Do you want improved performance, comfort and durability of your home? Freeport Climate Action Now recently presented a very informative public program at the Freeport Community Center giving the audience of 50 homeowners resources to assess their home’s energy movement. Experts presented great information on energy efficiency and weatherization, plus state and town programs to help pay for energy assessments and improvements.

Rep. Melanie Sachs, who is a certified energy policy planner, told the audience that “energy provides safety, connections and health for Maine people.” Claire Betze has a business, Building Works, that offers comprehensive home energy assessments for new home design and improving existing home energy systems. Claire advises homeowners to think of “homes as systems that work together” which include air and water movement as well as heating and cooling. When you add more insulation to a house, reducing the air flow outside, you may increase the moisture inside. Extra moisture build up may combine with old, deteriorating insulation in walls or attic to cause mold buildup, which affects the health of residents.

Jon Riley, an energy auditor, who started Casco Bay Insulation in Westbrook, spoke about health and safety issues associated with deteriorating insulation from the 1970s that was made with vermiculite and should be removed. Jon installs recycled, dense-packed cellulose insulation in new homes, providing long-term, stable insulation that provides both good insulation and an air barrier, and provides a market for recycled paper. One important principle of building science is that you need both an air barrier and an insulating layer to keep heat inside your house. The air barrier is like a Gore-Tex or nylon coat you wear over your down or polyester winter coat, which provides the insulation. Another principle is to determine the outline of the building envelope that separates the warm air inside from the unheated parts of your house. The basement should be inside the envelope while the attic is usually outside the envelope. The house envelope needs to have a complete air barrier as well as insulation. Finding and filling gaps where pipes or vents go through this envelope and sealing any openings will reduce the outflow of heated air and save you money.

Since hot air rises, air moves from your basement into the first floor and eventually out through the attic. Look at your attic hatch to see if it has foam insulation on the upper surface and weather-stripping around the ceiling opening, so warm house air doesn’t flow upwards to the attic. Feel around windows and doors for drafts and learn about different types of weather-stripping and how to apply them. YouTube has videos on weatherization. I serve on Topsham’s Energy Committee, which has posted a good, basic slideshow on weatherization at There is often a large opening adjacent to your chimney where it goes from the living area into the attic that a builder can fill with metal against the chimney and fireproof caulking to prevent warm air escaping into the attic.

Richard Burbank, president of Evergreen Home Performance, who provides excellent weatherization services from Portland to Rockland, recommends the book “Insulate and Weatherize” by Bruce Harley. Richard prioritizes doing your home energy education and assessment, weather-stripping doors and windows and window insulation as things a homeowner can do themselves. You can prevent heat loss from single- or double-pane windows by building window inserts at a Window Dressers Community Build or buying a window insulation shrink kit. Finally, inspect your basement doors to see that they close well and are insulated.

Efficiency Maine continues to provide $600 rebates to homeowners for doing energy assessment and air sealing, which will evaluate heat loss from your home and prioritize for you the improvements you can make that will make your house more efficient for the least cost. If you then make one of those weatherization or insulation recommendations, Efficiency Maine will give you significant rebates for installing insulation in your attic, basement or walls. Maximum rebates that reduce your costs range from $6,000 for moderate-income homeowners to $8,000 for low-income homeowners to $4,000 for any homeowner on a $10,000 project.


Freeport Town Councilors have increased these rebates by $2,000 for Freeport residents who make home energy efficiency improvements by using grant money from the American Rescue Plan Act. An application is available on the Freeport town website under “Departments,” then choose “Electrify Everything! Rebate Program.” Freeport’s rebates also cover heat pumps and heat-pump water heaters, which provide much more efficient water heating, lowering your electric bills significantly for the life of the water heater.

How does one pay for these energy improvements that will save you money each month on your heating and electric bills? At, select “At Home” to read the list of incentives, which are rebates that lower the price of each service or energy-efficient equipment you buy. Efficiency Maine provides a list of approved contractors in your area and what services they provide. Suggested questions to ask potential contractors are listed. Have your selected contractor do an energy assessment that will tell you the most cost-effective steps to take in tightening your home envelope to reduce heat loss.

Next, decide which step or steps you want the contractor to do and take out a small loan from Efficiency Maine — under “Getting Started,” then “Home Energy Loans” — to cover the difference between your rebates and the total project costs. You will start seeing monthly reductions in your heating bill with the next bill. The monthly energy savings often are in the same range as your two- to four-year loan repayments, so your total energy costs are unlikely to rise. After paying off the loan, your bills will be lower for decades.

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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