Members of public invited to become ‘energy coaches’ through county program

Training provided by UF/IFAS will help individuals learn energy- and water-saving techniques to help homeowners lower expenses

Image courtesy UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability in Sarasota County

The University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension team in Sarasota County is inviting members of the public to become “energy coach” volunteers.

“Learn to help low-income residents save energy, water, and money at home while making Sarasota more equitable and sustainable,” a UF/IFAS news release says.

Registration is open at for this program, which includes 12 hours of training on home energy systems and energy- and water-saving techniques, as well as how to conduct virtual consultations with community members, the release adds.

“As an energy coach volunteer, you can help underserved community members in Sarasota County and protect the environment while you do it,” said Alia Garret, energy program specialist with Sarasota County’s UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability office, in the release.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lower-income residents in the community spend up to 19% of their annual income on energy expenditures, the release points out. “For higher-income residents, though,” the release notes, that annual cost is just 2 to 3%. Often, the inefficient construction and aged appliances common in older, more affordable housing units combine to inflate energy bills, the release says.

“Energy coach volunteers take key steps to tackle this issue by receiving extensive training from the county’s UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability department,” the release points out. “The volunteer training prepares coaches to directly assist families in saving money while conserving our planet’s natural resources,” the release adds.

Energy coaches must attend all four training sessions that have been scheduled, the release emphasizes. Those are set for March 2, 9, 16, and 30; they will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. The last session will include “socially distant, on-site, hands-on training and demonstrations,” as well as graduation and a celebration, the release says. “Note that COVID-19 safety guidelines might result in changes to the on-site training day,” the release adds.

Among the training topics will be the following:

  • Low and no-cost energy upgrade strategies.
  • Energy equity.
  • Financial assistance for energy improvements.
  • How to perform remote energy evaluations.
  • Indoor health concerns.
  • How to install devices.

Energy coach volunteers also will assemble kits and organize supplies, present the UF/IFAS Energy Upgrade webinar, drop off kits to residents, engage in consultations with community members, and host events. “If you have another skill set you think may benefit the program, please contact us (,” the release encourages the public.

The $20 workshop cost covers the training and educational materials, a required background check, and, upon workshop completion, “an Energy Coach T-shirt,” the release says.

Interested individuals with concerns about the fee or any physical requirements may inquire about those by email to