Ask Betsy! December 2012

Dear Betsy,

With winter upon us, do you have any suggestions as to how I can make my house warmer without spending a fortune?

Shiverin Metimbers

Dear Shiverin,

I struggle with this every winter! Here are the steps I take. The first thing I do is have a plumber tune up my boiler. Next, I close and inspect my storm windows, caulking all gaps. I also have a draft blocker for the bottom of my doors. For supplemental heat I use a couple of oil-filled electric radiators and I also have an electric blanket on my bed.

Stay warm, Betsy

Dear Betsy,

I’m seeking an energy-efficient alternative to standard incandescent bulbs, but don’t really care for those spiral compact fluorescent bulbs. Is anything else available?

Lost in the Dark

Dear Lost,

You’re in luck. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) have advanced in recent years to the point at which they can provide illumination, rather than merely functioning as indicator lights of various sorts. Manufacturers such as Sylvania, GE, and Insignia tout average lifespans in the range of tens of thousands of hours, equivalent to decades of use. Since these solid-state devices convert electrical energy to light many times more efficiently than the conventional tungsten-element bulbs, their operating cost is a fraction of that of the conventional bulb for a given light output (the “lumen” rating). This significantly lower operating cost is offset somewhat by a significantly higher acquisition cost, so a cost-sensitive consumer would need to perform some calculations to arrive at a reliable cost/benefit analysis. In any event, be on the lookout for these newer lighting options the next time you’re walking through a major retailer.

  • Betsy Summers
  • Betsy Summers is a long-time resident of Wilkes-Barre who holds an associate’s degree from Centenary College and advanced degrees from the School of Hard Knocks. She’s also a self-taught carpenter, electrician, gardener, and Jane of all trades. Betsy currently works in veterinary sales, has served on the subcommittee for Luzerne County ethics, and has run for a number of political offices, most recently, PA State Auditor General in 2012.If you’d like a question answered, contact Betsy at or call us at 570-266-8086.

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