June 23, 2017

Archives for September 2008

Freezer Sales Increasing

Consumers across the country are trying to find ways to save money. The cost of food keeps going up and no one can predict when it will stop. While the appliance market has cooled down a bit generally, the sales of freezers has gone up.

According toTheTimesTribune.com, across the country, shoppers bought more than 1.1 million freezers during the first six months of the year — up more than 7 percent from the same period last year, according to research firm NPD Group. That rings up to nearly $400 million in freezer sales — a staggering figure compared to the rest of the home appliance sector, where industry data shows shipments are down nearly 8 percent.

And, experts said, it’s a trend that’s expected to continue at least through much of next year as penny-pinching shoppers buy in bulk to take advantage of deals or bundle grocery shopping trips to conserve gas. About half of all U.S. households already have a chest or upright freezer, separate from the refrigerator-freezer combo that’s a kitchen stalwart, according to industry statistics.

To accommodate the rest — or cater to shoppers who want to upgrade to newer or more spacious models — some appliance makers are redesigning their products and marketing them as a way to put the freeze on rising food prices.

This summer, Frigidaire’s revamped upright freezers began hitting stores, as the brand owned by Swedish manufacturer Electrolux AB added specially designed shelves, baskets and other features to accommodate the appliances’ growing popularity.

Modern Fridge or Range with an Antique Look

If you want your new, ultra modern refrigerator to match your classic, antique style kitchen decor, Restart Srl appliances located in Antella near Florence, right in the heart of Tuscany has just what you need.

Restart Srl makes personalized refrigerators with old styled brass finishing for different styles of kitchens in accordance to the particular architectural style of each house. Built around the best modern brands, including Liebherr, Amana and General Electric, these refrigerators, meet the highest energy saving parameters.

They also make range cookers, built-in ovens and hobs which effortlessly combine antique and classic looks with modern technology ensuring performance, functionality and safety, while giving your kitchen a unique look. Restart built-in ovens and hobs are made by ILVE. The ovens are air-cooled, multifunction and programmable and are also equipped with a heat-insulating triple cold glass to ensure excellent performance and to reduce power consumption. The oven window is typically covered with an antiqued brass or copper door allowing food cooking eye-control, and giving them the touch of Restart’s classic old-style. Cooking hobs, enriched with heavy cast iron gratings, are equipped with handle-knobs electric ignition and safety flame devices. All copper and brass are treated with an exclusive natural oxidation coating process, concurring to obtain the antique look of Restart appliances.

Clotheslines Bring Back Pleasant Memories

I’m not old enough to remember the time when a clothesline was the most common way to dry the week’s washing, and I don’t plan to give up the convenience of my washer and dryer, but I do use a rack outside on my deck to dry delicate clothes.  Preserving energy (and fragile fabrics) is one reason to use a clothesline, but as Jacques Kelly at the BaltimoreSun.com will tell you, there are others.

When will the green movement embrace the outdoor clothesline that stretched along so many of Baltimore’s backyards and alleys? Last week, I arrived home with bags of laundry from 14 days at the beach. After about an hour in my gas dryer, when a beach towel refused to dry, I declared the appliance all but dead.

No panic. I could, after all, handle the situation the way my mother did. Hang it outside to dry. Hang everything outside. Look, for the past few weeks we enjoyed sunny days with low humidity. Let the sun – not my natural gas supplier – do the work.

I have never owned a house with proper outdoor clotheslines. But I needed something to wear and figured I could improvise something with the help of poles that support my side porch awning. Before long, I had a dozens shirts and several towels out. In the hot afternoon sun, they dried as fast as the would have in my gas-fired dryer. I didn’t have to use fabric softener, and the clothes came inside with a clean, fresh smell.

My mother always claimed that doing laundry calmed her nerves. I can see her point. She never gave up on the sun and often swore that in the household art of spot and stain removal, there were few blots the sun’s rays could not lift.

She actually transported clothes from Baltimore to her summertime beach apartment, where she believed the sun would be more intense.

The laundry facilities in the old house – still there, still working – consisted of the well-used Kenmore washer and a pair of soapstone laundry tubs. There was also a ribbed washboard, scrubbing brush and an ample supply of homemade bars of super-tough laundry soap, which by family tradition was the secret agent for stain removal. That laundry soap was full of rendered fat and lye – all made atop the kitchen stove one flight up.

