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Greg Cowart - Mortgage Broker or Lender at The Securus Group
Greg Cowart - Roseville Loan Guy

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PG&E begins work on Roseville gas projects

Earlier this week PG&E began work on a long-awaited modernization project on four miles of natural gas transmission lines and over 100 yards of distribution lines in the city of Roseville. Completion of all parts of the project is expected to take up to six months.

 “These pipe replacement projects will allow PG&E to meet the increasing demand for natural gas to support additional growth in the area and improve the safety and integrity of the natural gas system,” said Erik Kurtz, gas distribution superintendent for PG&E’s Sierra Division. “During these projects, we will work to minimize impacts to customers as best we can, and we very much appreciate the support and patience of area residents and businesses.”pgelogo-roseville-mortgage

The Northern and Central California energy giant will be contacting residents and business owners in the affected areas to provide information and answer questions. Per regular safety guidelines they will vent natural gas from the pipelines they’ll be working on while they work, but the PG&E is encouraging anyone who has concerns about natural gas odors in the area to call them at (800) 743-5000.

The Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM)… What is it?

What is an EEM and is it even relevant in the world of real estate in the Roseville/Rocklin area or greater Sacramento?

EEM-Roseville-Rocklin-MortgageWhether you’re purchasing or refinancing, today’s reality is that many of us should consider making energy conservation improvements to our homes. Most homes can benefit from energy upgrades.

Any home built before 1994 should benefit from an Energy Efficient Mortgage. Why?  Simple… The energy codes used up until 1993 are no longer industry standard.  Mechanical systems, insulation levels, and water heaters are the main determining factor in a home’s energy consumption.  Those installed before 1994 are less efficient, not to mention they are old!  With the Energy Efficient Mortgage, you can renew and upgrade all the critical factors that determine the energy consumption of your home, and include the total cost in your home loan.

Personal consumption has increased along with energy costs.  Today’s homes use electronics to manage almost everything, from ovens, microwaves and refrigerators, to DVRs, iPods, and tablet computers; not to mention all the battery chargers needed to keep them running.  Though prices are relatively stable, we use almost 25% more electricity today than we did in 1993.  Natural gas, however, is a different story.  Most of Californians cook, heat their homes, and their water, with gas.  Our consumption has increased a modest 10%, while the price has skyrocketed over 70%.

Simply stated, utility bills have become the second largest monthly expense of modern living, behind the mortgage or rent payment. An Energy Efficient Mortgage may lower both of these costs, definitely utility bills and overall monthly expenses.

There is plenty opportunity to take advantage of an Energy Efficient Mortgage for those looking for homes in Roseville/Rocklin or anywhere in the greater Sacramento market. Like most of the lesser-known special programs ignored by other lenders I’ve become THE local expert in the Energy Efficient Mortgage! Give me a call any time if you’d like more information.

~Greg Cowart
(916) 412-3313

Saturday 4.19: Get your green on!

This Saturday, 4.19.2012, the Roseville Utility Exploration Center is putting on it’s 5th annual “Celebrate The EARTH Festival”. Free for the entire family from 1AM – 4 PM. Check out the video for more detials…


Roseville Electric Wins Energy Award

Roseville Electric’s small business lighting program has been named the Best Energy Program for a medium size utility by the California Municipal Utility Association. Roseville Electric leveraged funds received through the federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant to provide rebates directly to small businesses that upgraded their lighting to more efficient technology.

“Contractor-driven rebate programs benefit the customers, the utility and help support the local economy. This was the best way to get federal funds aimed at stimulating the economy into the local economy quickly,” said Electric Retail Energy Services Supervisor Marty Bailey.

The program reduces small business customers monthly utility bills, reduces Roseville Electric’s overall energy demand and supported lighting contractors.

By offering contractors higher rebate incentives, Roseville’s community-owned utility provided small business customers with a complete lighting overhaul for little or no out-of-pocket cost.

“The California Municipal Utility Association represents the very best in community outreach and resource efficiency amongst public utilities throughout the state,” said Executive Director Dave Modisette. “Working creatively to implement new program, these award winners demonstrate clearly how California’s publicly owned utilities are on the forefront of innovative energy and water programs.”

Let’s talk about gas prices… And interest rates.

Let’s talk about gasoline for a few moments. Surprisingly, doing so may afford some insight into other subjects, maybe even the level of interest rates.

The place to start, I suspect, is here: We have heard a lot of whoppers about how the current high price of gasoline at the pump either was engineered by Obama or was the result of Obama’s lack of obvious oil-price-easing activities. In short, it’s because of what Obama did (or, as the case may be, it resulted from all Obama didn’t do).

Most economists look at this argument and respond with a very obvious point. Obama couldn’t cause gas prices to rise if he wanted to. Sadly, he isn’t much more proficient at making gas prices fall, either.

There is a belief, however (“Drill, Baby, Drill”) that Obama could bring prices down if he found ways to encourage greater gas production in America. An obvious problem here is that we have not only already increased our production – largely because of technology that unlocks the oil heretofore bound up in shale deposits in a vast number of locations beneath the American soil (note for example, North Dakota) – but we even graduated to the status of net oil exporter (that’s right, we export more oil than we import) this past year.

It was assumed that the price of oil would decline if we seemed to have enough of it. But no. The price of oil is determined by “the international market,” and thus it depends on the level of demand for oil across the world, and the key there is whether OPEC wants to boost the price of oil or to bring it down.

