Volunteers to spread word about energy efficiency

By Russ Van Arsdaleexecutive director Northeast CONTACT, Special to the BDN
Posted Sept. 19, 2010, at 6:59 p.m.

If you see people walking around your neighborhood a week from this Saturday — and they’re wearing green sneakers and yellow T-shirts — give them a friendly wave.

The sneakers may be any color; they may even be loafers, oxfords or work boots. The wearers will be volunteers with the Green Sneakers Project, an effort to spread the word about the economics of energy efficiency in Maine.

The Green Sneakers Project kicked off back in May in Camden, Rockport and Portland. Nearly 50 volunteers took part at that time, going door to door and handing out 500 recyclable shopping bags containing coupons, information and gifts designed to save energy.

They’ll be out in force again on Oct. 2 in the Bangor-Orono area, plus Thomaston, South Portland and Lewiston-Auburn. Volunteers in Fort Kent were out this past weekend. The goal is to talk directly with homeowners about steps they can take to better weatherize their homes and save money in doing so.

The door-to-door campaign is a project of Maine Partners for Cool Communities, an alliance of the American Lung Association of Maine, Maine Council of Churches, Maine Energy Investment Corp., Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sierra Club, Maine chapter.

If they have their way, organizers say the volunteers may talk with more than 2,000 homeowners by year’s end. They’ll be stressing the bottom line of energy efficiency: saving money, which should resonate with virtually everyone.

They’ll also be talking about the consequences of wasting energy: more greenhouse gases and greater reliance on imported oil or expensive and possibly ecounfriendly ways of increasing domestic supplies.

Volunteers will also have details on the Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, bill passed recently by the Maine Legislature. PACE allows municipalities to set up a program through which homeowners can borrow up to $15,000 for energy improvements. They repay it over time, along with their property taxes. The sweetener is, the repayment is less than the amount of money saved by the energy improvements.

During the visit, homeowners may want to ask about a home walk-through with a trained volunteer, who can make suggestions about saving energy. They may want to go a step further and find an Efficiency Maine home approved evaluator (call 877-334-6583 or visit www.efficiencymaine.com for a listing).

Sandy Amborn, Cool Communities coordinator, said Mainers may be inclined to take the suggestions they learn about and run with them. She urges that first they hire a certified energy auditor to give their home a thorough inspection. “Without an energy audit or expert to assess it, they might be throwing money down the drain,” Amborn said.

So, if someone who knocks on your door Oct. 2 is wearing a yellow T-shirt and carrying a green bag, spend a few minutes talking with that person. It could mean a warmer house, and a “cooler” Maine.

For information, visit coolmaine.org/green-sneakers-project.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s membership-funded, nonprofit consumer organization. Individual and business memberships are available at modest rates. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for more information, write: Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, or go to http://necontact.wordpress.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/09/19/business/volunteers-to-spread-word-about-energy-efficiency/ printed on December 24, 2014