going solar at home?

We’ve been in our house since 2008, and it seems like we ask ourselves the same question every year: what do you think about getting solar? In the beginning, we thought it would only be a couple of years before we added it to our house. Then, that whole housing bubble burst and we saw the home we purchased as a foreclosure dip down in price and the whole neighborhood along with it, and costly additions were the last thing we were thinking about. But then we had Miss L. And, as other parents know, your desire to keep the house climate at an optimal temperature suddenly increases exponentially, and you usually start using a lot more energy as a result. For us, it meant our energy bill doubling in the summer… which wasn’t a pretty sight.

So we thought, “Hmm…. maybe we should look into that solar stuff again?” But when we did, the initial expense of capitol wasn’t attractive and the 0% down plans didn’t save us any money on our monthly bill. So, we kept on keeping on with the status quo through this year.

Yet, after 2014 being the hottest year on record for California and trying to keep our a/c use as minimal as possible, this question popped up yet again. So this time, I did something about it. I contacted Sunrun.

But this time around, instead of just dismissing the option outright due to cost, we’re actually considering solar as a legitimate choice for our household.

I filled in our information online, then scheduled a chat with a Sunrun representative to walk me through the pricing options of Sunrun solar service and see what we could do. First, she shared a general diagram of what solar panels would look like on our home. I guess we’re pretty lucky that we have lots of sunny surface area!

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Then we walked through the per-month cost of a Power Purchase Agreement with Sunrun, and what that looked like in comparison to our monthly PG&E bills. And for the first time ever, that bill actually came in lower than our current averaged electricity payment… actually 25% lower!

The solar panel system wouldn’t cover all of our needs in the hot summer months, however, with this plan, we’d never get past Tier 1 in energy costs, which is the cheapest tier to be in. (p.s. we hit Tier 3 by the 12th of every month… it’s not fun!)

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SAVES US MONEY…. CHECK!

Now what about those costs right now? Well… with the solar lease that we talked about, we spend nothing out of pocket. Over 20 years, our expenditures for the system are essentially 160% of the cost of the system today. BUT, when I compared that to what you’d pay on a loan, you’d have to have less than 1.9% financing on a 20-year loan to beat that cost.

See… now this is getting complicated, because it’s at the, “Why wouldn’t you do this?” point. Right?  Ugh… why can’t I just make decisions!

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I asked about the roofing guarantee. Sunrun’s policy is a 10 year warranty on the roof. And 20-year replacement on the panels and equipment. Ok… well there’s that. Guess that’s pretty awesome too.

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So here I am. It’s cheaper than our monthly electricity bill NOW, let alone later when those inevitable rate hikes occur. It’s good for the environment now too. And the financial risk is minimal to us, and it’s actually saving us about $500 in the first year along. So why are we not signed up yet?

Well, ask Mr. M and he knows how I go into a panic-induced sweat whenever there’s a purchase exceeding $500, and then maybe you’ll understand. So can anyone help me out?  Are you insanely happy you went with solar? Does your energy company send YOU a check every month? You became the coolest family on the block? Anything?

So while I look through your comments and hope that I can get back to my Sunrun representative with an answer either way, I wanted to share a special a special offer for KimberlyMichelle.com readers. If you go solar with Sunrun before Nov. 30, you’ll get a $500 VISA® Prepaid Card. (Conditions apply.) Get a free solar quote here.

Maybe we can all save the planet and our wallet some money? Or I could just end up writing a post about this exact same thing next year as I continue to ponder my hours away…

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

left knee surgery runs in the family

Carmel Beach - Oct 2014

Did you know that Mr. M and I have both had our left knees reconstructed? Miss L doesn’t think our scars are strange, since we both share them in the same place, and instead considers poking them a silly game.

But this morning, another member of our family is going to have their left knee repaired with some plates and bolts. And we hope that he will be back to his normal playful & silly self in no time at all, just like we were.

Carmel Beach - Oct 2014

So any happy thoughts for Lincoln today, and during his 8-12 week recovery, are welcome!  As are tips on handling his recovery from other doggy parents who have been-there/done-that.

Carmel Beach - Oct 2014

I think we’ll celebrate his recovery with a romp in the snow… since his last big hurrah was at the beach a few weeks ago!

Carmel Beach - Oct 2014

frothy coffee made in the comfort of my office

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto, and received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

When I went back to work after Miss L was born, I quickly realized that I was going to need an extra “pick-me-up” to make it through each day. I wanted to invest in one of those fancy new “single cup” coffee machines for my office, but wasn’t sure about the splurge. So, being the nerd that I am, I opened up Excel and did a quick calculation on how quickly I would break even in making coffee vs. buying coffee. And when I saw that it was basically 1.5 months to break even, I ran out to Target and got myself a machine!

And for the past four years, I’ve been enjoying a cup of coffee in the comfort of my office. The only problem is that… well… it’s coffee. And some days, I’m tempted when I drive by three stores lorded over by that evil green villanness and her expensive fancy schmancy drinks. Because even with all the fancy Torani syrup I can muster, a drip cup of coffee isn’t a cappuccino.

But hey, it’s cheap and I’m saving time and $3+ every morning? And it’s got caffeine? But oh… to enjoy that lovely foamy milk goodness in the comfort of my office chair. A girl can dream, can’t she?

So I’m not going to lie, but I was completely skeptical when I saw the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Genio machine and its claims that it, “brews your coffeehouse favorites in less than one minute.” Real “foamy milk” in my office due to the “15-bar pressure system that creates a velvety layer of crema” in every cup? Bet that tastes super yummy?

But then I got the chance to try it out. And guess what… it does. It tastes amazingly yummy. Like, better than that green lady’s drinks yummy! And I’m officially hooked!

