That Solar Thing – Energy Savings in Downtown Mesa

By , April 1, 2015 7:40 pm

2015-03-25 16.29.28Yes, it gets hot here. Really hot. And even when it’s not blazing hot, it’s more than likely sunny. Really sunny. It only rains about 30 days a year here. So, if you are a weather forecaster, your job is pretty easy.

Because we have SO MUCH SUN in Phoenix, it makes sense to consider solar power. A lot of sense. Solar is catching on and companies that supply solar panels to homeowners are popping up faster than weeds in March. More and more new home builders are offering solar as an option. It’s a big deal in the Valley of the Sun, so much so that in 2012, Governor Janet Napolitano observed that solar power in Arizona has the potential to make Arizona “the Persian Gulf of solar energy”.

But is solar really all that and more? It sounds great – living “off-the-grid” producing your own glorious, earth-friendly energy, selling the extra to the poor saps that are tethered to SRP and APS. Just plant a garden, start composting and get some chickens, and you are at one with Mother Earth, right?

Maybe.

 

Just like everything, it’s not always as great as the ads make it out to be. Yes, solar energy is clean. Yes, generating your own power with solar panels can save you money. But there’s a couple of catches. Big ones.

Solar panels are not cheap. A typical set-up can run $30-$40K easy. There are tax incentives to offset some of the cost or you can lease your system. But in the end, you have to factor the cost of the system into the equation.

Leases can often be a liability when selling a home. Buyers have to qualify for the lease in order to transfer the contract at COE and some buyers would rather pass the extra cost on to the seller in the form of a lease buy-out. Furthermore, banks have a hard time quantifying the value of solar panels, so the expense may not translate into the appraised value.  And let’s just skip the part for now about doing maintenance on your roof, because, well, you will have MOVE the solar panels first!

Very few people can completely de-couple their home from “the grid” – that mostly happens in the movies, not in real life. More likely you become partners with SRP or APS in the power business. Which means you are going to share their costs for maintaining a solar energy infrastructure through fees. Both APS and SRP have been giving customers with rooftop solar systems a break when it comes the the infrastructure costs as a way to stimulate the adoption of solar power generation among households. As more homes add solar panels, the costs m will be restructuring their fee schedule to ensure that solar customers who purchase less energy as a portion of the household energy is generated from solar panels, will still share a fair and equal portion of the infrastructure fees with their non-solar neighbors. A contract must be signed with the utility company and a grid charge will be added to be added to ensure that the costs for maintaining the SRP grid are fairly distributed. So between the possible lease and a contract with the utility company, there are some obligations that make this less than a spontaneous concept.

At the end of the day, when you add up all the factors, solar can still look very appealing. Very appealing, indeed.  But before you pull the trigger on this big commitment, take your time and do it right.  The trick is to maximize your savings and realize the biggest ROI you can.
Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 5.24.25 PM

How? Here’s a few ideas…

1. Do an energy audit on your home before you call the solar company. A good audit runs about $99 and can help you make your house more efficient overall so you use less power. Leaky ductwork, gaps in windows and doors, inadequate insulation, poorly vented attic space and other easy fixes can add up to a bigger bill especially when you crank up the AC. SRP and APS work with auditors to give you the information you need about your home to reduce the amount of energy you use. Using less energy is a good idea no matter what and some of these changes are a more cost-effective way to reduce your power bill. Here’s a list of auditors with SRP and APS . Here are a a few tips about energy audits from the BBB

2. Consider solar-powered components such as water heaters and HVAC systems as less expensive ways to reduce your power consumption without trading power with utilities.

3. Determine whether leasing or buying your system is going to produce the best return on your money. Here’s a handy-dandy calculator to help you out. In a nutshell, it seemed to me that bigger solar systems a more expensive to lease than to buy but it’s best to apply all the factors and crunch the numbers for your particular case.

As solar technology increases, costs for solar will decrease. Utility companies and solar panel providers will become better versed on how to provide solar energy options to thier customers. Arizona is poised to be a leader in residential solar energy. It’s a great trend – just be careful before jumping on the bandwagon.

Want to learn more? Check out:

SRP – Residential solar programs

APS - Overview of their renewable energy program

Solar City – One of the biggest suppliers of solar panels in Arizona

 

Spring Training 2015 – Cubs New Home in Mesa AZ

By , February 18, 2015 8:34 am

The 2015 Cactus League season is almost here! Soon 15 Major League Baseball teams will head to the Valley of the Sun for Spring Training, a tradition that began in 1947.

