The Frugal Life
August 16, 2001

A New Air Conditioner? –by Gary Foreman

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
Our house and the central air conditioner is at least 12-14 years old. Our serviceman has told us that the compressor unit is too small for our house and the original builder should have put in a larger unit. We are considering having the AC unit changed to a new, more energy efficient model that would be the correct size for our house. My question is – where can I get information to compare costs of running the two units, so we can decide if a new unit would be worthwhile, financially? Donna

For many in the U.S. this has been a scorching summer. Fortunately, about half of all homes have central air conditioning.  The bad news is that it does cost money to run them. Central air conditioning and heat pumps rank third in total residential energy usage. Only heat and water heating consume more.

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Got Mildew? Get Milk! –by Arzeena Hamir

Less than 3 years ago, researchers in South America discovered a new alternative to controlling powdery mildew. Wagner Bettiol, a scientist from Brazil, found that weekly sprays of milk controlled powdery mildew in zucchini just as effectively as synthetic fungicides such as fenarimol or benomyl. Not only was milk found to be effective at controlling the disease, it also acted as a foliar fertilizer, boosting the plant’s immune system.

Powdery mildew in the cucurbit family is caused by the organism Sphaerotheca fuliginea. It is a serious disease that occurs worldwide. For decades, organic gardeners had to rely on making a spray from baking soda to control the disease. Now, instead of measuring out the baking soda and combining it with a surfactant (a “sticking” substance) of either oil or soap, gardeners need only head for their refrigerators.

In his experiments with zucchini plants, Bettiol found that a weekly spray of milk at a concentration of at least 10% (1 part milk to 9 parts water) significantly reduced the severity of powdery mildew infection on the plants by 90%. While some gardeners may be tempted to increase the concentration of milk for more control, Bettiol found that once concentrations rose above 30%, an innoccuous fungus began to grow on the plants.

More on mildew

Ways to Save on Moving Expenses –by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

1. Try to get your present employer to pay all or part of the cost of your move if you are moving to a new location with the same company or organization. However, you may have to pay income taxes on the amount your employer pays for your move.

2. If you are changing employers, try to get your new employer to pay all or a reasonable share of your moving expenses.

3. When you move, borrow a truck (if you don’t own one) from a friend or your employer to transport your possessions. Also, get some of your friends to help load your things (and unload them too). The above should be your cheapest way to move. Be sure to call your homeowners insurance agent concerning coverage of your possessions during the move.

4. If you can’t borrow a truck for your move, the next cheapest way should be to rent a truck, such as a U-Haul or Ryder truck. Do your own packing, loading, unloading, and driving. If you don’t have one or two people to help with the loading and unloading, you usually can hire a moving company to load your vehicle at your present residence and unload it at your new residence. If you are moving a considerable distance away, you shouldn’t have any problem hiring a different moving company at your destination to unload the truck.

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Reader’s Need

Q. My 15-year-old cat doesn’t want to use the litter box anymore.  We’ve taken her to the vet and she’s checked out okay; he says it “just happens when they get older sometimes.”  We do have another, younger cat, who seems to intimidate her, and I wonder if that may be part of the problem. Does anyone have any ideas about how to get her to stop doing all her business on the floor?

Last Week’s Readers Need

I have been a faithful reader for some time now, and almost always find something in your newsletters that helps me save money.  As a young single person, on a severely limited budget, I was intrigued by the letter from the “single dad” who altered his daughter’s clothes for her.  I own a sewing machine, but it pretty much collects dust, as I haven’t got much savvy where they are concerned.  I don’t know why when I try to sew a straight line, the bottom comes out with tons of thread, how best to make alterations for myself, etc….  I bought the machine new, only a few months ago, so it is not the fault of the machine.  I must be doing things wrong.  Do you or any of your readers know of a way in which I can teach myself to sew?  Are there any great books I can check out of the library?   Any great websites?? The reason for this is that I tend to buy almost all my clothing at thrift stores, (which are a great deal, BTW, I have some wonderful designer clothing in my closet that typically costs me less than $5 apiece.) However, it’s not like going out any finding the perfect item in just your size, so learning to make alterations would help me greatly.

Any help you and your readers could give would be wonderful.  (P.S. – I don’t have the money to sign up for a sewing class, so that’s out of the question.)

Read the answers.

Readers Tips

o If you use the Swiffer type of floor cleaners, their cloths can be reversed to be reused, then washed in the washer, & air dried for reuse.  When they have to be thrown out, I replaced mine with the cheapest fabric softener sheet and work just as well. Suz

We got this tip from a friend who has has a 15ft above ground pool for 10yrs. Instead of the expensive chemicals for pools you can use 2 gallons of bleach once a week (especially if a lot of activity in the pool or heavy rains) and 1/3 -1/2 box of baking soda takes care of the PH!    Buy pool filters at the end of the season and stock up for next year. Diana

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