As of this morning, I’ve been enjoying this machine for 4 weeks. And I’ve yet to source my coffee from anything other than this machine. In fact, I get excited about getting to my office and making my morning drink!

But there is one big downside.

If you are friends with co-workers, and they see you carrying around your own mug with creamy white foam, then you’ll be forced to share. But then again, you might be able to barter a cappuccino for cookies and other treats, and that might not be so bad after all.

So far I’ve been purchasing all of my capsules online from Amazon.com, but starting this fall, I’ll be able to pick up NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto capsules for purchase down the street at my local Target. The frothy 2-capsule drinks work out to be a little over $1 each to purchase, so it’s definitely a higher cost than the drip coffees, but a bargain compared to anything a barista wants to charge me.

But the best news of all… is that I get to share this magical machine with one of my dear readers!

Just leave a comment using the Rafflecopter app below and share which NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto variety you’d be most excited to try, and you’ll be entered to win your own NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Genio machine!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll pick a winner from all the comments left on the post on October 29th! GOOD LUCK!

yee-haw: a football trip to Dallas

The day the 2014 UCLA football schedule was set in stone, my mom called me with a little bit of excitement. “Did you see which game is on my birthday weekend? Let’s go!” Our previous mother-daughter UCLA football trip had been to Notre Dame, so it just seemed fitting that our next trip would involve the shrine to football known as “AT&T Stadium” … and off to Dallas we went!

While we stayed in downtown Dallas (which… was not as big as it was in my memory of the TV-intro theme song) we decided to make the most of the trip with some tourist fun as well as spending Saturday at the game!

After driving our Fiat 500-L from the airport to the Dallas Fairmont (btw… don’t even THINK about buying that vehicle… ever), we had lunch at Twisted Root Burger Co. in Deep Ellum thanks to the great suggestion from Brooke.  Then we checked in, unpacked, and then headed to the Dallas Museum of Art for their late night Thursday hours.

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It amazes me how much more I like museums at night… perhaps because there’s usually music and lots of other people? Either way, it was a great museum that was steps away from our hotel and free!

On Friday, we drove about 35 minutes over to Fort Worth and visited the stockyards and downtown.

We watched the morning longhorn cattle drive through the streets near the stockyards. I see them at the State Fair each year, but to see them just meandering through the streets is definitely fun, and they truly are just beautiful animals.

And… I made my mom hop on a longhorn for, what is by far, the best $5 tourist-trap photo-op I’ve ever experienced! You might be able to see the fear in her eyes… but if it wasn’t her birthday that day, I’m not quite sure this photo would have happened!

That afternoon, due to the rain, we headed indoors again but this time to the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum. In addition to the archives and library, they also had an Oscar de la Renta exhibit filled with fashions worn by the first ladies and many celebrities as well. Afterwards, on the advice of my good friend Meagan (who went to SMU), we indulged in some frozen custard at Wild About Harrys.

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And then it was FINALLY gameday! We spent our Saturday morning with a cup of coffee as we wandered down to the “grassy knoll” and then grabbed an Uber ride to the Dallas Zoo… as the rain had spoiled our plans to visit the Fort Worth Zoo the day before. We strolled around the entire zoo and got in our exercise, before heading back to the hotel to get dressed in blue and drive on out to Arlington.

And then… there was the whole reason we came. The UCLA v. Texas football game!

I can now say, without a doubt, that AT&T stadium is a true shrine to football. It’s beautiful inside and out, and everything about it was wonderful. We parked with ease just steps away from the stadium (for $45), dealt with all the bag searching and ticket scanning as you enter the perimeter of the stadium so you just walked in/out of the building as you wanted, and enjoyed the Bruin Bash tailgate right out the western entrance!

But… things might also just look really nice when you end up winning the game! (That said… I still adore Notre Dame and we lost that game in spectacular fashion)

We chose to wait out the parking lot traffic by enjoying the pop-up nightclub outside the stadium with a few thousand other UCLA fans who were doing the same thing. Then we braved the 1am traffic back to the hotel, only run into new friends that we had just made from the game in the lobby of the hotel along with old friends from around the block of my childhood home. And when I flipped through Facebook and Instagram that night to see how many other people I hadn’t run into, it was another opportunity to realize just how fun it is to be Bruin.

And the weekend was all thanks to my crazy mom, who has become, for better or worse, about 1000x the UCLA fan I’ll ever be. Happy birthday mom!

say goodbye to plastic bags California!

EnviroSax

California did something pretty big today. The state banned single-use plastic bags.

This might not be news to residents in cities that had already banned the bags (i.e. San Francisco, Santa Monica, Davis, etc.), but it’s definitely going to take some getting used to for the majority of residents.

In the past few years we have accumulated a bazillion “reusable” bags in our house. I keep them in the laundry room cabinets, right near the door, so we can grab them on the way out for the day. I also keep some in the trunk of the car for Farmer’s Market and other shopping occasions. But those bags are often forgotten because they’re bulky to take INTO the store, especially when you’re shopping at the mall or Target for just a couple of things.

For me, though, the bags that have been invaluable to me over the past 6 years have been EnviroSax. I bought 3 of them from one of the sample sale sites, and they’ve turned out to be the best of all the bags I’ve tried. They’re small, light, they easily fold back into place, and they hold a great deal of things in an easy to carry bag! I keep one in my purse at all times, so the only time I forget it is when I switch purses and forget to switch the contents over too!

But with the new ban, it looks like I should stock up now and keep them in multiple purses and shove a few more of those extra bags we have in the car as well!

So, California residents, do you have to change your habits or are you already carrying your bag to and from the stores? Anyone have any great tips they want to share?

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