Ask Rachael: Please save my marriage!

Q: Save my marriage, Rachael! My husband and I are newly married and we just got our first washer and dryer. While were drying clothes, he insists on venting the dryer into the house for the extra heat. Weve got an electric dryer. Isnt this going to run up our electric bills? A: I give no guarantees on saving marriages, but I can help prevent some potentially costly problems. Sorry, hubby: Venting the dryer inside the house isnt a good idea. Indoor venting brings moisture into the house. Some of that moisture is pulled back into the dryer through the air-intake, which means that it will take slightly longer to dry clothes. But the increased electric costs from this phenomenon are minimal and, frankly, the least of the problems associated with indoor venting. More importantly, moisture from indoor venting can create undesirable conditions in your house, such as window condensation as well as mildew and mold, which can result in stained paint, wood rot, and unhealthy indoor air. Dryer lint and chemicals from dryer sheets, clothing dyes and detergents also decrease indoor-air quality. Note to readers with gas dryers: If you vent indoors, you will bring dangerous carbon monoxide and other combustion by-products into the house. So, get that dryer vented outdoors and breathe easy. Q: I made a bet with my brother that my oil-filled, portable electric heater uses less electricity than his portable electric heater without oil. Each of them has a fan. The bet is that the loser pays the winners highest electric bill next winter. Whos right? A: Both\Neither of you. Each heater uses the same amount of electricity to warm up a living space. It looks like youll both be paying your own electric bills. But I cant help but wonder how high those bills are going to be. You see, whenever somebody asks about portable heaters, a red flag goes up for me. Because, if you feel the need to use a space heater, you may have some fixable problems in your home that are making it unnecessarily chilly. Here are some tips: Caulk around window and door frames. Replace cracked window glazing and be sure that windows close and latch properly. Find air leaks and seal them with expanding foam or caulk. Likely places for leaks are around plumbing, wiring, chimneys, and gaps around recessed lights and fans. Is the attic air-sealed and well-insulated? You can hire a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor to do a whole-house assessment and to make the improvements that can enable you to use less central-heating fuel and keep you comfortable without the expense of running portable electric heaters. To find a contractor near you, visit www.efficiencyvermont.com/homeperformance. Rachael is a business development specialist at Efficiency Vermont. To find more energy saving tips or to submit a new question about energy use in your home or business, visit www.efficiencyvermont.com/askrachael or call, toll-free: 888-921-5990 to speak with a customer service representative.

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