June 23, 2017

Archives for April 2010

Approved Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Programs

If you are wondering which Department of Energy (DOE) rebates are available in your state, just check out this interactive map.  There is also a simple table listing the individual states along with the total rebate dollars available, websites and phone numbers.

DOE has approved the appliance rebate programs for the states and territories linked or listed on this page as of April 27, 2010. This list and map will be updated as additional program details are available.  This DOE site is the only official DOE-sponsored Web site – beware of other unofficial sites.

Appliance Rebates are Here – But Not for Long

The federal appliance rebates are finally here, but if you want yours, you’d better act fast.

According to the Wall Street Journal,  in Florida  the $17.6 million allocated for the program lasted a day and half, as more than 72,000 claims were filed. In Illinois, the second half of its $12.4 million, made available on Friday, April 16th disappeared in 11 hours.

Nationwide, $300 million in rebate money has been allocated by the federal government to 56 states and territories to encourage residents to buy furnaces, clothes washers, refrigerators and other appliances with the government’s Energy Star label. Typically, rebates run about $75 for a clothes washer and several hundred dollars for home heating and cooling systems.

But in an experience reminiscent of last year’s popular “cash for clunkers” program, which paid consumers to trade in gas-guzzling automobiles, interest in the appliance programs has been so been intense that the state programs are often running dry in a matter of days.

For example, Melissa Woodall, a single mother of three in Miami, said she began scanning appliance ads a few weeks ago for a new stove. She noticed an article about the rebates and decided to replace her old, leaky dishwasher and refrigerator.

The day before qualified purchases were allowed, she visited Sears to pick out the appliances. On Friday, she arrived to the store at 6:30 a.m. and found 49 customers in line. Fortunately, the store had given her a printout the night before. All she had to do was pay and arrange delivery, which still took an hour and a half in the crowded store.

And the ordeal was not over, Ms. Woodall said — she still had to get the rebate itself. At 11 a.m., when online signups began, she and her sister went to the state’s rebate site. “The Web site was flooded. It kept crashing,” she said. It took her an hour and 15 minutes to get registered for the rebate.

It was worth it, Ms. Woodall said. She paid about $1,500 for the dishwasher and fridge and will be getting about $500 back.

Each state has structured its own program, sometimes excluding certain appliances like air-conditioners or requiring proof that old appliances were recycled before paying out the cash. The amount of money available varies widely, from more than $35 million in California, where the program was scheduled to start on Thursday in connection with Earth Day, to $100,000 in American Samoa.

The federal government created the appliance rebate program as part of the 2009 stimulus legislation, and retailers say it has increased sales.

The high interest is understandable. The rebate programs come on top of existing discounts on Energy Star appliances, recycling and take-back rebates for old units, and specials provided by individual retailers. In some cases, consumers may qualify for federal or state tax credits, too.

You Can Use Less Laundry Detergent

Over the next few weeks, Procter & Gamble plans to introduce easier-to-read plastic measuring caps for its liquid detergent brands, including Tide, Gain, Era and Cheer. The new caps will have more-defined measurement lines inside and bigger numbers that are staggered, not stacked, says Dawn French, P&G’s head of laundry research and development for North America.

Why?  Because, according to the Wall Street Journal, Americans use too much detergent per load.  They have come to think that more soap equals cleaner clothes, which is not the case – rather it causes build-up and dingy colors.  Additionally,  more consumers are buying high-efficiency washers which need even less of today’s concentrated detergents.

Packaging, in most cases, hasn’t helped. The molded lines and numbers inside detergent caps are hard to read, especially in a dimly lit laundry room. And even though concentrated detergents have been on the market since at least 2007, many caps still hold more than is needed for an average load.

Method Products Inc. this month launched an ad blitz for a new detergent with a pump dispenser, designed to help curb overdosing. Method found that 53% of people don’t use the recommended amount of detergent per washload, preferring instead to guess or, worse, to simply fill the cap up to the top—a practice that wastes more than half the loads a detergent bottle could wash, Method executives say.

Through much of Europe, detergent premeasured in tablets and sachets has been popular for years. But in the U.S., pre-dosed products have been largely unsuccessful. Consumers usually pick up their laundry habits during adolescence from their mothers, and changing them is hard, says Bob Deutsch, founder of Brain Sells, a marketing consulting firm.

