Saturday, February 28, 2009

Taking Advantage Of The Big Ball Of Fire

Well, many of you on Facebook and Twitter know this all ready, but I finally found a moment in the middle of all the Girl Scout Cookie pushing selling to write about the switch to solar energy for the house.

First off- duh. Why this isn't just a given here in Arizona, I don't know. ALL new construction should just have it. Period. Don't whine about cost, if it's added during new construction, it goes into the mortgage. If you are lucky enough (as we were now 10 years ago) to be able to buy new and have a house built, then having your monthly payment just a little bit higher- really, is it that big of a deal? If not, then maybe having a brand-spanking new home isn't your best economic move. Besides, that was for all the builders out there anyway. But I'm getting off topic...

The entire process itself is rather uneventful. We found a local company (Bret knows a couple of the people who work for them) and a rep came over and checked out the house, then gave us estimates on what we could use to cover different amounts of energy in our home. After crunching some numbers (and a re-fi on the house), we decided on a package that would cover 80% of our total electricity usage. ALL of the approval hassles (HOA, etc.) were taken care of by the company (yes they will get a big plug at the end of this ramble). We thought we wouldn't be ready to go until March sometime, but they were ready to install by the end of February.

They began on Tuesday, and three days later they were finished. It wasn't even a full three days, so the process is very quick. The guys were nice and didn't get in my way at all (not that they would need to being outside all day. Like I go outdoors ever?) They didn't even get annoyed when I was out there snapping photos, which can be found here.

Friday morning the Town (really Gilbert, "Town"? Let's grow up all ready.) came by for inspection (for some reason Gilbert has different guidelines than other cities. Others need only SRP/APS to come), and gave us permission to use the Sun. Now we just need to wait for SRP to come by, and then the switch is complete.

What is EVERYONE curious about? Oh yea, July and August. I'll give a bill-update then. ;-)

Now, if you are curious about taking this step yourself, honestly a great website is the company we used, Sun Valley Solar Solutions ( They have pages about the process, energy comparisons, information about the incentives and tax credit, and much more. Browse around. Of course The Google will turn up more information than you know what to do with as well. I'm a big "buy local" person, so I will advocate for the local business first every time.

No, you will not get prices from the website, but you are looking at quite a commitment in the mula department. It's quite the chunk of change up front, and you have to wait a year to get your return. Hence our re-fi of the house. Rates were VERY good a month ago. The big question now with the economy currently: how is the equity in your home holding up? That really could be the deciding factor.

We're not exactly living a life of luxury, and I'm very lucky to have someone who is very smart about the big investments we make for our home and family. That being said, with some smart thinking about what you can truly afford, I think just about any home owner can make the switch to solar in some form. The costs are continuing to drop as well. Solar energy doesn't have to cover all of your electricity, and the benefits go way beyond the break you could get on your electric bill.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Solar Power The Way To Go

This was a great segment on PBS's local show Horizon on solar tax credits and refunds, and the future of renewable energy in Arizona. It was of particular interest to me because at the end of the month we're having solar panels installed on our home. More to come on that!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I hate this part right here...

I'm not a regimen kinda gal. There are some things I'm forced to stick to daily/weekly etc, like getting the kids to school, afternoon carpools, radio tracks and girl scout meetings. Everything else in my life is pretty much a free-for-all. If I feel it, I go there. But not always.

This is what happens with exercise and staying in shape. I have NEVER been one of those crazy people who live for the workout. I know these people too. I hate them. Yes, it's because I'm jealous.

The longest streak I ever had was last March, when I started back at the gym. Then we had our summer vacation away and I was STILL able to stick with it somewhat, though not nearly as often. I was pretty proud of myself. Then Bret bought Wii Fit, and that was last August. I am the one who used it the most, quite honestly. It was also more beneficial to me than several months at the gym. Not sure why, it could be a focus thing. I dropped weight in half the time by using Wii Fit.

THEN came the holidays. Between family visiting and food, it all went out the window. All the weight came back, and unfortunately plus a couple more pounds just for good measure. Finally I put my foot down (on the wii balance board) and started over again, now almost two weeks ago.

I have friends who never feel good exercising, and do it simply because it's the only way to stay fit. But they complain all the while- absolutely hate it. Me, I love it. I do. I love feeling my body work. I love being sore the next day because I pushed myself further. I love that after only a few days I feel the positive effects of getting myself moving. I feel lighter, I have more energy, and even when I look at myself I swear I look trimmer. Seriously, you would think that with how much I love it, and how good I feel, I could stick with it right? Make it habitual.

I've now reached the part I hate. I step on the scale, or do the stupid WiiFit Body Test. It KILLS my high instantly, and I want to go eat an entire bag of Doritos. I know, I probably shouldn't do the test every day. You lose inches before weight, blah blah blah. I know how it goes, I just wish I could figure out a way to be more patient AND make excercizing a permanent lifestyle change.

Because one of these days I'm going to throw the Wii remote at the picture of my Mii puffing up like a balloon when I get the results of my body test. Bret wouldn't appreciate that.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

5 Things Whenever The Heck I Want! Pt. 5

I don't think anyone enjoys or looks forward to housecleaning, but it remains a necessity that you can only deny for so long. Some can certainly put it off longer than others (just ask my husband how great I am at ignoring things that need to be cleaned or put away). So without further ado....
  1. What housekeeping chore(s) do you hate doing the most? The bathrooms. Specifically the girls bathroom. I don't care what people say, girls can be just as gross and miss the toilet just like boys. How they miss I'm not sure, but they do. I have begun having them clean their own bathroom however, so that helps my sanity and my gag reflex immensely. Dishes also annoy me simply because it's never-ending.
  2. Are there any that you like or don’t mind doing? vacuuming. Also don't mind doing laundry, but for some reason absolutely HATE putting it away. Usually have more clean clothes at the foot of my bed than in the closet.
  3. Do you have a routine throughout the week or just clean as it’s needed? Clean as needed. Usually the day we're having company over, that kicks me into gear to straighten up and make the house presentable.
  4. Do you have any odd cleaning/housekeeping quirks or rules? Not really, other than "Can you do this instead please?"
  5. What was the last thing you cleaned? The downstairs bathroom because we had company over last night.
Another question was asked, and it made me laugh. Not because of the question, but of how easy we are on our children. The question (well, questionS) are:

In your own household, how are the chores divided? Do you share the workload with your spouse/kids/whoever else lives there? Are they equally divided? If not, what’s the reason for that?

Chores are not divided in our home. Other than bathing themselves and when we tell them to do something specific, Bret and I do all the cleaning. I keep saying I'm going to put a schedule together and divide it up, but most of the time? It's just easier (and faster) to clean things myself. And, yes, I know this is not teaching them about being responsible and taking care of their living space and all that, I do. Maybe I'll take notes from Jen Tucker's list.

Honestly, I can't complain that I do more than Bret either. He cleans just as much as I do, sometimes more, plus he does all the yard work which includes mowing the lawn during Arizona summers. Just yesterday before we left for dinner with friends, he STEAM CLEANED the carpet because there were a couple of stains on it. Vacuuming wasn't enough! Sometimes I get grumpy because weekday afternoons I do the carpool, get home, do the daily dishes, get the kids on their homework, make dinner for everyone THEN have to do dishes afterwards again, but I still can't really bitch too much.

There it is. The extremely boring housecleaning routine in the Cutler home. You may now go back to your more exciting life.