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Portable space heaters

Q. Ive heard conflicting information about portable electric space heaters. Some people say not to use them because theyre inefficient. But Ive seen ads for efficient electric space heaters. Are these new? What are the facts? A -- Technically speaking, an electric heater is 100% efficient at converting electricity into heat. This use of the word "efficient," however, doesn't mean that an electric heater is an energy-saving, inexpensive way to keep you warm. Even as gas and oil prices rise, electricity is the most expensive way to heat. A typical 1,500 watt portable electric heater could increase your energy costs by as much as $50 per month. You can find tips for reducing or eliminating the need for portable electric heaters at efficiencyvermont.com. Go to the residential section and click on Saving Energy.

Q -- What type of insulation would you recommend using on pipes?

A. Youre wise to insulate your pipes. In warm weather, insulation keeps cold-water pipes from sweating. In cold weather, it helps reduce heat loss from hot-water piping and, so, reduces your energy costs.

Insulation comes in a number of forms, but the best, and by far the easiest to use, is a closed-cell foam insulation that generally comes packaged in three-foot lengths. These are available at hardware stores. Choose the right size for your pipe diameter. These slip-on pipe jackets are easy to install and cover the entire pipe surface, even when bent around corners. Tape the ends where the pieces meet, using electrical tape, and youre all set.

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