My hometown, Mesa, hosts two teams – the Oakland A’s and the Chicago Cubs. The A’s are taking over the Cubs old home field, Hohokam Stadium as that Cubs move into their new facility at Sloan Park at Riverview. And what a home it is!  Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 8.38.51 AM

The beautiful Mesa Sheraton Hotel opening this year will be a home-away-from-home for baseball fans taking a break from the frozen tundra to enjoy our unbeatable desert weather while watching their favorite baseball players hit the field. The 15,000-seat park includes 3 party decks including the Budweiser party deck with rooftop seating, a state-of-the-art workout facility and 7 practice fields, a 28ft x 88ft video board to catch all the highlights, a Kid Zone and plenty of tasty dining options including an army of food trucks that will appear during games behind Center field.

Riverview Park also features a multi-field soccer facility, an urban fishing lake and a spectacular playground with a splash park, a 50-foot climbing tower, a 75-foot zip line and plenty of room for a picnic!

Even though I am still a little bitter about the AZ Diamondbacks casting aside the desert colors of yore and becoming just another boring red baseball team, I will still try to catch a game…maybe. Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 8.39.28 AM

Here’s wishing the Cubs and the A’s a great season!

Cactus League Teams
Arizona Diamondbacks – Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale
Chicago Cubs – Sloan Park at Riverview, Mesa
Chicago White Sox – Camelback Ranch, Glendale
Cincinnati Reds – Goodyear Park, Goodyear
Cleveland Indians – Goodyear Park, Goodyear
Colorado Rockies – Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale
Kansas City Royals – Surprise Recreation Campus, Surprise
Los Angeles Angels – Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe
Los Angeles Dodgers – Camelback Ranch, Glendale
Milwaukee Brewers – Maryville Park, Phoenix
Oakland A’s – Hohokam Park, Mesa
San Diego Padres – Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria
San Francisco Giants – Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale
Seattle Mariners – Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria
Texas Rangers – Surprise Recreation Campus. Surprise

For more information and schedules for all the Cactus League teams, visit http://www.cactusleague.com/. And here is a handy dandy schedule! Play Ball!

Music Life of Riley by Kevin MacLeod, http://incompetech.com.

Kristin LaVanway
480-282-7464
kristin@hereinphoenix.com

The Light Rail Is Coming to Mesa, Baby!

By , December 16, 2014 10:04 am
Mesa Light Rail Extension

The Light Rail is Coming to Downtown Mesa

The Station at Mesa Drive

The Station at Mesa Drive

LDS Tempe

LDS Tempe

Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park

The Station at Mesa Drive

Light Rail Station at Mesa Drive in Historic Downtown Mesa – under construction and set to open in 2016.Mesa Drive

I don’t know about you, but I find this very exciting. The light rail – THE LIGHT RAIL – is coming to Downtown Mesa, practically at my doorstep!

Construction is well underway, so I can now see how far I have to stroll to get a ride to Tempe or Downtown Phoenix – you know, those downtowns that charge an arm and a leg for parking?

Have you been to downtown Phoenix lately? It’s crazy! $20 bucks so I can park my car…right! And the meters run ALL THE TIME now! I digress…

This current extension project adds stations at Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street and Mesa Drive allowing passengers access to the many shops, restaurants, museums and other cultural attractions in the corridor. What a great way to see events at the Mesa Arts Center and the Mesa Amphitheater?

Roads are restricted to one lane all through downtown but guess what? There is plenty of free parking and easy access along 1st Ave and 1st Street. So there’s n reason to miss out on all the fun on Main Street.

When completed, it is projected the Central Mesa extension will average 9,742 weekday riders who can ride the rail and enjoy the wonderful historic downtown Mesa shops and restaurants.

This current extension project is scheduled for completion towards the end of 2015 and should be up and running in early 2016. You can follow the progress and check for updates on this and future projects at the Valley Metro website…and of course I will keep you posted!

Can’t wait!

In Search of a Rosewood Guitar with an Ipe Neck…

By , October 25, 2014 11:30 am
Brazilian Wood co-Director/co-Producer/Leading Man, Bill Wetherill.
Brazilian Wood co-Director/co-Producer/Leading Man, Bill Wetherill.

I like to keep busy. That’s why I am dominating barely surviving a month-long “move to my new house/sell real estate/hire a new assistant/make my first feature film” marathon. It’s been…busy.

Given my packed schedule, I haven’t had much time to explore my new stomping ground – Downtown Mesa. It’s awesome with lots of cool shops, the new light rail, and many friendly folks. Seriously, I know approximately 5 times the number of neighbors I knew after 4 years in my old ‘hood.

Because that's what Owen Bryant plays in Brazilian Wood! And what better place to look that Mesa music mecca. Milano Music...

