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To the real estate editor: Anyone who leaves the heat on during long periods of winter absence may not be wasting a lot of money, but he is grossly and inexcusably wasting irreplaceable energy.

I have turned off the heat, drained the pipes, etc., during the coldest parts of three winters for three- or four-month periods with no detectable damage to house and contents, including oil paintings and old books.

The job should be done by a reliable plumber. I live in an area where subzero periods are common.

Isn't it better to pay the cost to a local plumber rather than fill the Arabs' coffers? A reader Sharon, Conn.

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