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This article was published May 9, 2013 at 2:45 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I am a faithful reader. You recommended unplugging appliances when leaving home for some time. Besides the chance of fire, there is another reason appliances, phone chargers, etc. - anything electrical that is not being used - should be unplugged.

When plugged in and not being used, they are pulling electricity, which we are paying for. It can be expensive over time. I hope you can pass this on to your readers.

  • Judith C. in Ind.

DEAR READER: How right you are, and I’m happy to pass along this info. These energy vampires do use “standby power” simply by being plugged in. You can tell which products are using “standby power” if they have a digital display (such as a clock, a DVD player or a coffee maker), or use external power supplies, a remote control or even a battery charger.

To save energy, unplug the products that you rarely use, and use a power strip to turn off multiple energy users with one button. When possible, buy qualified Energy Star products (products that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deems energy efficient) that consume the least power while plugged in.

DEAR HELOISE: We recycle everything we can, so we use very small trash bags. The bags I use are white. I have learned from previous experience that a white trash bag, plus white snow, plus a trash collector in a hurry equals a trash bag left behind.

I now fasten a brightly colored balloon to my trash bag. No more trash bags left behind!

  • Linda M. in Mich.

DEAR HELOISE: I forgot to put a fabric-softener sheet in the dryer with a load of dish and bath towels. The next time I used one of the bath towels, I was surprised at how much more absorbent it was. I found that this also was true with the dish towels. Now, I never put fabric softener in with the towels.

  • Betty H. in Ohio

DEAR READER: It’s not your imagination that the towels are more absorbent. Fabric softener - liquid or sheets - can make towels (bath and kitchen) absorb less water, especially if overused. Test for yourself: Don’t use fabric softener with one batch of towels, then see which ones absorb better.

P.S.: You are proof that the best hints are discovered by accident.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or e-mail

Weekend, Pages 36 on 05/09/2013

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS


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