American consumers, it seems, also want more control. Many people have their own laundry “recipe,” and each one believes her unique method leads to superior results, industry executives say. P&G, the world’s leading detergent maker, calls such involved laundry doers “master chemists.”

General Electric Co.’s top-of-the-line Profile frontload washer offers to take on all dosing decisions itself. The SmartDispense feature, adding $600 to the cost of the machine, holds up to six months’ worth of detergent and allocates the right amount for each load, taking the detergent concentration level and the amount of clothes into account.

Proper dosing is the biggest laundry concern among callers to Seventh Generation Inc.’s help line, says Sue Holden, head of the consumer-insights team at the Burlington, Vt., household-product maker. Two years ago, the company started making its detergent bottle cap with translucent plastic partly to make it easier to read. “We’re trying to train people to do something that doesn’t come naturally,” says Ms. Holden. “Growing up, a lot of us just poured it in.”

Seventh Generation’s co-founder, Jeffrey Hollender, wonders why more people haven’t stumbled upon laundry’s big, dirty secret: “You don’t even need soap to wash most loads,” he says.  The agitation of washing machines often does the job on its own.

Thermador Introduces New Steam and Convection Oven

The new Thermador Steam and Convection Oven is the industry’s first steam oven to combine three distinct cooking solutions – Steam, True Convection and Combination (Steam and Convection) – with 40 automatic food programs and nine advanced cooking modes.

The oven features 40 EasyCook food programs that automatically set temperature and humidity levels for specific foods to ensure maximum results.

Nine advanced cooking modes meet every cooking need.
o True Convection (85-450oF) – A fan on the back wall distributes the heat evenly throughout. For moist cakes, sponge cakes and braised meat.
o Steaming (95-210oF) – For vegetables, fish, sides and extracting fruit juice.
o Combination (250-450oF) – A blend of steam and convection modes. For fish, soufflés and baked goods.
o Reheat (210-360oF) – Cooked food is gently reheated. The inflow of steam keeps the food moist, and brings back the original flavor, texture and crispness.
o Proof (95-120oF) – Steam and convection modes are combined to keep the surface of bread dough from drying out. This special cooking mode enables the dough to rise much faster than at room temperature.
o Slow Cook (140-250oF) – Tenderizes all meat cuts and types, especially roast beef and leg of lamb.
o Defrost (95-140oF) – Steam and convection modes are combined. Humidity transfers heat to the food, maintaining its moisture and shape. Ideal for fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.
o Keep Warm (140-210oF) – Designed to keep food warm for up to one hour without drying it out.
o Dish Warm (85-160oF) – This mode prevents food in preheated ovenware from cooling as quickly. Perfect for ovenware and plates.

 Six Favorite settings allow automatic pre-programming for personal dishes and frequent recipes.
 The SteamClean feature steam-cleans the interior with a push of a button.

The Thermador Steam and Convection Oven will be available August 1, 2010 at high-end appliance retailers, for an MSRP ranging from $3,299 to $3,499.

Recall: Eastwind Industries Kuuma Stow and Go Grills Due to Fire Hazard; Sold Exclusively at West Marine Stores

Name of Product: Kuuma IR Stow and Go Grills

Units: About 4,600

Importer: Eastwind Industries Inc., of San Leandro, Calif.

Hazard: If the fuel container is not completely threaded on the regulator during installation, the propane tanks can leak fuel. This poses a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Eastwind Industries has received three reports of fires from leaking propane tanks, resulting in reports of minor burns to the hands.

Description: This recall involves Kuuma IR Stow and Go barbecue grills. The rectangle grill is stainless steel with the word “Kuuma” embossed on the front. The grill’s main housing measures 18 ½ inches long x 8 ½ inches tall x 10 inches deep. Model number 83726 is printed on the barcode label affixed to the packaging.

Sold exclusively at: West Marine stores nationwide from January 2009 through August 2009 for between $100 and $140.

Manufactured in: Thailand

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled barbecue grills and contact Eastwind for a new operator’s manual with revised graphic installation instructions. Consumers will also receive a new tool to use for maintenance and cleaning of the fuel system.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Eastwind Industries toll-free at (866) 995-8862 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.kuumaproducts.com

CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx

Recall: Lennox Hearth Products Vent-Free Gas Logs and Fireplaces Due to Gas Leak and Fire Hazards

Name of product: Superior VFGL Vent-Free Gas Log Sets and VF Vent-Free Fireplaces

Units: About 5,700

Manufacturer: Lennox Hearth Products, of Nashville, Tenn.

