May 22, 2018
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Kits to help volunteers winterize homes

By Meg Haskell, BDN Staff

In preparation for the cold season ahead, the state has bought 2,000 home winterization kits for low-income Mainers.

The kits will be released to volunteer groups on Oct. 25, national Make A Difference Day. Homeowners who want to have their homes tightened up against the winter may call one of several area agencies to add their names to a list of eligible recipients.

“People are scared,” said Carol Higgins Taylor, communications director for the Eastern Agency on Aging in Bangor. “We’ve had a number of people call to sign up to have their home winterized.”

The five Agency on Aging offices across the state are among the places people can call to be added to the recipient list for the state’s Keep ME Warm home winterization program. Other places include regional community action programs such as Penquis in Bangor, municipal general assistance programs and the statewide 211 telephone hot line.

The kits contain materials including rope caulk and foam tape to fill gaps around doors and windows, wind-blocking gaskets for electrical switch plates and outlets, low-flow attachments for shower heads and faucets, insulation for water pipes, and sheets of clear plastic for covering drafty windows and unused doors. Some kits contain fluorescent light bulbs, and smoke detectors also are available. Coupons for discounts on additional winterization materials also will be distributed.

Each kit cost the state about $41, compared with the $60 they cost in previous years.

The kits have been delivered to 16 sites around the state, including Cooperative Extension offices in every county except Cumberland County, where they are stored at the state Department of Transportation facility in Scarborough. The number of kits allotted to each site reflects the number of area residents who participated last year in the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

Those allotments include:

    Aroostook (Fort Kent) — 78 kits.

      Aroostook (Houlton) — 78 kits.

        Aroostook (Presque Isle) — 79 kits.

          Hancock (Ellsworth) — 81 kits.

            Knox-Lincoln (Waldoboro) — 105 kits.

              Penobscot (Bangor) — 254 kits.

                Piscataquis (Dover-Foxcroft) — 53 kits.

                  Waldo (Waldo) — 99 kits.

                    Washington (Machias) — 112 kits.

                    Individuals will not be allowed to pick up kits for their own use at any of these sites; only preregistered volunteer groups can receive the kits for installation at selected homes. The Extension offices will train volunteers to use the materials.

                    Kathy Poulin of the Maine State Housing Authority said the state is trying to assure that all kits are used. Volunteer groups will be required to identify which homes they’re visiting based on the requests received by local agencies. If all kits are spoken for, she said, more may be available through volunteer donations or other sources.

                    Though kits must be picked up on Oct. 25, it likely will be several weeks before they are all delivered and installed. Homeowners will have some say over which materials are used, Poulin said, but all materials from each kit will be left at the designated home. “Some people may be more comfortable having a family member install some of it,” she said.

                    Volunteer groups wanting to register for the Keep ME Warm project should contact their county Extension office.

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