Dear Readers: The heat is on. Higher temperatures are here for the summer, and they can take a dangerous toll on people, pets and pocketbooks. Let's take a look at some hints to save money on your summer cooling bills:
• Limit the use of large appliances like clothes dryers and ovens. Perhaps line-dry clothes and fire up the barbeque grill.
• Set your ceiling fans to run counterclockwise in the summertime (there's a switch on the unit's housing). Table fans can help you feel cooler.
• Direct sun streaming in? Close blinds and curtains in the daylight hours.
• Set your thermostat higher — experts suggest 78 degrees Fahrenheit — and a higher setting when you are away for the day. Make sure your air conditioner is tuned up and in good shape.
• Unplug electronics and appliances when not in use. If the unit is plugged in, it is consuming energy even if it's turned off.
Conserving electricity will help keep your utility bills lower, and help keep energy available for everyone. — Heloise
Build busy board
Dear Readers: Keeping a toddler engaged and busy can be a challenge, and planting them in front of the TV, tablet, computer or cellphone is OK for maybe an hour, but how do we fill those extra hours? Try constructing a busy board!
Sold commercially, busy boards also can be made at home. A plywood board, sanded and painted, can serve as the base, and you can securely attach skeleton keys, knobs, locks, a light switch, sandpaper, a bell, hook and loop fabric, a short piece of coiled phone cord, an old calculator ... you get the idea — things with texture and unique sounds.
Of course, safety is a prime concern. Make sure NOTHING can detach, because, dollars to donuts, it will go into the little one's mouth. Have fun creating your busy board for your toddler! — Heloise
THE BIGGER BED
Dear Readers: Did you know? There are beds fit for a king, and beds that are even bigger than a king! Let's look at the full measure.
A king-size mattress is 76 inches by 80 inches.
The Wyoming king is 7 feet by 7 feet, and the Alaskan king mattress is a whopping 9 feet by 9 feet. These larger-size mattresses are good for folks who are taller; anybody over 6 feet 5 inches will appreciate the extra room.
These mattresses can be hard to come by; you may have to have yours special ordered. And the sheets and bedding? Same story.
Along with all of that, you will pay more for these large-size beds. Do an online search, or call a trusted retailer. -- Heloise
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT
Dear Heloise: My family likes stuffed bell peppers, but my kids can't eat an entire pepper with all the filling. For them, I cut the pepper in half lengthwise, lay it down and then put the filling in. It's a smaller but still delicious portion. -- Robin G. in California
Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.