UNITY, Maine — Helping one an-other stay warm this winter was the guiding principle Wednesday night at the “Neighbor Warming Neighbor” work group meeting.
About 20 residents gathered for a two-part meeting in two locations. The educational part on home heating operation and safety met at Mac’s Hardware for a session led by Assistant Fire Chief David Smith.
They regrouped at the Unity Community Center to review the Neighbor Warming Neighbor business plan and assess group resources for completing tasks to help weatherize homes in the area.
The business plan lays out short-term goals, said Ron Desrosiers of Time & Tide Re-source Conservation & Development Area, a co-sponsor of the weatherization initiative.
Local residents, with the help of Unity College, Time and Tide RC&D, Unity Barn Raisers, Mac’s Hardware, Unity Fire Department and the Waldo Community Action Program, began meeting two months ago to work on an energy plan for the community. Wednesday’s session was the third in the series, which has drawn about 100 people from the town of 1,900.
Smith went over safety tips for wood-burning stoves and wood pellet burners, the use of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the use of fire extinguishers.
He warned people against in-stalling kerosene burners in their homes.
“They need a lot of ventilation,” he said.
He also warned against using propane and charcoal grills inside and against using a pro-pane stove as a space heater.
Fire Chief Dennis Turner also cautioned the group that a propane heater needs a carbon monoxide alarm.
Smith demonstrated the PASS functions, for pull, aim, squeeze and sweep, of a fire extinguisher, noting that 10 years is the life span of an extinguisher. Most homeowner units are not rechargeable, he said.
“Once you operate it, you lose pressure, and you have to get another one,” he said.
Focusing on short-term goals, Desrosiers reminded participants that high-energy prices would force many residents this winter to decide be-tween spending money on heat, food or medicines.
“We’ve drafted a plan that has intermediate and long-term goals,” Desrosiers said Wednesday.
The group went over its game plan of identifying homes to be weatherized, recruiting volunteers, finding sponsor-ships, training volunteers and having a weatherization week-end.
“Between mid-September and mid-October, we’ve got a month to identify some homes we’d like to weatherize,” Desrosiers said.
“We decided at the last meeting that it was too much like charity if we went up to a home and said we’d like to weatherize the house,” he said.
He cited the Habitat for Humanity model, in which every-body who gets help wants to give it back.
“We give people an opportunity to give something back, whatever way they can,” he said.
The contribution could be in helping to weatherize someone else’s house, giving money, or making sandwiches for work crews on weatherization week-end.
Recruiting would need 20 to 40 volunteers to be trained and contribute five hours to the effort, Desrosiers said.
Fundraising would begin at the same time. The group estimates that it would need to raise $1,000 to pay for weatherization materials estimated at $50 a kit.
The group will meet again at 6 p.m. Oct. 1, at the Copper Her-ring in Unity, with Larry Horvath from Waldo CAP, who will demonstrate the blower door test used assess heat loss in a residence or small business.
Weatherization training will be held for volunteers on Oct. 18.
On the weekend of Oct. 24-25, teams of three to four students and community members will participate in home weatherization weekend. After viewing a training video as a refresher, the teams will work on 20 homes in Unity and surrounding towns.
Intermediate strategies include energy conservation improvements, and long-term strategies include community-owned energy products and aggregate co-op buying of fuel.