-eligible, elderly people to help them continue living in their homes in Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties and Brunswick.

I look forward to sharing ideas for learning about energy sources, home improvements and behaviors that reduce our use of expensive fossil fuels. We will explore ways for our communities to use federal funds to improve public transportation and green our town vehicles. We will explore Maine’s climate plan and how it will fund and support our towns and cities to be more adaptable to climate changes. Residents of Phippsburg, Woolwich, Arrowsic, Georgetown and Westport Island, with the help of the University of Southern Maine, have received $62,500 from Maine’s resiliency program. A continuing program of state support to town resiliency includes grants for installing electric vehicle chargers, creating town climate action plans, purchasing a solar power system or building climate-ready infrastructure.

Nancy Chandler studied Animal Behavior and Anthropology at Stanford University, then received her master’s in biology education in her home state of North Carolina at U.N.C. Chapel Hill. She is passionate about teaching energy conservation and hopes to get you thinking about how to use energy use efficiently to save both money and reduce greenhouse warming gases.

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