Saving $

I have a personal interest in saving money and keeping the environment clean.  I hope you will enjoy some of my research! What is $20? What can you do with $160?   It sure can buy a dinner and a movie!  So why not cut the little things that can add up to much more.  Here are a few tips that will help!

  1. Turning a computer that runs all day when you are not there off will save you $160/year.
  2. Converting 20 light bulbs to florescence will save you on a average $100.00
  3. Not using and shutting off that favorite old refrigerator that you put outside in the garage will save you also lots of electricity. IT works 2 x harder than the one inside your home!
  4. Your insulation for new construction should be R39-R49 not the good old 30.  Also if your ceilings are not insulated with R 30, then get the R 39 or R49!
  5. Keeping your Air conditioner at 75 rather than 70 will save also lots on electricity.

For more information go to Bandera Electric Co-op http://www.banderaelectric.com/BECenergysavetips.htm

You add all these up and you could come up with $1000’s in JUST your electrical bill in 1 year. So that may almost buy you a vacation without putting any money in a savings! Or do a home improvement for free.    Let me know if you wish me to send you a free Guide to Cost-Cutting Conservation Measures booklet.

Spring is coming!

Spring is around the corner and time to plant your garden, trees and start off your year.  Here are some items that I would like to share.  If you have items to share, please send me a email. I would love to share information to everyone else.

I do have one piece of Real Estate news. Spring is here and things will start to pick up for people that want to buy and sell property. Your Referrals are very much appreciated and I promise to work hard for your friends and relatives!

Plant potatoes NOW!  (they should be planted in February here in the Hill Country) Cover with hay also helps keep the moisture in.

Plant your trees or any plant that is dormant NOW!, Then water and then mulch.

Prune end of the month. If you need information on how to prune your plants, please let me know.

I attempt to do everything I can organically and here are a few things I do.

Chewing tobacco tea mixed with garlic juice and Cayenne peppers and orange oil with a little dawn dish soap as a pretty good pesticide.
Herbicide 20% vinegar (sold in hardware stores, feed and home garden stores) put in on anything green will kill the leaves and if you do it long enough, it will not come back up. It takes energy to come out of the ground and produce leaves.

Sulfur is also good for powdery mildew, must be sprayed on.
Garrett Juice is a mix of organic items that you spray on the leaves and it will really help with the growth and the strength of your plants. They will be very healthy and much more disease resistant if and when something happens to them.

Also there is a product that is produced just a few miles from Hondo that is called “Medina”. They have 2 awesome products, perhaps even more than that. Their products you can buy in most stores including Home Depot, feed stores and many other places. The price may be cheaper at your local store, so don’t make a special trip unless you need more than 1 gallon of it. The Soil Stimulator mixed with Molasses (can be purchased cheaper at a feed store – same as feed molasses)  This will help the soil with micro nutrients and get the microbes start working.

Another great product that is called “Green Sand”  This Green Sand comes from ancient beaches and provide many micro nutrients that help get the soil active again. This will help loosen soils and make things more green than you have ever seen.  A healthy plant will be stronger and more disease resistant. Just like the human body.  Green Sand along with the Medina products can be bought here in Bandera at the Ace Hardware. The cost of 5 lbs of green sand is the same as 40 lbs..  $9 ish.. so buy  the 40 lbs and give your grass a good boost too.  These do NOT burn but should be watered in.

If you wish to grow items from cuttings, then in the middle of March is a good time to start.  I have a website that discusses on how to root grapes, so if you wish to read that please visit:  http://www.blackspanishgrapes.com Almost any plant can be grown from a cutting of its mother plant.

Watch what bugs you kill! The Mud Dobber Wasp should not be killed, perhaps relocated, but never killed. They eat the bad spiders!! Brown Recluse and Black Widow Spiders.

Lady bugs/Beatles love to eat lots of buts that we don’t want, so encourage them. Also there is a fly that looks like a bee but isn’t one. They are better pollinators then bee’s. BUT PLEASE Don’t kill Bee’s . We are losing them from pesticides and if we don’t have Bee’s we won’t have honey and our crops won’t produce products because they cannot get pollinated.  Ya got the picture.

