Unity area creating community energy model

Posted Nov. 26, 2008, at 7:49 p.m.

UNITY, Maine — The Neighbor Warming Neighbor effort in the area has created a launching pad for a broader communitywide discussion on planning the local energy future.

Energizing a Community will host a community celebration and planning session from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Community Center in Unity.

“We will thank all the community members who have assisted with the success of Neighbor Warming Neighbor,” said Ron Desrosiers of community group Time and Tide. “We need citizen input at our December 13th meeting to plan the next steps of Energizing a Community involving the development of educational forums on energy conservation and renewable energy topics.”

With participation from Time and Tide and the Unity Barn Raisers, as well as Unity College and residents from the Unity area, four educational and planning meetings occurred during the fall, Desrosiers said. The goal was to plan for winter by helping neighbors weatherize their homes, use alternative heating sources safely and install fire alarms and extinguishers.

During the following weeks, more than 80 people attended follow-up training and discussion sessions focusing on weatherization techniques and materials, a demonstration of a blower door system to assess heat loss, and installing and using wood and pellet stoves and space heaters safely.

“Our first initiative, Neighbor Warming Neighbor, was launched on Saturday, October 25th, with 40 volunteers and team leaders spending the day to weatherize 17 homes,” Desrosiers said.

On Nov. 15, despite rainy weather, another 19 volunteers weatherized an additional 10 homes.

“To date we have weatherized homes in Albion, Belmont, Burnham, Freedom, Knox, Montville, Thorndike, Troy and Unity,” he said.

For most of the homes being weatherized, foundations were wrapped in plastic, spray foam was used to block holes in basements, attic hatches were insulated, and weather stripping or caulking was applied to doors and windows. In some homes, ductwork was inspected and repaired, pipes were wrapped, plastic window treat-ment was added, fireplace inserts were constructed, and foam cellar doors were built.

Assistance was given to people of all income levels. Many homeowners agreed to support the project through their own volunteer involvement or by donating funds for materials. Volunteers who went into a neighbor’s home said they appreciated the opportunity to participate and be part of a true community.

The weatherization project has been funded by individual donations and grants. Approximately $85 worth of materials and labor was spent on each home weatherized, said Desrosiers. Community fundraising, grant writing and solicitation of donations have contributed to the project’s success.

The following is a breakdown of contributions and other donations, with estimated value calculated for the latter:

• $2,050 was raised through individual donations.

• $1,000 was given by the United Way of Mid Maine to coordinate referrals from the local towns’ general assistance recipients to Neighbor Warming Neighbor.

• $2,500 was given in a United Way of Eastern Maine grant to fund a blower door kit.

• $3,640 worth of Maine Governor Initiative Keep ME Warm weatherization kits.

• $2,600 worth of volunteer labor for the first workday.

• $1,235 worth of volunteer labor for the second workday.

• $450 in donated meals and refreshments.

“We are interested in how we as a community can keep our buying dollar local while ensuring the health and well-being of our citizens,” Desrosiers said.

Anyone seeking more information may call Desrosiers at Time and Tide, 622-7847, ext. 4, or Tess Woods at Unity Barn Raisers, 948-9005.

gchappell@bangordailynews.net

236-4598

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