By: Leah Soloway, Americorps Energy Efficiency Coordinator
With the winter fast approaching and the colder temperatures among us, many Mainers feel the pressure of their upcoming heating bills. As a recent college student with experience renting an apartment along the coast, this situation is all too familiar. I can remember the cold nights that my roommates and I experienced due to our apprehensiveness of adding heat to our utility costs. It was not until a Saturday in Mid-November that we decided that we couldn’t wait any longer. We had taken too many showers where our hair wouldn’t dry, woken up cold too many times from underneath layers of blankets and were unable to focus studying from feeling an uncomfortable chill. Once we turned on the heat, we started to feel a lot better, but our bank accounts and the environment took the hit.
This experience last winter as well as my education in sustainability has motivated me to spearhead an AmeriCorps project at USM with the USM Office of Sustainability. Our efforts on campus and in the communities are particularly designed to increase energy efficiency and our first project will accomplish this through weatherization services. Energy efficiency is a term used to describe reducing the amount of energy lost when it is consumed, and as we know in Maine, we consume a lot of energy for heat!
Free Window-Insert AmeriCorps Project
Our first AmeriCorps project in the community is offering free window inserts that will directly reduce the amount of energy used for heat. For households that qualify for any type of government assistance, they can receive free window inserts that will help insulate their homes this winter. The window inserts are easily placed on the inside of the window and cause no damage. They are for both homeowners and renters, and renters do not need approval by the landlord to use window-inserts.
The Win-Win-Win Scenario
The project addresses the 3 pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social sustainability. It is an exceptional project that will help families save on heating costs, reduce the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere and keep people warmer this winter. According to the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, if people do not have their physiological needs met such as warmth, it can have a ripple effect on their health and ability to be economically stable. We must also decrease the amount of energy consumed to combat the hidden costs that pollution has on human health. By improving each of the 3 pillars simultaneously, we ensure that our solution is sustainable and we can make the most long-lasting impact for both environmental and human health.
AmeriCorps at USM’s Office of Sustainability
USM is one of six Maine colleges hosting the AmeriCorps program, The Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship, coordinated through Maine Campus Compact, that will help foster more energy efficient practices within our local communities.
If you or someone you know would like to receive free inserts, they can contact me at [email protected] or call 207-699-6803.