Dear Readers: Everyone wants to save money, especially on MONTHLY UTILITIES during a cold winter. Here are five hints to help you save money on your utility bill:

* If your kitchen or bathroom sink doesn’t have separate faucets for hot and cold, use cold when you can. Cold water works for most uses. Hot water uses electricity or gas to heat, so use only when absolutely necessary. Did you know that energy is used even if the hot never reaches the faucet?

* Check the pilot light on gas appliances. If it is blue, then it is working properly. If the flame is any other color, contact a professional immediately. An improperly working gas appliance can be dangerous, an energy waster and even deadly!

* Put a lid on a pot when you need to boil water or other dish. The liquid boils faster this way, which saves time and energy.

* Electric stove burners stay hot awhile even after they have been turned off. So turn off the stove a minute or so early to save energy.

* Using a toaster oven instead of an oven can save energy, too. So, if you have only one or two potatoes or a small meatloaf, use the toaster oven, and you will save a lot of energy, which means saving money.

-- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I love to feed the birds, and after years of pulling the “sunflower” shoots that sprouted under my feeder, I got a brainstorm idea.

I purchased a hard-sided kiddie pool, drilled some holes in the bottom so that rain would drain out, and “nailed” it to the ground. I now have the seeds that fall from the feeder contained in the “pool.” Voila -- no more sprouting “sunflowers.” This is a very inexpensive way to catch the seeds, and it also allows the ground-feeding birds and squirrels access to food. -- Janice Ferry, Youngstown, Ohio


Dear Heloise: It’s not always possible to have fresh lemons on hand when I need them. I juice a few lemons and put 1 tablespoon into each compartment of an ice-cube tray, then place the tray in the freezer. When solid, I place the cubes into a zipper-top bag or other airtight container and store in the freezer. I now have fresh lemon juice anytime I need it, premeasured in 1-tablespoon amounts. Works great! -- Gisela in Texas

This is NOT a “lemon of a hint,” but a smart way to always have lemon on hand. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: For my votive candleholders, I line them with an aluminum cupcake liner. So when the candle has burned down, I simply remove the liner and either dispose of it or, if I can, peel off the wax and reuse the liner. This way, my candleholders stay clean. Thanks! -- Jennifer in Bay City, Mich.

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

, King Features Syndicate