Fair energizers local residents
By Dawn De Busk
NAPLES — Everyone who had a booth at the Home Energy Fair was ready to talk about their product.
Everyone had their spiel.
Given that the topic was conserving energy for the homeowner, people were all ears.
About 100 people attended the fair, according to an organizer at the door. He said the majority of those people stopped in during the first two hours that the fair was open.
Ecomaine Environmental Educator Katrina Venhuizen said area residents were very interested about what happens to their household trash after it is dropped off at local transfer sites. Most residents who came to the fair lived in the communities that ecomaine serves, she said.
The ecomaine booth had many examples of products made from recycled trash including a flying disc, a bowl, a baseball cap and a super soft hoodie. All of it was produced from rubbish.
Also, it was news to people that plastic wrapping and plastic bags pose problems when thrown into the recycling bins.
“We can no longer take plastic bags,” Venhuizen said. “They get jammed in our machines.”
Those include wood pellet bags, bread bags and potato chip bags. She referred people to the website plasticfilm.org to learn where to drop off the plastic materials. Actually, many grocery stores have drop-off centers for nonrecyclable plastics, she said.
She said one important message is that ecomaine offers free educational outreach programs that are ideal for school children, scouting troops and businesses. Not only does she go to the communities that ecomaine serves but also civic groups and students can tour the Portland-based facility.
Venhuizen was excited that some local teachers attended the fair and did some networking with her.
“It’s a great field trip idea,” she said.
Hopefully, the sun is shining on that day.
Probably, the most attention-grabbing booth was the one with a giant inflatable sun behind it.
“This is our first energy fair,” Fred Garbo said.
Norway resident Garbo is the co-owner of Garbo-Kane LLC Integrated Solar Builders. He paired up with Shawn Kane, of Otisfield, to start the business a few years ago.
While the earth’s sun assists people in harnessing energy via solar panels, a computer assisted Garbo in explaining the product to fairgoers.
“It has been great. We’ve met some wonderful people wanting to change their lifestyle,” Garbo said.
He cited some example of business owners and individuals who have successfully explored solar options.
He was particularly proud of the products sold by Garbo-Kane, particularly the dual-axis solar trackers. The trackers swivel, he said.
“The trackers follow the sun like a sunflower they move with the sun,” he said. “They require fewer panels.”
The most frequently asked question he heard from people attending the fair was about the costs, he said. The federal government offers a tax credit on 30 percent of the cost of solar panels or solar trackers, he said.
He informed people about community solar farm options — if they do not have room on their property. Also, he talked about how Central Maine Power offers energy credits to customers who use solar power.
“Most people had an understanding of why they wanted solar” energy products, he said.
At the booth for Renewal by Andersen, a window replacement company that is an arm of Andersen Windows, sunshine is needed for the free giveaway. The Andersen representative was handing out of forget-me-not seeds. The flower seeds were attached to tiny garden stakes, which were made from 100 percent compostable plastic.
Maine home owners sometimes receive rebates for weatherizing their home. Doing so has its own payoff. Replacing windows is one form of insulation that can result in stretching heating costs for homeowners. Heat is no longer lost through poor quality or ill-fitting windows.
Another booth that addressed windows was WindowDressers, which is a nonprofit that coordinates its work with Opportunity Alliance by providing insulating window inserts to Maine residents who qualify.
The window frames are made from locally sourced pine, according to Dianne Smith.
The costs are kept to minimum by using dozens of volunteers who show up at community build days, she said. In fact, a community build is scheduled to happen in Bridgton sometime in October.
“Our target is leaky windows in Maine’s housing stock, the oldest in the nation. Inserts offer an inexpensive alternative to window replacement,” according to the website’s mission statement.
“People sign up to have window inserts put in. We go into the home and take measurement with a laser. Every window is custom fit,” Smith said.
A window insert “stops condensation, keeps heat from escaping house and cuts down on drafts,” she said. “Plus, window inserts protect the environment because homeowners spend less on fuel.”
Smith said she engaged in some networking for upcoming community builds since she was trying to drum up a volunteer base.
“Churches are great at working with us,” she said.
Having a presence at the Home Energy Fair “was well worth the drive from Rockland,” Smith said.