Williston Energy Committee

A Community Solution for Drafty Homes

By Melinda Scott, Williston Energy Planner - March 28, 2024

Are the windows in your home drafty? Are you tired of the cold and discomfort every winter? If you need to stop the drafts in your home while improving your comfort and reducing heating costs, WindowDressers insulating window inserts can help.

WindowDressers insulating window inserts fit inside of your existing windows, letting in sunlight and views while keeping more heat inside your home. The inserts are high quality and low cost because they are built at barn-raising-style community builds across Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

WindowDressers, a non-profit organization, has run a very successful program since 2010, which has helped citizen-based teams provide over 68,000 window inserts to thousands of homes in northern New England, saving residents an estimated $1.9 million in heating costs.

What are window inserts?

Far superior to shrink-wrap plastic window covers and much less costly than replacement windows, wood-framed window inserts are custom measured and built to exactly fit into the inside of your window casings. The inserts are built of attractive pine frames and wrapped drum-tight with two layers of durable plastic film. The two layers of plastic create an insulating air space while letting in all the light and views.  Foam weather stripping around the outer edges stops drafts and ensures the insert’s tight, custom fit.

The inserts are installed on the inside of windows and held in place by friction. Depending on the efficiency of your windows and home, you could see fuel savings of up to 20 percent with inserts in place. The inserts can be removed at the end of winter and reinstalled each fall. With care, the inserts should last for 10 years. Should the plastic covering be damaged, it can be repaired for a modest price without replacing the frame.

Window inserts work with most double hung, sliding and casement windows. Your existing window frames must have square corners and a minimum of 7/8-inch of interior framing (“the jamb”) available for the insert. The inserts may not work in manufactured/mobile homes because of the limited framing around the windows.

What is the Cost?

As each insert is custom built for your home, costs are dependent on the size of the window. WindowDressers estimates the cost to be from $35 for a small window to $65 or more for a large window. If cost is prohibitive to you, WindowDressers has a program to provide windows at a reduced or even at zero cost.

You don’t need to obtain all your inserts in one year. Many people obtain a few and add more each year. Renters as well as homeowners are eligible for the WindowDressers program. Information is available to share with landlords about the program and the inserts.

Community build leads to success

A big reason these inserts are so affordable is that you are only charged for materials. Community volunteers are key to the success of the program. Everyone who orders inserts also participates in the community build. Participation is part of the cost of getting inserts and it’s a lot of fun. 

All community members, whether purchasing inserts or not, are invited to participate in any of the many tasks, including project coordination, window measurement, procurement, construction and installation.

During a community build event held over several days in the fall, participants are asked to contribute a four-hour shift for every 3-5 windows requested. All tools, supplies and training are provided and there are a range of tasks so there are ways everyone can help. Plus, participating in the community build event is fun and a great way to meet new people in your community. It literally builds community.

Sign me up

Your local WindowDressers volunteer team is accepting orders now for the fall 2024 community build season. Once you sign up, trained volunteers will schedule a time to measure your windows for the custom-built inserts. Then in the fall, you and other community volunteers will gather to build the inserts. Following the community build, you are responsible for transporting your window inserts home and installing them and beginning to enjoy a more comfortable home while reducing your heating costs.

To learn more and sign up for window inserts, visit www.windowdressers.org. Email burlingtonwindowdressers@gmail.com with any questions.

To participate in Williston’s energy future, reach out to your Williston Energy Committee at energy@willistonvt.org or attend a public meeting held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. The agenda for upcoming meetings is posted on the Town of Williston website (www.town.williston.vt.us). For more information, visit: https://www.willistonvtenergycommittee.org.

News and Updates

Williston Energy Plan Update

The Williston Energy Plan is in the process of being updated in conjunction with the Town Comprehensive Plan update. The updated plan needs to be adopted by the Selectboard by August, 2025. Contact the Energy Committee if you are interested in participating. 

Williston receives Municipal Energy Resilience Program Community Capacity Grant

The Town of Williston received a $4,000 grant from the Vermont Municipal Energy Resilience Program to facilitate public communication, education, outreach, and engagement about municipal energy resilience. 

Williston Greenhouse Gas Inventory Completed

A Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the town of Williston was recently completed by students from the University of Vermont Rubenstein School of Natural Resources. See the summary here and read the full report here.

Town approves Solar Panel Purchase

Williston voters approved the purchase of a rooftop solar array located on the Public Works Garage. The measure passed with 1,128 voting in favor and 328 voting against. The town has been leasing space for the solar array to iSun/Peck since it was installed in 2015, and currently benefits from 10% of the net metering credits, equivalent to about $2,000 annually. Purchasing the array will entitle the town to apply 100% of the net metering credits to offset its electric bill.