WILLIAMSTOWN -- For the sixth year running, Williams College students will offer free weatherization services for low-income homes in Williamstown, North Adams, Adams and Pownal. The one-day program, known as Winter Blitz, will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Winter Blitz was started by Williams students and is funded by the college's Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives. Other campus groups, including the Lehman Council for Community Engagement, help to coordinate the program.
Students will provide a variety of weatherization services, including pipe wrapping; the installation of weather stripping on doors and windows and the sealing of electrical outlets and light switches. The group will also distribute energy efficient LED light bulbs to participating households.
The federal government recently predicted that households relying on natural gas, propane and electricity for heating will have higher heating bills this winter as energy prices climb. Simple weatherization measures such as weather stripping can significantly lower monthly heating costs.
About 200 students participated in last year's program, which involved about 40 homes, mostly in Williamstown and North Adams. As of last week, just under 20 households had signed up, but more were expected. The signup period will continue through October, but late signups will also be considered.
Teams comprised of five or six students will be assigned to a house, with each team weatherizing about two houses over the course of the day.
Alice Stears ‘15, one of three core members of the Winter Blitz planning committee, said last week that the major recruiting push had yet to begin, but she expected about the same number of participants as last year. In previous years, students at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts have also participated.
Stears noted that the Winter Blitz services are all quite basic. (Simple materials and techniques help to maximize the efficiency of the program.)
"It's sometimes hard because we are limited as to what we can do to help people and sometimes we are confronted with homes that need a lot more work than we can provide." she said. Students may be able to connect households with other state or local groups (such as Berkshire Community Action Council) when more extensive work is required.
Any student can sign up, said Angela Liu ‘15, another core member of the planning committee. She especially encouraged members of campus groups and freshman entries to sign up together. Winter Blitz is a great opportunity for students who feel stuck on campus to get out into the community, she said.
"We really see it as a way to get them off the campus, have them meet some people in the community, and also as a way of bonding with each other," she said. "So that's what we really hope to get out of it."
Stears also valued the opportunity for community engagement: "It's a real sense of accomplishment, when you go to a home for a couple of hours and interact with the homeowner and have the sense that you've done something to really impact their life."
Winter Blitz will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Households in Williamstown, North Adams, Adams and Pownal may sign up by calling 413-547-1787 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.