Energy Upgrade Installations: Helping Diamond Oaks to shine

As the summer heat returns, residents of another Sarasota Housing Authority property will receive some relief from high utility bills, thanks to a team of dedicated specialists and volunteers.

Sarasota County Sustainability staff and a team of Energy Coaches performed home inspections and installations of efficiency devices at Diamond Oaks Apartments on May 24. The collective effort reached all 15 units at the complex and will make a lasting impact in reducing bills in each home.

Education is the Foundation

Group photo of all 5 volunteers

Our first and primary focus of these efficiency installation events is to educate the residents.

We start by explaining our Energy Upgrade Program and detail what upgrades we will be doing to ensure their home is safe and to reduce their monthly utility costs. Each client receives a folder of national and local resources, which help to connect our community members to efficiency-related financial incentives and available bill payment assistance.

The entire energy upgrade process is educational, not only for the residents, but for our volunteers as well. Our trained volunteers, or Energy Coaches, can meet and connect with others who they may not normally interact with, learn about programs and strategies to share with others, and provide their own insight to our staff. Even as employees, our volunteers are always teaching us something new that we can use in our program.

Diamond Oaks Upgrades

Sustainability staff member explains how to install a faucet aerator to other volunteers

Aside from education, installing efficiency devices helps lower utility bills for residents. At Diamond Oaks Apartments, we specifically targeted their faucets, showers, and personal lighting as areas of importance for these retrofits.

In total, we replaced 8 faucet aerators, three inefficient showerheads with WaterSense verified models and seven incandescent or compact fluorescent lightbulbs with LED equivalents. When translating these numbers into their effects on household energy and water consumption annually, the impact speaks for itself:

  • 1,589 kWh of electricity saved.
  • 8,612 gallons of water conserved.
  • $223 in utility bills saved.

In-home evaluations of appliances, fixtures, and general infrastructure are done in tandem with these installations, to ensure a holistic assessment of their property. The evaluation process can be useful in identifying larger sources of energy and water waste, especially those which are not the resident’s responsibility. Thankfully, these leaky toilets were reported to the housing authority whose maintenance staff will make the needed repairs.

Connecting with Residents

Sustainability staff member stands with a resident

The biggest reward at the end of every energy upgrade installation event is hearing the experiences of both, residents and volunteers. Just as each and every home we enter is unique, so are the personal interactions we have with those who live there. Our staff and volunteers can foster a connection with members of the community, while the residents are able to connect with resources and assistance they may need. Here are a few of these personal experiences we captured throughout the day:

  • “The guests of Energy Upgrade [were] courteous, reliable, and the most pleasant experience I had with the Energy Upgrade team.” – Rebecca, resident of Diamond Oaks
  • “This work is very important, the coaches were very helpful!” – Deborah S., resident of Diamond Oaks
  • “Our instructions were [very] well-received.” – Frank P., Energy Coach volunteer

[Photo credits: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County]

Additional Resources

If you have any questions about Sarasota County’s Energy Upgrade program or are interested in how we can help you, contact us at or 941-861-9829.


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Posted: June 20, 2023

Category: Conservation, Money Matters
Tags: Conservation, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Upgrade, Pgm_Sustain, Saving, Sustain, Sustainability, Utility, Water, WaysToSave

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