SEPTIC Information: Another item of importance that we forget and ignore is our septic tanks.. I get these calls from Septic Savor and there are other products on the market to help with keeping your septic working.  Medina products has come up with a 1 gallon liquid (from $19-$22) that claims that if you use it every month that you “should” not have to ever clean out your septic.  I like doing business with local companies, so they have my business.  No matter what you use, doing it is the important part.  Put it as a “to do” on the 1st of each month. Never put more than what you eat in the septic.  Get the “septic friendly” paper and never use more than absolutely needed.  Never put grease or paper towels, or whole food products down the drain. Rather compost it, add leaves, a bit of dirt, then you will have nice dirt for your garden in the future. DON’T forget to put all of your coffee and coffee grounds in the compost!  AND if you are having a problem with a plant that does not want to grow, give it some old cold coffee.  Watch it grow.  This is good for the ground and easier on your septic. Cost to get your septic pumped is $250 + and the backup will happen Sunday when you have company.  Murphy’s law rules!

That’s it for this news letter!  Thank you for reading this! Forward to anyone that you may feel is interested!

Real Estate is about Jobs, Posted by Ron

Later this week, the Treasury Department will issue a report recommending changes to the structure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  This is the latest development in a years-long debate over what the government’s role in housing should be.

As REALTORS®, we know better than anyone else just how vital housing is to families and to our nation.

Fact:  For every additional 1,000 home sales, about 500 jobs are added to the economy.  Those are real jobs that give our families, friends and neighbors a chance to work.

Fact:  Every home purchase pumps $60,000 into the economy.

Fact:  Housing accounts for more than 15 percent of the national gross domestic product.

Fact:  Home owners pay 80 to 90 percent of ALL federal income taxes.

We need to change the dialog.   Critics say housing is a drain on federal resources.  We know better.  Housing is the engine that drives our national economy. Eight of the last ten recessions have ended as a result of robust housing markets.  The other two ended as a result of war spending.  The choice is easy.  America needs a healthy housing market to thrive.

In the days ahead, NAR will be reaching out to Congress and the White House to emphasize the clear connection between housing, jobs and the economy.  Rather than limit support for housing, and the availability of credit, NAR is calling on Congress and the White House to advance policies that will move the housing market back to a healthy 5.5 million sales, where it SHOULD be.

We will be asking lawmakers to:

  • Preserve the mortgage interest deduction at current levels.
  • Move the credit pendulum to equilibrium, defined by a median credit score of 720.
  • Maintain government backing in the mortgage market as part of GSE Reform.

These three steps would help bring the housing market back to a normal level, possibly generating an additional 1 million home sales and 500,000 jobs.

As the voice for real estate, we hope that Congress and White House gets the message:  real estate is all about jobs.

I invite all of you to engage with us.  Go to Realtor.org/homeownership for the latest information and to see how you can join the movement. — Ron Phipps, 2011 NAR President

Bandera Electric Co-op Monitoring Weather

This morning, ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) issued an Advisory due to the potential for temperatures below freezing across most of the state.  Although they do not anticipate such events, ERCOT has asked utilities to be prepared for load shed events (or rolling outages) as they could happen quickly.

The State Operations Center has alerted the PUC (Public Utility Commission) that Texas is facing another round of winter weather this week, particularly Tuesday and Wednesday.

Conservation is critical.  We continue to ask members to use as little electricity as possible and to take the following conservation steps:

  • Turn off all unnecessary lights. Use lights only in the room you are in.  If you have outdoor lights or any other unnecessary lights, turn those off.
  • Minimize appliance usage. If it isn’t a necessity, don’t use it.  For example, save your wash for the weekend.  Try to avoid using the dishwasher.  If you do have to use an appliance, use it in the afternoon between the hours of 2 and 6.  This is when demand is at its lowest.
  • Turn things off. The TV, your computer, your radio – unless you are using them, turn them off.  Don’t run errands and leave these things on.
  • Unplug things around the house. All your gadgets with digital displays should be unplugged.  Although it is very little, these do use electricity when plugged in.  By unplugging them you are saving electricity without having to give up much.

