County residents encouraged to consider becoming ‘Energy Coach’ volunteers and help low-income residents

Program to launch on Sept. 16, with 20 hours of training provided

An Energy Coach volunteer checks the air filter in a ceiling of a home. Image courtesy UF/IFAS in Sarasota County

“Learn to help low-income residents save energy, water and money at home while building sustainable communities for generations to come,” University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension and Sustainability staff members are encouraging the public.

People can participate in such efforts after becoming Energy Coach volunteers, a UF/IFAS news release explains.

Registration is open at for the program, which will launch on Sept. 16 with “20 hours of training on energy and solar basics, building impacts on human health, conducting home energy audits and much more,” the release points out.

“As an Energy Coach volunteer, you can help underserved community members in Sarasota County, learn knowledge and skills you can apply in any home, help reduce emissions that influence climate change, and much more,” said Sophia Moundous, sustainability outreach coordinator with Sarasota County’s UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability department, in the release.

The program is open to any Sarasota County resident, with financial assistance available, the release points out.

“Four of every 10 Sarasota County households are cost-burdened, according to studies, with energy costs that consume up to 19 percent of their annual household income,” the release says. “This includes many affordable housing units, where inefficient construction and appliances can lead to high energy bills,” the release notes.

“Such households often try to make ends meet by cutting costs in other vital areas,” such as nutrition and health care, the release adds, “leading to negative effects on health and family and financial stability.”

The Energy Upgrade Volunteer Training workshop, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on four consecutive Wednesdays, “aims to create a core” of trained Energy Coaches, the release points out.

“Training blends expert instruction, hands-on experience, and access to evaluation equipment,” the release continues. Among the workshop topics will be those that follow:

  • Green building basics.
  • Solar energy basics.
  • Energy equity.
  • Building impacts on human health.
  • Energy and water conservation techniques.
  • How to perform energy evaluations.
  • Hands-on, in-home energy installations.
  • Low- and no-cost energy upgrade strategies.
  • Financial assistance for energy improvements.

The $60 cost of the workshop covers educational training and materials, a required background check, and — upon workshop completion — an Energy Coach T-shirt, the release notes. “Participants must attend all four sessions,” the release says.

During registration, a person will be able to opt to attend the workshop in person or online via webinar. “Note that COVID-19 safety guidelines might result in changes or postponement of some on-site training,” the release adds.

Anyone interested in participating but concerned about the fee or any physical requirements may inquire by email to

For more information about Energy Coach training or the Energy Upgrade program, or about other sustainability topics, persons may contact Sophia Moundous, sustainability outreach coordinator, at or 861-9874.