Help Your Neighbors Stay Warm This Winter

By Jenevra Wetmore

This fall Sustainable Woodstock will make free insulating window inserts for community members, and you are invited to join us! From Thursday October 27th to Wednesday November 2nd, we will host a community build at the North Universalist Chapel Society Church (North Chapel), which is generously donating their space for this project. We will construct the window inserts at this build, first gluing and screwing together the wooden frames for the windows, and then wrapping them in this insulating plastic and foaming the outside. No experience is needed to volunteer, and you will be thanked with snacks and lots of community good-will, much like an old-fashioned barn raising. If you are interested in volunteering at our Window Dressers build, please sign up at:

This community build is run in partnership with Window Dressers (WD). WD brings volunteers together to build insulating window inserts for a participating town’s residents. The inserts function like custom interior storm windows, insulating a home to improve the warmth and comfort of interior spaces, lower heating costs, and reduce carbon dioxide pollution. More info is at:

All recipients of our Window Dressers build are income-qualifying and are receiving up to 10 inserts for free. We were able to identify and offer support to recipients in partnership with the Woodstock Area Relief Fund, which provided home heating grants to households last winter. We also found interested families by advertising at the Woodstock Area Food Shelf and posting on local listservs. The inserts are free of charge to all due to generous funding from Mascoma Bank and the Canaday Family Charitable Trust. 

We will construct ~225 inserts for 26 families during our week-long build, which will have multiple shifts during the weekday and on the weekend for people to volunteer—no experience necessary. While you do not need to have any building experience to be successful at a community build, you can still contribute if building isn’t in your comfort zone. We will also need folks to bring snacks and other food and drink for every day of the build, including bigger dishes around lunchtime. This program is a great experience for anyone wanting to help those in our community reduce energy load, save money, and create a warmer living space during the cold months of the year.

Window Dressers is also an important way of addressing energy burden for low-income Vermonters. Energy burden is the share of a household’s income spent on heat, electricity and transportation. According to Energy Action Vermont, some Vermonters spend over a quarter of their income on energy costs. Even worse, most of those expenses are for fossil fuels, which have volatile prices like those that we are seeing now for heating oil, propane, and at the gas pump. A tighter, well-insulated home is one step towards reducing a home’s energy burden, and to making it a more comfortable space.

Volunteering is also a great way to help the planet by combatting climate change. The thermal sector accounts for about 34% of Vermont’s Greenhouse Gas emissions, making it the state’s second largest source of climate pollution, behind transportation. To reach the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) emissions reduction requirements, we will need to weatherize around 120,000 more homes by 2030. These inserts will help us reach that goal. Each insulating window insert is made of a custom-made pine frame wrapped in two layers of tightly-sealed, clear polyolefin film and finished with a compressible foam gasket. The foam allows enough give for the inserts to be easily slid into place in the fall and removed in the spring, while holding firmly enough to provide a tight, friction-based seal that stops drafts and adds two more insulating air spaces. This is very helpful in Vermont’s homes, many of which were built in the 1900’s and have old, leaky windows. 

Join us anytime October 27th through November 2nd to volunteer at Woodstock’s Window Dressers Build, and build community at the same time! 

Left: a volunteer holds an insert. Right: a Window Dressers insert being installed. (Photos courtesy of Window Dressers)


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