But today, I successfully multi-layered my schedule so I could check out some of the downtown hangouts. I had coffee at Lo-Fi with Alyssa, my new assistant, then scored lunch with co-Director/co-Producer/Leading Man, Bill. Not just lunch, but a Brazilian Wood movie-planning, photo-touring adventure so we could plan for our some upcoming shoot days while I get a little practice on my Canon.

And speaking of 5th grade, can you say saxophone?

So it makes perfect sense the we ended up at Mesa music mecca, Milano Music, in search of Owen Bryant’s Rosewood guitar with an Ipe neck. Because that’s what Owen Bryant plays in Brazilian Wood!

And speaking of 5th grade, can you say saxophone?

If you haven’t been to Milano’s, you don’t know what you are missing. Pretty much anyone with a kid in 5th-6th grade who lives within 10 miles (or more!) of Milano’s has probably had the pleasure of renting a sax and picking up the years issue of music sheets for band class. Seriously…they have been in business since 1946! Come on! That’s a long time.

Lots of guitars...
Lots of guitars…
Now, where are the left-handed guitars, because Owen is, of course, a lefty... Now, where are the left-handed guitars, because Owen is, of course, a lefty…

We all know that the cool kids played sax in the grade school band, right? So maybe Owen should be a sax player…well, that might work if we can find a wooden saxophone.

Brazilian Wood is the strongest wood on the planet. The guitar represents that inner strength that can only be destroyed by intense heat, as in deep-rooted anger. Somehow that sax suggests a different analogy, bong hits and black shades perhaps. That is so not Owen.

So we headed over the guitar section…which is massive! And started looking for the left-handed guitars because Owen is naturally a lefty. Milano’s has every kind of guitar you can imagine…even a special room for the fancy guitars – Owen is a beginner so we were looking for a budget-friendly instrument. Banjo? No…Ukelele? Uh uh…

 

 

Lots and lots of bongos!
Lots and lots of bongos!
And more Bongos!
And more Bongos!

Then suddenly, there they were…the Bongos! Lots and lots of bongos…Big ones, small ones, plain ones, fancy ones.

MilanoBongo5

 

 

 

 

Makes sense doesn’t it? A bongo is the perfect instrument for Owen…a beautiful polished wood bongo combines the symbolic strength and beauty of the guitar, with the hip, counter-culture sex appeal of the sax.

 

 

 

 

Come on, that’s probably why Matthew McConaughey is a bongo-player.

And if it’s good enough to Matthew McConaughey, it’s gotta be good enough for Owen Bryant

Next stop...Open Mic night! Next stop…Open Mic night!

 

 

 

 

 

Script change! Next stop…Open Mic Night!

Phoenix Real Estate – Myth Busters Edition 2014

By , October 22, 2014 3:02 pm

Are the rumors true? Find out now!

With the end of 2014 fast approaching, I thought it might be fun to look at some of the myths associated with the Phoenix real estate market!

Are Interest Rates Soaring?
Is the Market at a Standstill?
Are Home Prices Dropping Like a Rock?
Is it Impossible to Get a Home Loan?

You know you want to know!

If you have questions or comments, you can reach me at:
Kristin LaVanway
480-282-7464
Kristin@HereInPhoenix.com

Music courtesy of Kevin MacLeod, www.Imcompetech.com

My Own Backyard!

By , October 17, 2014 10:48 am

This morning, I picked some grapefruit. From my own tree. In my own backyard. It was awesome. Not exaggerating. It’s taken me four years to get to pick grapefruit from my own tree in my own backyard.

LotsaGrapefruit3

Four years ago, well, let’s just say I had a really, really bad day. A really bad day that was about four years in the making. That was the low point. That day when some dude knocked on my door and told me I no longer owned it. That I had 5 days to get out. I bought the house after my marriage ended. Our new beginning, nestled in a familiar neighborhood so we could move forward. That house was the anchor for my family. Instead of a new beginning, we became a statistic like millions of other families whose homes were lost when the banks booted them to the street.

Yeah, that was a really, really bad day.

LotsaGrapefruit2


So we rented. And it sucked. Not exaggerating. Renting really sucks.




It took me four years to get back on my feet. We are loving our new house. It’s in a historic neighborhood with lots of personality, right near downtown Mesa. It reminds us a lot of the home we had before everything started to go south. We love it! Funny…things worked out for us after all.
ShedReflection

Picking grapefruit this morning from my own tree in my own backyard. Yup! Pretty sweet!!

Can You Really Buy A House In Phoenix for $100K?

By , August 7, 2014 1:07 pm

Hey Bargain Shoppers! You can still buy a house in the Phoenix Metro area for $100,000 or less, but you need to be realistic…check out the video to find out what you can expect when you are buying a house with the money you have been pulling out of your couch cushions.

