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Helpful Hints

by Heloise | March 25, 2021 at 1:47 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I am writing in response to your column that appeared on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, which opened with your advice to readers regarding tankless water heaters. You told only one side, which is a list of the potential positive benefits of this technology. Sadly, that isn't even half the story.

I was making plans with my HVAC specialist to have a new furnace and air conditioner installed in my home in Maryland. I asked him and my plumber about going to a tankless unit. Their response was a flat, "Don't do it."

While a tankless heater appears to provide energy cost savings, they said those savings will never be enough to cover the higher cost of the tankless unit as well as its additional installation cost, and will not add appreciably to the value of my home.

-- Cynthia A., Suitland, Md.

DEAR READER: Thanks for the great email! A lot to think about.

DEAR HELOISE: I am writing in reply to Kathryn L. from Michigan who wrote that she has her family use a towel for a week and believes that since they are clean after getting a bath the towel is clean and can be used for an extended period (Feb. 18).

In reality she is correct, but also wrong. There is no soil, but those towels are contaminated with dead skin cells that the towel has exfoliated. Those skin cells are a growth medium for airborne bacteria, and after about 48 hours, colonies of bacteria will be living and growing on them.

Some of the bacteria are harmless, but not all, depending on what is in the air or has been brought into the home. I am not saying she should not do it if she chooses, but I think people should be aware of all the facts when making any choice.

-- Carol S., RN in Ohio

DEAR HELOISE: I have always enjoyed your column. Keep up the good work. Here is my hint: When my daughters were young enough to be excited about their upcoming birthdays, but not old enough to fully understand days and weeks, I took two small bowls and counted out the days till their birthday.

I put that many goldfish crackers in each bowl. We kept the bowls on the kitchen table, and each morning with breakfast they would eat one goldfish and they could "see" how many days left until their birthday. It worked wonderfully.

-- Terrilynn K., via email

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


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