Saving heating dollars with double-duty use

A neighbor of mine claims that his two children hang around the refrigerator on cold winter nights. Why? They like warming their fingers and toes with the warm air given off by the refrigerator during its normal cooling cycle.

Another friend contends that her clock saves heating dollars. How? By placing the clock in a windowsill, children playing outside can check the time without opening a door every few minutes.

For years mothers have hung wet mittens on warm oven doors; in other words, the mittens dried while the dinner cooked. One energy source was used to do two tasks.

Energy dollars are spent more efficiently when two or more jobs are completed by the normal operation of one appliance. Making your energy dollars do double duty may prove worthwhile, especially if energy consumption has reached the bare-bones minimum in your home.

Here are some suggestions that may prove beneficial in getting more value from your energy dollars:

* Save washing, drying, and dishwashing until the evening hours, if possible. The normal operation of these appliances can add heat and moisture to the house.

* Rather than heat an iron, use the warm top of the clothes dryer to smooth wrinkles out of sheets, pillowcases, and tablecloths.

* Use the retained heat produced by your clothes dryer. By drying heavier articles first, lightweight or permanent-press clothes in the last load may dry without additional heating of the dryer.

* Make the most of retained heat by drying clothes in consecutive loads. Heat built up by several continuous drying cycles will prevent using extra energy to warm the dryer to the proper operating temperature. Stop-and-start drying is expensive.

* Use the heat in your house to dry clothes. By hanging garments to air-dry, energy dollars are saved and moisture from the clothes can raise the humidity level inside the house.

* Use your clothes dryer to dampen clothes for ironing. Completely drying items that must be ironed wastes energy dollars. Remove ironable items from the dryer and press them while still damp.

* To save energy when ironing, remove the ironing board pad and cover the entire surface of the board with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Then replace the pad on the board. Heat from the iron will be reflected upward and a lower temperature setting can be used for pressing.

* Use the steam from your shower to remove wrinkles from permanent-press and knit clothes.

* Showers can help humidify the air. Rather than venting the steam through the bathroom exhaust, let it disperse naturally throughout the house.

* Allow steam from cooking to remain in the house as well. Avoid using the kitchen exhaust fan, which pulls moisture from the air while introducing cold outside air into the house.

* Use the oven to prepare two or three meals at once. The cost of reheating the food can be kept to a minimum by using small appliances, such as toaster ovens or countertop broilers.

* Cook or reheat two foods at once with double boilers. Warm vegetables in water in the bottom pan while heating meat slices, rolls, or sauces in the top boiler.

* When cooking, substitute serving bowls for pan lids. Bowls are warmed automatically for serving.

* After cooking, open the oven door to let any retained heat help warm the kitchen, but make sure that the oven is off before leaving the door open. Using an oven as a heater is an expensive, wasteful practice.

* Turn your dishwasher into a humidifier. After the final rinse cycle, turn off the dishwasher, open the door, and pull out the top and bottom racks. Heat and moisture will escape as the dishes air-dry.

* Use your wood-burning stove or fireplace to boil water, pop corn, or roast nuts. Bake potatoes in the coals of a fireplace.

* To increase the heat output of radiators, cover the walls directly behind the radiators with aluminum foil, an aluminum sheet, or with aluminum-backed wallboard. The aluminum covering reflects heat that would otherwise be absorbed by the wall.

* Aluminum foil can also amplify the light output of a lamp without increasing the wattage of the bulb. Cover the inside surface of one side of a lamp shade with the foil. (Don't cover the entire shade or all reflected light will be directed to the floor.) When more light is needed for reading, turn the shade so that the light reflected by the foil is focused on your work.

* Use any closed-off spare rooms to store perishable food items, such as potatoes, apples, oranges, and pears. This cool storage may preserve fruit and vegetables for up to six months.

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