Can you really buy a house in Phoenix for $100,000 or less? Hmmmm...

Can you really buy a house in Phoenix for $100,000 or less? Hmmmm…

I mean really…as of August, 2014, you have 589 single family homes to choose from that fall below $100.01 – that’s 3% of the inventory. So it’s not like searching for a unicorn or anything…

Oh! You want to stay in Maricopa County? That $10,000 house in Eloy is just too far out? OK, Ms/Mr Picky…that leaves you with 300 homes. Out of 16,076. So closer to unicorn territory. And, sure many of them are at the outer reaches of the county line and can only be purchased for cash, but come on…what d’ya want for $100K?

Questions? You know where to find me!
Kristin LaVanway
kristin@hereinphoenix.com
480-282-7464

Dragon Boat Racing at Tempe Town Lake – 2014 Festival

By , March 25, 2014 11:45 am

Dragon Boat Festival 2014 at Tempe Town Lake with the Breast of the West Dragon Boat Team.

Dragon Boat teams from across the country gather for this 2-day racing event.

Dragon Boat Festival 2014

All Aboard…getting ready to race

Dragon Boat Festival 2014

Each 20 person crew is led by a steerer and a drummer who pounds out the cadence during the race.

Tempe Dragon Boat Festival

Tempe Dragon Boat Festival

The teams range from include high school and college athletes, cancer survivors, masters teams and folks who just enjoy the comradery of this amazing team sport. Yes, there’s even the occasional jester or two.

 

Dragon Boat Festival 2014

Breast of the West team paddling out

Breast cancer survivors benefit from the physical and emotional experience of Dragon Boat racing. The rowing motion is excellent therapy after a mastectomy and the emotional bonds from the team are a huge extra bonus. After dealing with cancer, it’s nice to feel like a bad ass again…

 

Dragon Boat Festival 2014

Spectating!

 

Tempe Dragon Boat Festival  - 2014

Waiting for the 1000 at the Tempe Dragon Boat Festival – 2014

Tempe Dragon Boat Festival 2014

Dragon Boat Festival 2014

Wish You Were Here!

 

 

A Crazy Idea That Could Make a Big Difference

By , August 12, 2013 3:12 pm

OneCrazyIdea

My friend Debbie has breast cancer. She was treated in all the typical ways (and that sucked, let me tell you) but in the end, the cancer is going to stick around for a while. Really for the rest of her life. Yeah, that really sucks.

So, I made a movie, basically, to convince my friend, Debbie to stop working so much and enjoy life. Not because she is going to die, but because she is still alive. And DAMN IT!! Life is too short to spend all your time stuck in a demanding, stressful job and miss out on all the amazing things that happen while you are there.

The movie is called LIVE A LITTLE:
(go ahead, click on the picture…)

Screen shot 2013-08-12 at 2.20.05 PM

Well, Debbie retired! Yeah!

So then I was thinking, and keep in mind the film isn’t even done yet, but, nevertheless, I was thinking, if this film could help Debbie, maybe it could help other people too. So I looked around and I found just the folks…Singleton Moms - an awesome non-profit here in Phoenix that provides support to single parents with cancer. Check out their website and make sure you watch this video:

Pretty awesome, right?

So here’s what we are going to do…We are going to have a Film Festival to raise money for Singleton Moms. No kidding!! It’s going to be a blast. No, not a Sundance-type of thing that lasts for days and celebrities are milling about and movie deals are struck and everyone wears sunglasses at night.

Not that kind of film festival!

More like a film festival/party where we watch great local short films about inspirational and amazing people, hear about some wonderful organizations and the amazing things they do, and most importantly, celebrate life. And then of course, we will hit the after party!!

So mark you calendars for the evening of October 10, 2013 because you won’t want to miss it! Oh and by the way, Russell Shaw HP_HeartIcon is going to be the emcee! So you know it’s going to be a good time.

Watch for more information coming very soon. I was just so excited, I couldn’t wait to tell you about it!! If you are interested in helping out, don’t be shy! Shoot me an email at Kristin@HereInPhoenix.com or call me at 480-282-7464.

HeartMakeItMatter

Identity Crisis – Phoenix Real Estate

By , August 9, 2013 1:00 pm

The shift in the Phoenix Real Estate Market has left some real estate agents with a major identity crisis. After years of rescuing underwater homeowners, dealing the evil banks and constantly changing government regulations, we are left in a fairly normal market. What do we do know!!?

I guess, when it gets right down to it, we all have to adjust to this new “normal” market. Once the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder starts to wind down, anyway!!

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help during these changing times…

Kristin LaVanway
HereInPhoenix.com
480-282-7464

Special appearance by Jane Fendelmen :)

Outro: Feeling Good, Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

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