Hazard: The front burners of vent-free gas log set fireplace inserts and the vent-free fireplaces can fail to ignite allowing gas to escape and posing a fire or explosion hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Lennox received two reports from installers of the log sets failing to light. No injuries were reported.

Description: The recalled products are Lennox Superior brand VFGL Log Sets and VF4000, VF5000 and VF6000 fireplaces. Log sets are comprised of ceramic-fiber logs with a dual gas burner system and are designed to be placed in a wood-burning fireplace or a ventless firebox enclosure. Fireplaces are comprised of log sets, a ventless firebox enclosure and accessories. Each product has a metal rating plate attached to the grate of the log sets or to the frame of the fireplaces containing the unit’s model number, serial number and other information. The following models are affected by this recall:

Vent-Free Gas Log Set Models

VFGL18 — MSN — 4
VFGL18 — MSP — 4
VFGL24 — MSN — 4
VFGL24 — MSP — 4
VFGL28 — MSN — 4
VFGL28 — MSP — 4
VFGL18 — VSN — 4
VFGL18 — VSP — 4
VFGL24 — VSN — 4
VFGL24 — VSP — 4
VFGL28 — VSN — 4
VFGL28 — VSP — 4

Vent-Free Gas Fireplace Models

VF4000 — CHN — 2
VF4000 — CHP — 2
VF4000 — CMN — 2
VF4000 — CMP — 2
VF5000 — CMN — 2
VF5000 — CMP — 2
VF6000 — CMN — 2
VF6000 — CMP — 2

Included in this recall are units with serial numbers starting with “6408C” through “6408M,” and those starting with “6409.” Units that had repairs made to the burner assembly between March 2008 and December 2009 are also included.

Sold by: Various fireplace and HVAC retailers and installers from March 2008 through December 2009 for approximately $540 to $775 for the log sets and $1,300 to $1,850 for the fireplaces.

Manufactured in: U.S.A.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled log sets and fireplaces and contact Lennox for information about how to arrange for a free inspection and repair.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, please contact Lennox Hearth Products at (800) 826-8546 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at http://www.lennoxhearthproducts.com


Avoiding the 10 Most Common Laundry Problems – From the Thor Appliance Company

1. Detergent Overuse

As highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, Americans continue to overuse laundry detergent. Detergent overuse not only shortens of the life of clothing, it can damage or even ruin a perfectly fine washing machine.

High levels of detergent can get trapped in fabric, making clothing appear dingy and faded. Inside your laundry machine, detergent residue gums up the inner workings of your washer, including the door gasket and drain system. In a washer dryer combo, suds from too much soap can accumulate in the condensing chamber, causing longer dry times.

The reason for detergent overuse is twofold. High efficiency washers of today use significantly less water (and therefore need less detergent) than the top loaders of an earlier era. While Americans are still getting used to new frontload machines, they continue to measure detergent based on top load washers. Making matters worse, modern detergents are much more concentrated, which means that a little goes a long way.

Today, accurately measuring out laundry detergent is more important than ever. Be sure to read the detergent box to determine the correct amount of soap for your load size and water temperature.

2. Overloading

Even with the expanded capacity of modern washers and dryers, overloading continues to be a common problem. Unlike old tub-style topload washers which use an agitator to stir clothing clean, new frontload machines clean by tumbling laundry. In order for frontload washers to work properly, there must be room for the laundry to tumble. These washers should be loaded to about 3/4 of full capacity to allow the clothing to fall away from the drum during the wash cycle. An overfilled washer will result in poor cleaning results and wrinkled laundry.

3. Forgetting to Empty the Lint Filter

Forgetting to empty the lint screen not only creates longer dry times, it can be a potential fire hazard. When emptied after each cycle, lint filters eliminate the collection of gooey lint in vent line ducting. However, screens that are not cleaned regularly can cause potentially hazardous lint accumulation within the dryer housing.

A perfect kindling for a fire, lint that comes in contact with a dryer’s heating element has the potential to ignite. While newer dryers are designed to be less susceptible to fires, no dry system is completely immune from years of lint built up.