We ask that you continue to check our website, www.banderaelectric.com, for the latest news.  Information will be posted as soon as it becomes available to us.

Thank you,

Katie K Haby

Communications Specialist

Bandera Electric Cooperative, Inc.

3172 State Hwy 16 N

Bandera, Texas  78003

830-796-6080

Fax 830-460-3030

Winter/Cold in Texas

I know everyone has thought about this, but please do it also.  Double check all your outside faucets to make sure they are well protected, and let the furthest tap drip water so that the water can can keep the pipes from freezing. Here in Texas they just think we will ever get such a cold spell.

Economic News Week: January 31, 2011

“DOW declines 166 On Egypt Unrest” was a headline in the “DOW declines 166 On Egypt Unrest” was a headline in the Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition. The DOW broke its eight week winning streak on the Egyptian crisis. On a more positive note, the WSJ also reported that the economy is picking up steam as output returns to 2007 levels. Even the Consumer Confidence Index climbed to an eighth month high of 60.6 in January. U.S. economic output finally regained the level reached before the recession as growth sped up on stronger consumer spending and exports the WSJ report stated. GDP (Gross Domestic Product)–a broad measure of all goods and services produced–grew at a 3.2% rate in the fourth quarter, the government said last Friday. That’s up form the 2.6% reported the quarter before. This is more proof that the economy is growing and will soon start to bring down unemployment. Consumer spending and businesses investing and building current inventories are at the heart of the economic growth. Huge corporate earnings have helped as well. “With a little more money in their wallets and a little less fear in their hearts, American consumers helped pull the economy up by its bootstraps in the final months of last year,” an article in the New York Times said. Hopes are of course that the economic momentum keeps going and growing. Local Economic Data San Antonio’s venture investment was up and more than tripled last year, the latest MoneyTree report showed. Texas’-as a whole-investments increased 30% from $687 million in 2009. Texas has been and continues to be a great place for businesses and investments. Four area firms were among the “Best places to work” in Texas in an article by Texas Monthly. They are Nustar Energy LP, Randolph Brooks FCU, The San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, and GlobalScape Inc. Also, just announced last week, the San Antonio job market expects another 27,000 jobs for 2011. San Antonio/Austin seem to be the place where folks are coming to in order to live, work, and raise a family. Now, it is up to our State Congress to come to grips with its budget and not allow us to step backwards when it comes to educating our children. Real Estate and Mortgage Industry News The average rate on the 30 year fixed mortgage rose to 4.80% last week from 4.74% the previous week, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac. Mortgage rates are still at historic levels. I have seen an uptick in purchase Mortgage applications recently. Realtors I have talked with say they have been busier than normal as well. This usually happens when rates start to increase. The fence sitters are testing the waters as they finally realize now may be the time to purchase a home and still get a great rate and a great buy on a home. Its not as hard to get a mortgage loan as some folks may think either. FHA requires only a 3.5% down payment (plus closing costs/escrows) and a FICO credit score of 640 in most cases. USDA Rural Community loans offer a 100% loan program for qualified communities and borrowers as well. I mention this over and over but, I feel it is important to remind folks who are getting ready to take the plunge and buy into the American dream to please find a local Realtor-not someone from out of your buying area. All Real Estate is local. So, if you want the best representation please get with a Realtor who is local and knows the area. Not your sister’s brother-in-law’s cousin who lives 2 hours away! Economic Data due this week: Besides the State-of-Egypt , our Nations unemployment rate will be announced Friday. Monday: PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditure)= This is a measure of goods and services targeted by individuals and consumed by individuals. This is also the Feds favorite gauge on inflation. Thursday: ISM Services Index= This is a survey of purchasing executives from industries such as financial, insurance, real estate, communications, and utilities. Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims. Friday: Unemployment Rate.