Grass stains, dirt and other annoyances were given a rigorous scrubbing with the lye soap and bristle brushes on the washboard. Oh, yes, we also used commercial soap powder, but we employed it sparingly.

We had two sets of laundry lines – one inside and another out. The inside set, strung along the cellar’s length, was used on rainy days or times when the temperature dropped below freezing.

The outside lines had to be strung on the days when clothes were put out to dry. They stretched across the length of our little garden and had to be supported with wooden props so the weight of the wet linen (bed sheets were the worst) would not pull everything down.

Baltimore once earned a nice reputation as having block after block of scrubbed marble steps. I often thought this was only half the story. You needed to check the backs of these houses on wash day.

In the days before the mechanical dryer was the household norm, brilliant, white sheets and pillowcases caught the breezes of Canton and Highlandtown. They resembled billowing sails.

I often wondered as I walked along these alleys if the launderers owned dryers or just believed in the sun’s power and refused to change their ways.

More Consumers Choosing Energy Efficiency

The cost of running a household has always been the biggest part of most family budgets. As utility costs have risen, that cost keeps going up too. One way to decrease monthly utility bills is to use less water and energy on daily household tasks. More and more consumers are replacing their old, top-loading washers wih high efficiency (HE) front-loading models.  LGworld.com  reports:

While consumers have warmed to energy efficiency only gradually, the trend is increasingly evident with household appliances. Overall U.S. sales by appliance manufacturers fell to $23.4 billion last year and continue to slump as fewer homes are built in a tight economy, but energy-efficient models account for a growing share.

In a reflection of increased consumer demand as well as manufacturers’ innovations, 55 percent of the major appliances shipped to stores and distributors in the first half of 2008 carried the government’s Energy Star rating for high energy efficiency — up from just under 50 percent a year earlier, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

Manufacturers don’t break out sales of Energy Star appliances separately, but they total in the billions. Sales of washing machines alone accounted for $3.6 billion in 2007, and much of that was in front-loading washers.

Demand for front-loaders at Abt Electronics, a major retailer in Glenview, Ill., is up about 60 percent this year, according to general manager Marc Cook.

“People come in and their first question is, ‘Should I switch to a front-loader?”’ Cook said. “They like the technology, and when you sweeten it by saying they’ll be using less water and energy, then it closes the deal in their mind.”

Front-loaders and advanced top-loaders typically use only one-third the water of a conventional top-loader, using sophisticated wash systems to flip or spin clothes through a reduced amount of water while also dramatically decreasing the amount of hot water used.

In addition, enhanced motors spin clothes two to three times faster during the spin cycle to extract more water, reducing moisture in clothes and resulting in less time and energy in the dryer.

Look for the label

What energy-conscious buyers need to know most is to look for the yellow Energy Star label, which means a product is among approximately the top 25 percent of all product models in energy efficiency.

Energy Star is a 16-year-old joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. It provides labels for qualifying products in more than 50 categories — from televisions to light bulbs to furnaces to clothes washers.

The label guarantees three things, according to program spokeswoman Maria Vargas: That the product is more energy-efficient than a conventional product — delivering the same or better performance using less energy; that it’s a cost-effective purchase that will pay for itself in five years or less; and that there’s no sacrifice in performance.

Shoppers should also check products’ EnergyGuide labels required by the Federal Trade Commission. The labels provide an estimate of the product’s energy consumption and show comparisons with similar models.

An Energy Star-qualified clothes washer uses 15 to 25 gallons of water per load compared with 30 to 35 gallons by a standard machine, saving more than 7,000 gallons of water a year. Combined with lower electricity costs, the government says the machine can save the user $550 in operating costs over its lifetime compared to a regular clothes washer.

Costs to consider

That can be welcome relief from increasingly burdensome household energy costs.

The average U.S. household will spend about $2,350 this year on energy costs, up from $2,100 in 2007, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, an energy information clearinghouse in Washington, D.C. Roughly a quarter of that is from appliances.

Of course, the added efficiency comes at a cost. Front-loaders can run $400 to $500 more than regular washers, with good-quality machines running $1,000 or more.