A grocery store, after all, can lower the price at which it sells hot dogs. But when an international chain of supermarkets sets the price higher, the grocery story may gain several new fans, but the price of its hot dogs will eventually move to the price established in the international markets.

This has raised the question of why OPEC countries are so “greedy” – why they don’t just accept a lower price when the profits they are making by producing it for a few bucks a barrel and selling it for over $100 are outrageous (the same, of course, can be asked of American oil companies. The Saudis, among others, have no lock of greediness)?

In any case, there is an obvious answer… If you are the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, for example, and the only things your country has for its people – like food, like the essentials of living, as well as the luxuries – are imported, not grown or manufactured at home and those imports are paid for with oil money, you want to manage your national resource with great (and greedy) care. Otherwise, you will end up thrown out of office and into the same dustheap of history where Mubarak and Gaddafi and others find themselves.

As Bibal Qabalan noted in NPR’s Planet Money, every gallon of gas we buy has an unspecified but costly tax within it. “Like it or not, the bill for keeping the Persian Gulf monarchies in power is now being footed by every American. Every time we fuel our car we send an extra 35 cents per gallon, or roughly $6 per fill up, to the Save the King Foundation. Since oil goes into everything we buy from food to plastics, this adds about $1,500 annually to the expenditures of the average American family.”

Is it a political issue, therefore? Absolutely. But neither Obama nor any other American politician can do much about it – except throw his and her support behind our own energy program, and get us into electric cars, still a somewhat dubious proposition, especially in the short term.

The Saudis don’t want to make us overly angry. So they also work to keep oil prices from rising too high – whatever that might prove to be. Studies have shown that, even as oil prices rise still further, “Americans may protest loudly, but their economic behavior indicates a remarkable indifference to the price of oil.”

And what might this have to do with interest rates? It just fits into a similar category. Interest rates, particularly today, are established in world markets. They depend on how well the euro happens to be faring, the psychology of certain fiscal and political problems – from Greece to Spain to Iran to Brazil – and other matters. To gain some understanding of why rates are going where they’re going, we have to dig very, very deep. And we’re still likely to come up with little to no gain – either in understanding or in profit… And so it is at this moment.

Can a GMO alleviate our dependence on foreign oil?

Someone just invented a GMO that creates fuel by taking in sunshine, fresh air, and CO2. Yes, fuel that we can use to power our cars. Check it out!

US Climate bill passes the house, but just barely…

I figure this is appropriate on the hottest day of 2009 (so far)…

This past week the House of Representatives passed a landmark bill that will propel our nation toward a clean energy future.  The American Clean Energy and Security Act passed the House 219 – 212.
It was a very close vote and now the discussion moves to the Senate.

Energy Saving = Money Saving and higher property values: Home Improvement Ideas

Home improvements are often thought of as a way increase one’s property value. And they are. A “green” home will fetch considerably more on the resale market than the exact same home next door without the energy efficient improvements. There are even loans for homes in Roseville specifically for energy efficient improvements. Here in Roseville and the rest of the Sacramento area most of us will start with upgrading insulation, roofing, water heaters, and AC Systems due to the extreme changes in the temperature from the cold of winter to the sweltering summers. Our utility bills are a major part of monthly expenses, second to our mortgage payment usually, and this is one way to drastically cut that expense. Going green in our homes is the future in our new world. Everything you need can be found at local hardware stores (there are two Home Depots, a Lowes, Ace, and an Orchard Supply in Roseville alone) and the helpful staff at these stores can usually help with ideas if you need them. Of course if you’re like me and get into trouble when taking on projects too big for what I can do please, leave it to a professional!

Kitchen remodels have proven to be the best dollar for dollar investment in your home. High quality Energy Star appliances and possibly a new faucet is where you for green here. There are many ways to go and you don’t have to replace everything at once. If you’re already doing counter-tops and cabinets it’s the right time to consider a new sink and an efficient faucet (Roseville is moving to metered water soon from what I hear). It will not cost too much and will be easy to install while the counter top is off or cabinets are out.

The bathroom is probably the next best update for increasing your homes value as well as conserving. An update to more efficient faucets, toilets, and shower heads are more than worth the minimal investment. Federal regulations guarantee that any of these replacements purchased today qualify as low-flow. The restrictions require 1.6 gallons of water per flush, and bath faucets and shower heads use no more than two and a half gallons of water per minute (again, Roseville is supposed to be moving to metered water soon).

The laundry room is another place to go green and save a little money as well. Just remember there is no such thing as an Energy Star compliant dryer. So if you see one at a store with the Energy Star sticker on it don’t fall for it. That doesn’t mean some dryers are not more energy efficient than another. A dryer with a moisture sensor will help save on every load, equaling considerable savings in energy and money when you look at it over a year long period.

All of these upgrades can make your home more valuable on the resale market. While homes in Roseville have held their value better than most areas in South Placer or the greater Sacramento market having that advantage will help you get top dollar for your home.

And don’t forget the compact fluorescent light bulbs! Energy Star claims each one will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75% less energy and lasts about ten times longer than the old-school bulbs.

~Greg – The Roseville Loan Expert

Earth Day

Nothing about loans in Roseville for this post but, HAPPY EARTH DAY! It’s actually tomorrow (4.22.09) but just in case I don’t blog tomorrow….