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  • If you don't have a long period of time to write a detailed letter to a friend, try carrying around a pad of stationery when you're out and about. Instead of being a source of frustration, a 15-minute wait in the doctor's reception area can be the start of a great letter. You can also use that time spent sitting in the van waiting for Junior to get out of school to keep in touch with far-flung family members.

    Saving on Climate Control

    The weather outside may be frightful, but your utility bills don't have to be. Whether it's warming the house in winter or cooling it in summer, you can put to use the helpful tips on temperature control in this section.

    Dressing for the weather

    Your first reaction to uncomfortable temperatures may be to run for the ther- mostat. An easier and more energy-efficient way to deal with the extremes of heat and cold is to dress appropriately. Wear light-colored, lightweight, breathable natural fabrics in summer. Spend your day in a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. In the wintertime, wear woolen clothes or dress in layers, perhaps by adding a fleece vest. By trapping air between the layers, you're actually using your own body heat to keep warm. You'll also be amazed by what a difference a second warm pair of socks can make on a cold day.

    Keeping your cool when the weather's not

    If you can keep excess heat from entering your house in the first place, you've already won half the battle of trying to reduce your cooling bill. The primary source of heat inside a home during the hot summer months is sun- light absorbed through the roof, the walls, and the windows. Indoor appli- ances, especially in the kitchen and laundry room, give off heat, too.

    Insulating yourself against the heat

    If you want to drop your cooling - and heating - bills dramatically, add insulation to your home. First, insulate your attic floor. Then, when time and money allow, add insulation to your basement, exterior walls, floors, and crawl spaces (in that order). Insulation on the attic floor helps reduce the amount of heat absorbed through the roof and then through the ceiling of the house. Adequate ventilation under the eaves allows cooler air to enter and circulate. Install an exhaust fan in one of the attic windows (if you have them) to cut down on heat buildup under the roof. Even if you don't have a perma- nent exhaust fan installed in the upstairs window, you can set up a temporary box fan with the air flow pointed outward, to pull the hot air out of the house.

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