That’s not only due to the increased energy and water efficiency but also other innovations such as remote monitoring, use of steam for wrinkle reduction, reduced noise and vibration and bigger washing capacity.

“People want larger capacity, but they also want energy efficiency,” said Paul Dougherty, manager of a Grand Appliance chain store in Zion, Ill. “Two years ago they weren’t asking about that too often.”

Liebherr Engineers Re-Invent the 36” Luxury Refrigerator

If you haven’t heard of Liebherr appliances, you might soon. Liebherr, a premium appliance designer from Germany, has recently introduced a 36′ refrigerator specifically designed for the North American market.
The 2062 Series is available in freestanding (CS 2062), stainless integrated (HCS 2062) and
fully integrated (HC 2062) models. This new size means that Liebherr now has every
possible refrigeration size available in North America including 24”, 30”, 36”, 48”, 60” and 72”
configurations.
Key features include:
• Stylish French doors allowing for better clearance than side-swing doors
• Dual refrigeration system, with separate super efficient variable speed
compressors for the refrigerator and the freezer
Liebherr – New 36” Refrigerator
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www.liebherr-appliances.com
• Double freezer drawers on telescopic rails and a new air flow system
• Revolutionary new LED light columns and enhanced vegetable drawer and
freezer drawer LED illumination
• Icemaker features most technically advanced water filter available for
household appliances
• An increased capacity icemaker that can produce 3.5 lbs of ice in 24 hours
and store up to 7 lbs of ice
• An enhanced Power Cooling system for improved chilling performance
• New, elegant Glass Line 6 mm thick shelving that withstands up to 180 lbs
• Complies with the new ENERGY STAR® guidelines for maximum efficiency
coming into effect as of April 2008.
“The 36 inch is not a common size in Europe, yet it is the most popular size in the luxury
category here in North America,” stated Marc Perez, Vice President, Liebherr North America.
“Weʼve been working diligently to offer this size in our North American product line, and Iʼm
confident that this product will exceed all expectations,” adds Perez.

Washing Machine Care From Whirlpool

Last year at this time, Whirlpool introduced Affresh, the tablet that cleans the inside of high efficiency washers, helping to reduce the musty smell that some washers get.  Now, Whirlpool introduces the Affresh washer cleaning kit. The kit includes Power Puck tablets and Grit Grabber cloths to more effectively remove and prevent odor-causing residue than using bleach alone. The Power Puck tablets use oxygenated bubbling action to penetrate and remove residue that can accumulate where it is hard to reach — behind the washer drum. The specially formulated Grit Grabber cloths give consumers added power to clean where they can reach by breaking up residue around the rubber door seal and detergent dispenser and locking it into the cloth.

“While not every washer will experience odor, it’s possible in all washers. Due to their efficient design, modern HE machines seal more tightly and use less water than older, less efficient washers which increases the potential for residue to build-up,” said Mary Zeitler, home economist for the Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science.

Odor may occur when residue from detergents, lint, sloughed off skin cells and soil accumulates in areas of the washer where water cannot rinse. The new Affresh kit offers a comprehensive approach to odor-causing residue by enabling consumers to clean both around the washer door and hard-to-reach areas behind the washer drum. Use of the new Affresh kit should not replace routine washer maintenance recommended in the washer’s Use and Care Guide. Routine measures such as leaving the door open after each load and using only high-efficiency detergents in the proper amount can also help reduce the occurrence of odor.

The Affresh washer cleaning kit includes three septic system-safe Power Puck tablets and six pre-moistened hypoallergenic Grit Grabber cloths and is packaged in a reusable container to make routine maintenance a snap. It is available at retailers nationwide with an MSRP of $10.99. For more information, please visit www.affresh.com

Sub-Zero’s New Refrigerators Help Reduce Food Waste

A recent study from the University of Arizona, along with internal research, suggests that the average U.S. household throws out well in excess of $500 worth of fruits, vegetables, leftovers and other food items every year due to spoilage. Much of this waste can be reduced by proper refrigeration, the reduction of ethylene gas in the refrigerator, and food storage education.

