At a home energy assessment on Vinalhaven: left to right, Keith McPherson (Home Energy Answers), Bill Forner (Vinalhaven Energy Club), Del Webster (Vinalhaven Energy Club), Rhoda Boughton (homeowner) and Brooks Winner (Island Institute) - Photo: Andrew Dorr
At a home energy assessment on Vinalhaven: left to right, Keith McPherson (Home Energy Answers), Bill Forner (Vinalhaven Energy Club), Del Webster (Vinalhaven Energy Club), Rhoda Boughton (homeowner) and Brooks Winner (Island Institute) - Photo: Andrew Dorr
During Vinalhaven's first Weatherization Week, from July 16 to 20, the Vinalhaven Energy Club, in partnership with the Island Institute and Home Energy Answers, a certified energy auditing and weatherization company in Albion, coordinated professional home energy assessments and performed basic insulation and air-sealing work for eight homeowners on Vinalhaven.

The cost to the homeowners for the assessments and weatherization was reduced significantly through support from Efficiency Maine's new Residential Direct Install (RDI) program and other funding. After only about six hours of work, the participating homes will likely save between $300 and $700 per year on their heating bills. "We were thrilled to be able to help islanders make use of Efficiency Maine's new RDI program to make their homes warmer this winter, and we're looking forward to bringing this program to additional islands as the heating season approaches," said Suzanne MacDonald, community energy director at the Island Institute.

The Vinalhaven Energy Club, formed in 2010, seeks to improve energy and resource efficiency for the residents of Vinalhaven while maintaining warm and well-lit homes and buildings. The club is open to all residents interested in building interior storm windows for residential and public buildings, performing basic energy-efficiency home walk-throughs, and exploring ways to expand the benefits of renewable energy generation on the island. In the future, the group plans to explore recycling and municipal composting projects. Karol Kucinski, one of the energy club's founding members, explains, "We're interested in lowering people's energy costs, especially those with limited means. We're neighbors helping neighbors and we have a lot of fun."

Vinalhaven's Weatherization Week is also part of an ongoing Island Institute initiative to support island residents in tackling their local energy challenges while serving as models for mainland communities. Other projects include Energy for ME, an energy education program involving students in grades 6 through 12 and their families in 10 island and coastal communities, support for island community-based renewable energy projects, and resources to help island and coastal communities understand and weigh the costs and benefits of ocean renewable energy.

For information on the Vinalhaven Energy Club, contact Karol Kucinski at karolkvh@hotmail.com or 863-2503, or visit www.vinalhaven.org/vinalhaven-energy-club. For more information on the Island Institute's community energy work, contact Suzanne MacDonald, community energy director, at smacdonald@islandinstitute.org or 594-9209, extension 144, or visit www.islandinstitute.org/energyinitiatives.