This November, I and other Williams students participated in “Winter Blitz,” an annual event in which student volunteers help winterize community members’ homes. This year, as a COVID pivot, we made window inserts with the nonprofit group WindowDressers to help insulate homes in the local community.
WindowDressers’s work is important for several reasons. First, the inserts help residents save money on energy each year by preventing heat from escaping through tiny gaps and thin glass in old windows. Second, by reducing heat loss, it helps lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.
This year, we operated differently from previous years, due to the ongoing pandemic. Instead of going into people’s homes to winterize, we helped to construct inserts off-site.
The inserts are made with a wood frame, covered with two sides of plastic wrap. As one of the community volunteers explained to me, the air between the two layers of plastic wrap is what provides the additional insulation.
When I volunteered, I worked on wrapping the plastic onto the frames. I needed to ensure that the plastic did not wrinkle or crease, and that it was attached firmly onto the adhesive strips on the frame’s sides. Pulling on the sides of the wrap to eliminate creases was interesting, because it was like a puzzle. From that point, the windows could be sent to the heat gun station to shrink any remaining wrinkles, followed by another volunteer securing the plastic wrap with clear tape, and a final station that applied the foam gasket, readying it for installation.
I enjoyed meeting and working with fellow students from Williams, as well as members of the local community. Overall, I found working with WindowDressers to be fulfilling and worthwhile.
–Tendai Coady, ‘25