Window Dressers to start third year

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Window Dressers may sound like a home decorating business, but it is a volunteer-powered organization that builds low-cost window inserts to help keep people warm and save money on heating bills during Maine winters.

The window inserts are made from Maine pine frames wrapped in polyolefin plastic, like the crystal clear plastic used to wrap meat, but thicker. Windows are individually measured, the wood cut and frames assembled. Then volunteers help wrap the frames and finally the edge of the frame is lined with a weather-strip foam, which holds the window insert in place when installed inside the home to eliminate any cold from leaking through the window. The inserts cut down on heating costs by 50-75 percent, as well as reducing street noise and draft and reducing carbon dioxide put into the environment. Many users report the inserts paying for themselves in the first or second year. The inserts can be used year after year.

In 2015 Dr. Lesley Fernow organized the first Dover-Foxcroft Community Build for Window Dressers, producing 250 window inserts of all sizes for residences including mobile homes, public buildings, churches and libraries. The successful first build led to a second year where 313 window inserts were built for 39 clients from 11 communities. There were 11 low-income families served with a total of 70 inserts at an average cost per insert of $20.69.

The project had 49 volunteers of all ages, many of whom worked every day during the build doing jobs including taping, wrapping, heat shrinking, driving, phone calling, foaming, measuring, painting, preparing lunches and snacks. The Center Coffee House provided free coffee.

The work location at the renovated Mr. Paperback space was provided at very low cost by owner Charles Fitzgerald. “It’s like an old-fashioned barn raising,” Fernow said. “We have so much fun.”

This year the Window Dressers team in the region will be stepping up one notch, they will be not only wrapping the frames, but constructing them locally. The measuring teams will send the measurements, as before, to Rockland for the frame pieces to be cut. Then the bundled frame pieces will be brought back to Dover-Foxcroft to be completed. This will increase the need for volunteers and extend the build a few days, but it will be more efficient and the team hopes it will improve quality control. All supplies, measuring equipment, jigs and tools are supplied by Window Dressers, whose founders have spent years perfecting the tools that work best for each construction task.

The Dover-Foxcroft build is currently signing people up for inserts for this year as well as looking for interested volunteers to help with either the construction of the frames or the wrapping. The actual build dates are Nov. 11-19. The team is hoping to be able to do the build this year at Central Hall if the occupancy permit is complete.

If interested in volunteering to help with measuring or the build, please call Lesley Fernow at 992-6822. To sign up for having indows measured, go to or call 596-3073.

Contributed photo
WINDOW DRESSERS COMMUNITY BUILD PLANNED FOR NOVEMBER — The third Dover-Foxcroft Community Build for Window Dressers is being planned for Nov. 11-19, and new in 2017 will be the construction of the window frames for the energy-efficient inserts. To volunteer for measuring and/or the build, please call 992-6822. To sign up to have windows measured go to or call 596-3073.

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