High energy costs are a major challenge for Maine’s island and coastal communities because they face some of the highest electric and heating fuel costs in the U.S. To reduce this burden, the Island Institute helps island residents increase energy efficiency in homes, businesses, schools, and other public buildings, reducing costs and increasing comfort and safety.
We work closely with islanders and mainland experts who want to reduce energy consumption through community-scale energy efficiency projects, hands-on energy efficiency workshops and information sessions. We partner with island residents to organize community-wide weatherization initiatives, build and install low-cost interior storm window inserts, and spread awareness about incentives and financing for energy efficiency. We also provide commercial fishermen with resources on practical, easy-to-implement practices and retrofits through our Fuel in Fisheries programming. Our efficiency work often uses distance learning technologies such as webinar and video conferencing to enable islanders to participate without having to travel long distances to attend meetings.
Not sure where to start? Click here for a full sized verion of the infographic below.
There are many challenges associated with completing weatherization efforts in remote communities. The Community Energy program has developed a model that makes this work easy and affordable for homeowners, and financially worthwhile for contractors. We team up with local partners to organize island “Weatherization Weeks,” bringing contractors to islands to complete home energy assessments, basic air sealing, and insulation work on six to 10 island homes throughout a week. These low-cost, high-savings improvements have saved the average island homeowner over $300 per year, often paying for themselves within the first heating season.
Focusing first on the “low-hanging fruit,” Weatherization Weeks allow homeowners to make significant energy efficiency upgrades without spending thousands of dollars. This often motivates them to proceed with more impactful efficiency projects. Weatherization Weeks also allow homeowners to access incentives from Efficiency Maine and other sources to further reduce the cost of efficiency upgrades.
To date, the Island Institute has coordinated Weatherization Weeks on 13 of Maine’s 15 year-round island communities. Total energy savings from this program exceed $2.3 Million (and counting!). More than 2,200 tons of Carbon Dioxide emissions are avoided each year in addition.
If you would like to inquire about hosting a Weatherization Week on your island, please contact Brooks Winner.
Save like an Islander fact sheets:
Our Energy team created these fact sheets as a resource for Mainers looking to save money on home heating through insulation and those looking into the possibility of using new, high-efficiency heat pumps to heat their homes.
- Insulation Options for Maine Island Homes
- Heating System Options for Maine Island Homes
- Lighting Options for Maine Island Homes & Businesses
Interior Storm Window Inserts
The Island Institute – through its Community Energy and Fellows programs – has been helping islanders build interior storm window inserts since 2011. Popularized locally by the Midcoast Green Collaborative, interior storm windows are an easy and affordable way to reduce air leakage and outside noise. They are reusable for 10 years or more, are unobtrusive and fit tightly into the frame of the window, cutting drafts and noise while letting sunlight in.
Thanks in part to support from the Doree Taylor Foundation, Efficiency Maine Trust, Maine Commission for Community Service, the John T. Gorman Foundation, and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, Island Fellows and Community Energy staff have helped build more than 400 windows through workshops in the following communities: Chebeague Island, Cliff Island, Long Island, Deer Isle, Frenchboro, Isle au Haut, Matinicus, Monhegan, St. George, Stonington, Tenants Harbor, Vinalhaven, North Haven, Peaks Island, Islesboro, Swan’s Island, and Mount Desert Island.
Instructions are available here: Insert Storm Windows Directions.pdf
For more information on interior storm window-building workshops, please contact Harry Podolsky.
Monhegan and Matinicus Island Fellowship
From 2014 through 2016 Ben Algeo served as an Island Fellow on Monhegan and Matinicus in collaboration with the electric utilities on those islands. This fellowship focused on addressing the need to lower energy costs through efficiency and conservation. Ben inventoried the building stock, organized bulk purchases of LED light bulbs, and worked with the schools in both communities. He also assisted with a community energy planning project on Monhegan, and surveyed the Matinicus electric grid for potential line loss issues. Ben covered some of this work in his blog, the Diesel Island Post.