Help Your Community, Planet, and Wallet – Register to be an Energy Coach Today!

Are you interested in learning how to save energy and water while helping low-income families in Sarasota County? Our goal is to make Sarasota a more equitable and sustainable place, but we need your help!

Become a Sarasota County Energy Coach volunteer by attending our upcoming four-session, in-person training series to learn energy and water saving techniques to aid low-income community members. Registration is now open!

Energy & Cost Burdens

The graph shows that low-income homeowners and renters spend 13-19% of their income on energy bills. Median income and higher homeowners and renters spend just 2-3% on energy bills.
Credit: U.S. Department of Energy LEAD Tool

Thirty percent of households in Sarasota County are cost-burdened, meaning more than 30% of their annual earnings are spent on housing costs. Utility and water bills are a large contributor to this disparity – with low- to median-income households in Sarasota paying up to 19% of their annual income on energy costs.  For households at or above the median income, that annual cost averages just 2-3 percent, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy. Due to poor infrastructure and outdated appliances, affordable and public housing units usually have higher energy bills than others.

Energy burden refers to the proportion of household income paid towards energy expenses. Higher energy burdens result in more severe tradeoffs between utility costs and other necessities, which can negative impacts on family stability, economic development, and human health. Often, these negative impacts to one’s health are caused by poor indoor air quality or insufficient insulation and ventilation.

Energy Coach volunteers take key steps against this disparity, by receiving hands-on training from Sarasota County Sustainability. These courses teach Energy Coaches the strategies to help families save money through education and distribution of efficiency devices to low-income residents.

Energy Coach Volunteer Program

Energy Coach installs a water-efficient faucet aerator
Credit: Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability

Energy Coaches attend a four-session, in-person course to learn energy and water saving techniques to aid low-income community members. Coaches have the opportunity to conduct 1:1 consultations with participants, distribute do-it-yourself DIY Energy kits, perform audits and installations, and join other outreach and engagement initiatives.

The training for Energy Coaches includes learning:

  • Low and no-cost Energy Upgrade strategies
  • Energy equity
  • Financial assistance for energy improvements
  • How to perform remote energy evaluations
  • Indoor health warning signs
  • How to install devices & more!

New Updates and Benefits

Energy Coaches are volunteers for Sarasota County’s Energy Upgrade program that have conducted in-home energy and water evaluations and efficiency upgrades since 2018. Volunteers will gain knowledge on energy- and water-efficiency while enjoying direct hands-on training.

There are also many other ways to assist this program. Other tasks include assembling energy kits, presenting the Energy Upgrade class in-person or virtually, tabling at events, minor in-home installations, and more. Your abilities can help us serve more Sarasota County residents, so if you have another skill set you think may support this program, please email sustainablesarastoa@scgov.net.

Two Energy Coaches are tabling at a Hope for Communities event
Credit: Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability

There are many other benefits to becoming an Energy Coach volunteer. As an Energy Coach, you will:

  • Help lead Sarasota County to a more sustainable future
  • Protect the environment
  • Help the underserved population in Sarasota County
  • Alleviate the effects of climate change and carbon emissions
  • Become a community environmental steward and leader
  • Bring awareness to others in the community about these issues
  • Experience hands-on volunteering efforts
  • Learn knowledge and skills you can apply in your home
  • And more!

 

Register Now for Energy Coach Training This February – March

Registration is now open for Sarasota County’s training session for the Energy Coach volunteer program. You can register through Eventbrite here.

Energy Coaches must attend all four training sessions, taking place February 21 and 28 and March 7 and 9 at 9:00 am each day. The last

session will include on-site, hands-on training and demos, group energy evaluations, and a graduation and celebration.

In addition, we are interested in adding more Spanish-speaking and bilingual volunteers to our team, although this is not a requirement.

Energy Upgrade class being taught at Mothers Helping Mothers
Credit: Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability

Additional Information and Quick Links

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, but are concerned about physical limitations, affording the training fee at this time, or are not available for the listed training dates, please contact SustainableSarasota@scgov.net.

Become an Energy Coach to help underserved community members in Sarasota County and save the planet while you do it!

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Posted: January 24, 2023


Category: Conservation
Tags: Energy, Pgm_Sustain, Sustainability, Volunteer


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