Useful tips


DEAR READERS: If your energy bills seem to be higher this winter, you and everyone in your family can take small, simple steps to save money and reduce your heating consumption. Try these tips.

First, turn down the heat. While it might seem obvious, you might forget to do this. Lower the heating temperature when you leave your home indefinitely and when you go to work. Energy experts say to keep the heat’s temperature at around 68 degrees or less.

When the weather is nice outside, open the curtains and blinds to let the sunshine into your home, especially on the west side of the house. This will help warm the room, which means using less heat and saving money.

Make sure your furnace is working properly. If it doesn’t seem to be doing a good job, have a heating professional check it to make sure it’s clean and all parts are lubricated. The fitter it is, the more efficiently it will run, so less money will be spent.

DEAR READERS: Some basements are damp which creates a musty smell. Here’s how to get rid of the smell. Buy activated charcoal, which you can find in pet stores. Put the charcoal in several mesh bags (like bags of potatoes or onions) and hang them in the basement. This will help remove the foul odor.

DEAR READERS: If you have pets, there can be many emergencies and accidents. Sometimes the dogs just don’t get out on time or the cats can’t get to the litter box to do their business. Use these tips to clean up those messy situations right away.

For solids, pick up material as soon as possible. Mix ¼ teaspoon of liquid dish detergent with 1 cup of slightly lukewarm water and apply to the stained area. Rinse several times with lukewarm water to remove all soap residue, then pat dry.

For liquids, absorb as much urine as possible using old towels. Hold onto it to really absorb the urine. Rinse the area with cold water and pat dry. Apply the above mixture, rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water and pat dry. Then dab with a solution of 1/3 cup white vinegar and 2/3 cup water and pat dry.

DEAR READERS: When you are baking cookies and want them to be chewy instead of crispy, follow these steps. Assemble the dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Keep the moisture content high by adding a drop of corn syrup or honey. Bake the cookies for less time than the recipe calls for, remove them from the baking sheet and immediately place them on a cooling rack.

DEAR READERS: If you have any veg or stew you want to keep warm before heading to a party, here’s a good idea. Place hot foods in a half-gallon wide-mouth thermos. It will stay warm and will not spread all over the car.

Send a hint to save time or money to Heloise, PO Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

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