Questions about Changing Furnace Filters, the Do Not Call List, Disposing of American Flags Recycling Perfume Bottles, Fresh Apples, Saving Money on Utility Bills.

Ask Liz: 12/05/08

Furnace Filters
Q: The viewer wants to know if it's better to change a furnace filter monthly or every three months?

A: We went to the Alliance to Save Energy to get this answer.  It says replace a furnace filter whenever it appears dirty.  This means check your filters monthly.
If the filter is reuseable, clean it and replace it.   The bottom line is no filter is going to stay clean for 3 months in heating season, so you have to check it monthly.

Do Not Call List
Q: A viewer wants to know if cable, cell phone, and land line companies, who call to upgrade her service, can be put on the "Do Not Call" list unless they are calling regarding something directly related to her existing service?

A: We took your question to the Federal Trade Commission.  The Commission said that when you enter into a business relationship with a company, the company is allowed to call you and cannot be put on the "Do Not Call" list.  However, you can ask your company to stop calling by writing a letter asking only to be contacted in regards to your service plan.

Disposing of American Flag
Q: A viewer wants to know if it is possible to trade in her weather battered U.S. military flag for a new one and if not, what is the proper way to dispose of it?

A: We contacted the American Legion and was told that you cannot trade in your old flag for a new one.

If you wish to clean your current flag you can take it to any cleaners.  However, if you want to dispose of your old flag, you can take it to any American Legion Post or Boy Scout Post which will dispose of it properly.

Perfume Bottles
Q:  A viewer wants to know if her perfume bottles can be recycled?

A: We took your question to the DC Department of Public Works, Office of Recycling.  The answer is yes, but it depends what material the bottle is made out of.  Both glass and plastic bottles are acceptable, even if the bottle does not have the recycle emblem.   The emblem is more for the maufacturer's information.    For a list on all products that can be recycled you can go to:

Apple Slices
Q: A viewer wonders what is added to the apple slices you get at fast food restaurants and is it safe for children to eat?

A: We took your question to two restaurants that sell apple slices, Subway and McDonald's.  A representative for Subway told us that it adds ascorbic acid, which is a blend of calcium and vitamin C, to keep its apples looking white and fresh.  McDonald's rep also said that it adds ascorbic acid or a combination of vitamin C and calcium chloride.  Both Subway and McDonald's say that these additions to the apple slices are safe for everyone to eat

Lowering Utility Bills
Q: A viewer wanted to know if turning down your thermostat lowers your heating bill if you have a heat pump?

A: To answer this question, we asked the Alliance to Save Energy.  Turning down your thermostat for more than 8 hours will lower your energy bill. 

However, the problem with heat pumps are that they can heat your house in different ways depending on circumstances and the outside temperature. 

Depending on the desired temperature, the heat pump will either start earlier with lower capacity and slower warm-up, or later with the resistance elements to have a faster warm-up.  Both ways are designed to warm the house in the least cost effective way.

Overall, thermostat setback may work with heat pumps if the heat pumps are good units with good thermostats and are properly programmed and installed with good ductwork.

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