Questions about Circuit City Extended Warranties, Popcorn, Whole Grain Pasta., Cost of the inauguration, Prius or a Smart Car, Home Heating

Ask Liz: 1/23/09

Whole Grain Pasta
Q: A viewer wants to know if whole grain pasta affects blood sugar the same way regular pasta does?

A: We asked nutritionist Judy Caplan about this. She says whole grains still have the hull. So the body has to work harder to break down the whole grains. This causes a slower rise in insulin meaning your blood sugar does not rise as quickly as it would on regular pasta.

Microwave popcorn.
Q: A viewer wants to know why the box has nutritional information for both popped and unpopped popcorn?

A : We contacted Orville Redenbacher about this. It says the FDA requires it to put nutrition values for unpopped popcorn on the label. The same is true for other foods such as cake mixes, boxed macaroni, and cheese dinners. The FDA says in some instances, nutrition amounts can change after the food is prepared. Plus some fat and butter can remain in the popcorn bag after popping reducing the fat content in the cooked popcorn.

Circuit City Extended Warranty
Q: A viewer wants to know what happens to that warranty now that Circuit City has gone out of business.

A: We contacted Circuit City to get your answer. It says Circuit City Advantage Protection Plans are backed by a third party. This 3rd party program has been in place for more than 15 years. And because of this program, extended warranties are not impacted by Circuit City's closing. And if the item you bought is still covered by the manufacturer's warranty, you'll need to contact the manufacturer for service.

Home Heating
Q: What's better, to close heating vents in unused rooms or leave them open?

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A: We took your question to the Alliance to Save Energy. It says if your home is heated with a radiator or electric heat, the answer is close vents. However, if it's heated with natural forced-air furnaces, the answer is don't close vents. The problem is typical duct work systems leak badly. And closing ducts allows more air to leak before it reaches the intended room. The real answer is next time you replace your furnace...install the highest efficiency one you can and have the contractor seal all the supply and return ducts that can be sealed.

Prius Vs. Smart Car
Q: The viewer ask which is the cheaper car gasoline-wise...the Prius or the Smart Car.

A: We turned to the Union of Concerned Scientists for this answer. It says Smart Cars use premium gas. Prius runs on regular gas. Plus the Prius gets better fuel economy than the Smart Car. So the Prius wins on gasoline costs. Saving money on the total car depends on the cost of the car, resale, and depreciation so it's much more complicated.

Presidential Inauguration
Q: What is the cost of the presidential inauguration and who pays for it?

A: We went to the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration to get your answer. It says the Presidential Inauguration Committee is responsible for all the events. President Bush's inauguration in 2005 cost $40-million dollars.   Much of that money came from private donations from business and other organizations. D.C. also gets $15-million dollars from the Federal Government to cover its expenses.   This year though, the Presidential Inauguration will not accept contributions from corporations and lobbyists and registered foreign agents, so it's still unclear who's paying for what.

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