“With prices on the rise for so many food items at the supermarket, and as people make fewer visits to the store because of increased gas prices, it’s more important than ever before to keep food from spoiling in the refrigerator,” said Christopher Parr, consumer marketing manager for Sub-Zero, Inc. “Our new built-in refrigeration series includes several features to help combat this problem.”

Like all Sub-Zero refrigerators, the new built-in includes a freshness preservation system, which is a dual-compressor operating system that separately controls the temperature and humidity of the refrigerator and freezer compartments, and holds preset temperatures within a plus-or-minus one-degree. This precise, independent control of the refrigerator and freezer compartments ensures the highest air quality and therefore, fresh food and energy efficiency. Other refrigerators utilize just one compressor to push air from the freezer into the refrigerator, and this recycled air from the freezer compartment contributes to the drying and decay of fresh foods.

Sub-Zero’s new built-in series also includes an advanced air purification system that “scrubs” the entire volume of air in the refrigerator an average of once every 20 minutes. This purification system significantly reduces odors, viruses and bacteria – as well as the ethylene gases present in some foods that cause premature ripening and, ultimately, food spoilage. Some fresh foods, such as apples, naturally emit ethylene gas, which will make carrots in the refrigerator taste bitter and leafy vegetables decay faster.

Another feature of the built-in series is its new water filtration system. Sub-Zero created one of the most-advanced water filtration systems in the industry, designed to significantly reduce contaminants such as viruses and bacteria that may be present in water and ice. Most refrigeration water filters typically reduce chlorine and sediment, but Sub-Zero’s new design takes filtration a step further. The new microbiological water filter preserves the fresh taste of clean water and ice.

Proper food storage is also essential to ensure that foods stay as fresh as possible. Sub-Zero’s built-in units offer a freshness guide within the refrigerator that provides easy-access reference to proper storage for fruits, vegetables and leftovers. Advice featured on the card is based on research conducted by food scientists at the University of California, Davis. A second card offers important use-and-care information so owners can truly understand how to care for their food within the refrigerator.

“People often forget that certain foods shouldn’t be placed within proximity of each other in the refrigerator,” added Parr. “Our new freshness guide offers easy-to-understand tips and reminders that can make a big difference in keeping food fresh.”

These storage tips, along with guides on how to select high quality fruits and vegetables, and other helpful information are also featured on a recently launched Web site to support the launch of the Sub-Zero built-in series, www.subzerofresh.com. The site also gives users an expanded look at the refrigerator’s new features and allows virtual interaction with its capabilities.

Dishwasher Power Wars-Plus a Little Advice

Here’s a fun story straight from the Wall Street Journal:

Marriage counselors say one of the biggest issues that couples fight over is money. But many of us know what’s really the most contentious battleground in the home: the dishwasher.

Except for the family dog, perhaps nothing in the house is louder or wetter, breaks more things, or causes more fights than the dishwasher. It’s just an appliance, but in many families the dishwasher becomes a stainless-steel-and-ceramic metaphor for marital power. Who loads it, how it gets loaded, how often should it be run, and when did it last get emptied – all these questions are like a fuse on a pack of TNT. One spark and there’s a conflagration.

I, of course, know that my method of loading the machine is best: Don’t rinse first, which wastes precious water and time. And silverware goes in tines and blades DOWN, thank you, so you don’t skewer yourself unloading later.

But others disagree. Tines UP, please, and always prewash.

A straw poll around the office reveals that many couples staunchly stick to the method they learned growing up. That means visiting family members who want to “help” in the kitchen can compound the problem. Woe to the well-meaning in-law who puts pot lids on the top instead of the bottom. Or worse, moves things around. Marriages have broken up over less.

One colleague says he always runs the machine immediately once it’s loaded, so no one goes in to rearrange. Another says he divides people into two categories: loaders and emptiers. He’s an emptier.

Dishwasher manufacturer Whirlpool offers some advice on its Web site: “It is not necessary to rinse the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. The wash module removes food particles from the water.” And for silverware: “Mix items in each section of the basket with some pointing up and some down to avoid nesting. … Always load sharp items (knives, skewers, etc.) pointing down.”

But that’s not likely to end the dishwasher wars. Apologies to those of you who wash by hand (maybe you’re happier people!) but readers, do you find you fight over the dishwasher? And if so, how do you reach détente?