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Richard Burbank of Evergreen Home Performance begins an energy audit as part of the Green Sneakers Energy Day in South Freeport, Maine.
Richard Burbank of Evergreen Home Performance begins an energy audit as part of the Green Sneakers Energy Day in South Freeport, Maine.

The grassroots Green Sneakers Project hosted an Energy Day last weekend to help interested homeowners learn how to slash their energy costs, keep warm, and help the planet.

“Weatherization and renewable energy are the keys to building a green economy,” said Joan Saxe, who co-chairs the Executive Committee of Sierra Club Maine and organized the Green Sneakers Energy Day. “Holding an open house in one of Maine’s old houses was a terrific opportunity to raise public awareness.”

Richard Burbank of Evergreen Home Performance begins an energy audit as part of the Green Sneakers Energy Day in South Freeport, Maine.

The group used Linda and Sam Nelson’s 200-year-old South Freeport home as a home performance laboratory, beginning with an energy audit from Evergreen Home Performance, continuing with a solar assessment from ReVision Energy, and culminating with the building and installation of an interior storm window.

The day started with a full energy audit from Evergreen Home Performance. Founder Richard Burbank walked the dozen or so participants through the Nelson’s home, demonstrating the power of infrared analysis to reveal air leaks and insulation gaps. Teams used infrared cameras to complete a scavenger hunt, finding spots where solar gain warmed uninsulated walls, and cold areas on the shady side of the house. Burbank pointed out areas of concern, especially in the basement and crawl spaces, where cold air flows in through uninsulated foundation walls. A blower door test helped quantify those leaks by measuring air movement through the house.

Green Sneakers also invited ReVision Energy to explain how the Nelsons might add solar panels to their home to offset their electricity usage. “I was really pleased to see people coming out to learn about green building,” said Jen Hatch of ReVision Energy. “The organizers of the event did a tremendous job getting people there and having a variety of interesting topics to cover.”

The day ended with a DIY interior storm window workshop led by Guy Marsden. Participants measured one of the Nelsons’ windows and constructed a simple, effective window insert with a wooden frame wrapped with clear heat-shrink polyolefin film and foam weather-stripping around the exterior. The foam compresses to hold the insert securely in place, sealing out cold drafts and dramatically reducing heat loss through leaky windows. Homeowners looking for a turn-key solution to drafty window can purchase similar window inserts from Evergreen Home Performance.

Green Sneakers offered $200 vouchers to help participants take action to improve their homes’ energy efficiency, and plans to follow up to encourage air sealing, insulation, window inserts, and solar energy improvements. The project is a grassroots program of Maine Partners for Cool Communities, which is made up of the Maine chapters of the Sierra Club, the Council of Churches, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.