Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - HELOISE Send a money- or time-sav­ing hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San An­to­nio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

DEAR HELOISE: I’m big on sav­ing money, and low­er­ing my air-con­di­tioner bill is a great way to do it. Here are some hints I use, even in the heat of sum­mer:

Com­fort is key, but I’ve got­ten ac­cus­tomed to a room tem­per­a­ture of 78 to 80 de­grees.

I keep my out­door unit free of grass and bushes.

Ceil­ing fans of­ten are all that I need to cool off, es­pe­cially at night. Clos­ing blinds and win­dow treat­ments, I’ve dis­cov­ered, keeps the house cooler.

I re­place and clean the AC fil­ters reg­u­larly.

I don’t have a room AC unit, but it’s best to keep these out of direct sun.

I close the doors and vents to rooms I don’t use, so they don’t get cooled.

I turn up the AC when I’m away from home.

My unit is fairly new, but if you have an older model, it’s prob­a­bly not as en­ergy-ef­fi­cient as it could be. I’d con­sider an up­grade.

— Mike C. in Ari­zona DEAR READER: Great hints. Use some of the dol­lars saved to have an ice-cream treat or cool glass of iced tea.

DEAR HELOISE: I bought an ice bucket with a good-fit­ting lid from the thrift store and lined it with a plas­tic pro­duce bag.

I put the waste from my cat’s lit­ter pan in it and change the bag once a week on trash day. The in­su­lated bucket com­pletely con­tains all the odor.

— Vicki L., Ohio

DEAR HELOISE: My com­plaint is that many stores have their cart re­turn far away from the ac­ces­si­ble spots. I’m not dis­abled, but my wife is.

— Gary H. in Maine

DEAR HELOISE: An old golf bag can be used in the garage to store mops and brooms, etc. It holds a lot and doesn’t take up a lot of space.

— Elaine H., Florida

DEAR READ­ERS: But­ton, but­ton, who’s got the but­ton? There are a num­ber of uses for re­cy­cled but­tons:

They can be used in jew­elry-mak­ing to cre­ate in­ter­est­ing, new de­signs.

At­tach to the ends of draw­strings to keep from pulling through cas­ings.

Great for dec­o­rat­ing pic­ture frames, and for gift dec­o­ra­tions.

In­stead of peb­bles in a pot, try a cou­ple of hand­fuls of old but­tons.

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