Dear Readers: The heat is on. Hot temperatures are here for the summer, and they can take a dangerous toll on people, pets and pocketbooks. Let’s take a look at some hints to save money on your summer cooling bills:

● Limit the use of large appliances such as clothes dryers and ovens. Perhaps line-dry clothes and fire up the barbecue grill.

● Set your ceiling fans to run counterclockwise in the summertime (there’s a switch on the unit’s housing). Table fans can help you feel cooler.

● Direct sun streaming in? Close blinds and curtains.

● Set your thermostat higher — experts suggest 78 degrees — and higher when you are away for the day. Make sure your air conditioner is tuned up and in good shape.

● Unplug electronics and appliances when not in use. If the unit is plugged in, it is consuming energy even if it’s turned off.

Conserving electricity will help keep your bills lower, and help keep energy available for everyone.

Dear Readers: Keeping a toddler engaged and busy can be a challenge, and planting them in front of the TV, tablet, computer or cellphone is okay for maybe an hour, but how do we fill those extra hours? It’s a busy board!

Sold commercially, busy boards also can be made at home. A plywood board, sanded and painted, can serve as the base, and you can securely attach skeleton keys, knobs, locks, a light switch, sandpaper, a bell, hook and loop fabric, a short piece of coiled phone cord, an old calculator ... you get the idea — things with texture and unique sounds.

Of course, safety is job one. Make sure NOTHING can detach, because, dollars to doughnuts, it will go into the mouth. Have fun creating your busy board for your toddler!

Dear Readers: Did you know? There are beds fit for a king, and beds that are even bigger than a king! Let’s look at the full measure.

A king-size mattress is 76 inches by 80 inches.

The Wyoming king is 7 feet by 7 feet, and the Alaskan king mattress is a whopping 9 feet by 9 feet. These larger-size mattresses are good for folks who are taller; anybody over 6 feet 5 inches will appreciate the extra room.

These mattresses can be hard to come by; you may have to have yours special ordered. And the sheets and bedding? Same story.

Along with all of that, you will pay more for these large-size beds. Do an online search, or call a trusted retailer.

Dear Heloise: My family likes stuffed bell peppers, but my kids can't eat an entire pepper with all the filling. For them, I cut the pepper in half lengthwise, lay it down and then put the filling in. It's a smaller but still delicious portion.

— Robin G. in California

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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