The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Monte Rio Musings - Chuck Ramsey - November 2016


Monte Rio Musings - Chuck Ramsey - November 2016 

The Holiday season begins! Halloween is here and the elections will soon be over! What will we do now for entertainment? Hopefully spending time with family and friends and thinking positive thoughts about what the next year will bring. 

It’s also the time of year for board director elections. Monte Rio Rec & Park has one open director vacancy. If you are interested in serving please contact Sherry Pimsler at 865-2487 or

The Alliances and Chamber are also looking for people interested in serving your community. We are actively involved in the issues that directly impact you and our community. We work with our county government to get needed change. Issues such as tourism, low flow, wastewater solutions, etc. This is a great opportunity to get your voice heard and to see results. Contact me if you are interested in serving on either group.

Considering the coming cold winter season, you have probably heard about programs available to improve your home, but weren’t interested in bureaucratic red tape or outlaying a lot of cash at the moment. I have been working for a PACE provider and have also had personal experience getting PACE financing for my husband Patrick’s residence in Sacramento. What exactly is PACE?

PACE (Property Accessed Clean Energy) provides 100%, no money down financing enabling property owners to make energy efficiency improvements to residential, multifamily and commercial properties. Payments are made through property tax bills.

Hundreds of eligible improvements (and associated installation costs) qualify. Some of the most commonly financed projects are qualifying solar systems, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems (such as high efficiency electric heat pump systems), windows, doors, roofing, insulation, water heaters and water-saving upgrades.

Approval criteria is based on property equity. It is not based on employment status, credit score, or debt to income ratios (cash flow). You do however need to be currently not in bankruptcy, and need to be current on your mortgage and property taxes. 

If you sell your home, the payments may transfer to the new owner – so you only pay for improvements while you use them.

There are several PACE providers in the area and the approval process, including getting a certified contractor, is fast and easy. Though not all projects make sense here on the River (Solar on Starrett Hill, a cool-roof like Patrick obtained in Sacramento), many would be great such as new roofs (new roofs are now more energy efficient so qualify), insulation, windows, and electric heat pumps. A heat pump in very simple terms is an air-conditioner that changes direction depending on the season. The warm air that blows outside of your air conditioner in the summer, blows inside and warms your house in the winter. These units also function as a dehumidifier (another River bonus!). As they do not use regular electric resistance heating elements (except during very cold periods) they cost much less to operate than electric heat. “Variable Speed Mini-Split ” heat pumps are affordable and easy to install. They do not require ducting and aren’t central heat systems. You have probably seen them in hotel rooms. Hopefully Sonoma Clean Power and our Air Quality District will consider rebates for these in the future. Currently there are Federal tax credits for heat pumps through the end of the year. 

I encourage you to consider PACE to provide an easy way to increase comfort in your home this winter while reducing your energy bills and helping the environment. Our County Energy Independence Office is the oldest PACE program in the country. You can visit for more information, including private PACE financing providers to compare rates and programs. 

Vacation Wonderland. We just keep getting better.