County launches new energy-efficiency program


County launches new energy-efficiency program


Date: October 6, 2011
by: Rachel Brown Hackney | Managing Editor



Sarasota County on Oct. 3 launched a new program designed to make it easier for residents to achieve energy efficiency in their homes.

Lee Hayes Byron, of the Sustainable Sarasota County Office, said the program, called Energy Upgrade, is the final facet of initiatives made possible by a $2.5 million U.S. Department of Energy grant the county received in 2009.

Energy Upgrade will enable residents to visit a website,, to help them identify and set priorities for saving energy, which will result in lower utility bills. 

In August 2010, Byron said, the county launched its Get Energy Smart Retrofit Program, which featured rebates for energy-saving measures as well as do-it-yourself kits for homeowners.

The new program will include workshops for both homeowners and professionals, such as heating and air-conditioning contractors. People may learn details about the workshop schedules by visiting, then clicking on the appropriate “Training” section in the list on the left-hand side of the page.

Marianne King, vice president of Staples Marketing Communications, which is partnering with the county on the Energy Upgrade initiative, told about 30 people Monday in Selby Library’s Geldbart Auditorium that Florida is the third largest consumer of electricity in the nation, because of the heavy demand for air conditioning in the summer and use of electric heat in the winter.

Yet, she said, a 2009 study undertaken by Florida State University showed people were not inclined to pursue energy-efficiency programs because of worries about cost and because of their lack of knowledge about how to get started.

Nathan Baer, vice president for client services at Staples Marketing Communications, said a checklist available on the website could save a homeowner as much as $430 per year with no additional costs.
A typical county residential user pays about $1,600 in energy costs, he said.

Along with providing assistance on the website, Baer said, the Energy Upgrade Program will partner with home improvement stores to host workshops on energy efficiency.

County officials also hope to work with large companies in the county as well as neighborhood and homeowners associations to encourage people to participate in the effort, Baer said.


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