BELFAST — With winter on the front porch, most Mainers will turn their collective attention to keeping warm and minimizing heating costs.

Windows are a primary source of heat loss in a home. Window drafts reduce heat in the home and require heating systems to use more fuel. The result is a chill in the home, and in the checkbook. A regional organization offers a solution to both issues through a unique volunteer program.

Window Dressers is a program created in Maine that offers low-cost window inserts built through the efforts of community volunteers. Window Dressers host dozens of “community builds” throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to build the inserts, which enables the organization to offer them at an affordable price.

The community build for Waldo County will take place at the Belfast Boathouse Nov. 9-22 and volunteers are needed.

The program was created by Frank Mundo and Dick Cadwgen of Rockland in 2010. Mundo and Cadwgen, both with engineering backgrounds, were trying to help members of their church by building custom inserts to reduce draft and increase efficiency. The pair used volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockland to build the inserts. Wildly popular, community builds were started throughout Maine. The program has made its way into Vermont and, most recently, New Hampshire.

Local coordinators organize and oversee the community builds in these states. Belfast resident Corliss Davis is one of the local coordinators for the annual Waldo County build, which began in 2012.

“These are all volunteers doing this,” Davis said. “It’s an amazing program. It helps families keep warm, keep heating costs down, and it brings the community together to help their neighbors.”

Customers seeking the inserts are asked to visit the Window Dressers website to obtain contact information for local coordinators and builds. Once the local coordinator is contacted, they will send a measuring team to the home to measure each window for an insert. After measuring, the customer is then asked to sign up for shifts at the community build and pay for the insert(s) they have ordered (costs are low and special low-income pricing is available).

The final step for customers is to participate in the community build, collect their custom inserts and install them in their homes.

Each custom insert is labeled specifically for each customer and window it will insulate. Window Dressers estimates the inserts reduce heating costs in a typical Maine home by as much as 20%.

“One of the strengths of this program is that we send teams of volunteers to measure the windows,” Davis said. “We used laser tools to measure the windows in every household, apartment, or trailer. They are all individually labeled so you know to whom it goes, and where it goes in their household. It costs way less than you would pay for a commercial insert and part of that is the volunteer labor.”

Davis expects the Waldo County Window Dressers build at the Boathouse will attract over 100 volunteers this year. Each volunteer is given training to perform a step in the building process. This year the Waldo County build will create 500 window inserts.

“We do a lot of inserts for seniors and the low-income,” Davis said. “It’s so good to be able to offer this service to them.”

For more information, or to make an order, see