In winter, I’ll bet you’ve noticed a cold draft of air sinking down from one or more of your windows. Besides being chilly, you’re losing money with that lost heat.

Of all the alternatives to keep your window spaces warm, installing WindowDressers insulated window inserts is arguably the most cost-effective. These double-pane interior storm windows will seal up leaky windows and will at least double the insulating value of your windows. They likely will pay for themselves with reduced fuel bills (and greater comfort) before the heating season is over.

Incorporated in Rockland in 2012, WindowDressers is a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce Maine’s reliance on fuel consumption by the manufacture and distribution of these insulative window inserts .

What are other alternatives to reduce the cold coming from our windows?

Most of us buy window insulation kits from our local hardware store. We get out the double-stick tape, cover the windows with the clear plastic sheet, and then use a hair dryer to make the plastic nice and smooth. We can see out of the windows while feeling a bit warmer inside. The process is bothersome and time-consuming, but it generally works well for winter. Come spring, of course, we have to rip off all that plastic to open the windows again.

Installing honeycomb pull-down blinds or window quilts is effective but expensive, and their drawback is that if you want to see out during daytime, you have to raise them. At night, you must pull them down to keep the heat in the house.


With WindowDressers window inserts, you can see out the window, and you will feel much warmer night and day, with lower heating bills.

One satisfied customer said WindowDressers are drastically different from and better than the plastic sheeting he had used in the past.

Replacing leaky windows with new vinyl-frame double-pane models is an expensive option not generally recommended by Efficiency Maine as cost-effective.

By contrast, WindowDressers inserts are low cost, about $18 per window (varies with size), or about $360 per average house. Commercial insulated window inserts cost between $80 and $100 per window or about $1,500 per average house.

WindowDressers can get the job done inexpensively because the homeowner works with neighbors and other volunteers to assemble your own windows. Typically there are five steps to the process:

• A Sustain Mid Maine Coalition volunteer home energy consultant will come to your home to provide an energy consultation and discuss the different window alternatives with you. If WindowDressers is the right solution for you, he/she will advise you on which windows are really worth doing, then measure those window spaces.


• You pay the invoice ahead of time.

• The wood frames (pine or white) are cut and assembled by WindowDressers.

• Then you join a group of other people who are also in the program to work for a day or two at a “community build.” A team of nine people can build 70 insulated inserts in a day.

• You take your inserts home, install them in the window frames and leave them there all winter.

The money you spend on these inserts will be less than the money you will save on your fuel bills in the first winter. And you’ll be warmer.

Come spring, you take the inserts out, store them in your home, safe from scratching, and they’ll be ready to insert the following winter. Each one is already labeled with the name of window space where it belongs.

For more information, visit For an appointment to measure your windows and to get other advice about weatherization, call the SMMC Residential Energy Program team at 680-4208.

Peter Garrett is a member of SMMC’s Public Policy Team and a volunteer home energy consultant through SMMC’s Residential Energy Program. He led a team building WindowDressers in Vassalboro in 2013 and currently leads the team in the Waterville, Winslow and Fairfield area. Sustain Mid Maine Coalition is a grassroots organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the people of central Maine. For more information, visit

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