Take the time to empty the lint screen after each cycle and be sure to inspect old dryers for lint accumulation behind the filter and where the vent line exits the back of the machine.

4. Forgetting to Remove Packing Bolts

Frontload washers use packing bolts to secure the machine’s suspension system during transportation. If the packing bolts are not removed before the washer is operated, the suspension system will not function and the machine will jump and vibrate. Be sure to refer to your user manual for directions on how to remove packing bolts. Also, remember to replace packing bolts if your washer is moved to a new location.

5. Not Using Fabric Softener

When most of us think of fabric softener, we think of soft fluffy towels or that snuggly little teddy bear. And while fabric softener can make your towels fluffy and your sweater softer, it also plays an important role in frontload washer operation.

As mentioned earlier, frontload washers tumble clothing during the wash cycle. In addition, they extract water by spinning laundry between rinses. The high speed spin of a frontload washer can cause clothing to stick to the side of the drum, keeping them from tumbling freely during the rinse cycle. A small dose of fabric softener will help laundry fall away from the drum and ensure that clothing is rinsed properly.

If you are averse to using a scented fabric softener, there are many mild and unscented softeners on the market today.

6. Mixing Fabrics and Colors

As life gets more hectic, we’re all more apt to cut corners when it comes to laundry. This often results in tossing every color and fabric type in the washer and selecting a warm water wash. Mixing colors and fabrics can not only discolor clothing (e.g. the pink sock that used to be white), it can break down delicate fabrics.

Be sure to read the washing instructions on each garment and take a few extra minutes to sort laundry into white, colors and delicates. Not only will your clothes last longer, you won’t have to be seen with that embarrassing pink sock.

7. Shrinkage

In a push for record breaking dry times, many appliance manufactures have turbo charged dry cycles with scorching heat and too often poor results. Excessive heat can ruin delicate clothing and significantly shrink cotton fabric. Hang drying garments in the spring and summer is a good way to save energy and avoid cotton shrinkage – and a quick five minute fluff in the dryer will release any wrinkles that may have developed while hang drying. In the cooler months, selecting a more moderate dry cycle will extend the life of clothing and keep shrinkage to a minimum.

8. Out of Balance Loads

Unless you live adjacent to a pile driving project, the sound of an out of balance washer is hard to mistake. While most modern washers have an automatic shut-off trigger that eliminates damage to the machine, the few seconds of earth shattering pounding is not something that can (or should) be ignored.

While reshuffling clothing will usually do the trick, larger blankets and bedding can be hard to balance, particularly if they’re too bulky to fit comfortably in your washing machine. The best way to avoid out of balance loads is to use an extra large washer at your neighborhood laundromat or have those bulky items professionally laundered.

9. Pens and Other Pocket Hazards

Long hailed as a nerdy fashion accessory, the pocket protector just might be the best defense against this next laundry mistake. That’s because one unsuspecting ballpoint pen left is a pocket can ruin an entire load of clothing.

If a single ink stain is tough to remove, image dozens on ink streaks scattered over an entire load of shirts and pants. The best way to avoid this disaster (other than the pocket protector idea) is to take the extra time to check each pocket for pens, gum, rocks or any other unfriendly item that may cause harm to your clothing or washer and dryer.

10. Leaky Hoses

A leaky or bursting washer hose can cause major water damage in a matter of minutes. Like any material, the rubber used in laundry hoses breaks down after years of use, particularly under high pressure. Thankfully there are a number of products on the market that can eliminate leaks before they become disasters.

There are many aftermarket multi-layered hoses that offer additional flood protection. One word of caution about aftermarket hoses; many European washing machines have custom hoses with a metric sized connection for the washer and a standard sized connection for the water input. In this case, you may need to stick with the stock hoses or search for a more customized hose option that blends metric and standard sizing.

Whirlpool Wins $1.78 Million From LG in Patent Case

According to Businessweek.com, Whirlpool Corp., the world’s largest appliance maker, won $1.78 million in patent- infringement damages from Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. in a continuing dispute over refrigerator technology.

After a seven-day trial in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, the jury of five women and three men also decided that Whirlpool didn’t infringe an LG icemaker patent. “We’re gratified that the jury found that our patent is both valid and infringed,” Scott F. Partridge, one of Whirlpool’s lawyers, said in an interview after the verdict.

LG, of Seoul, sued Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Whirlpool in 2008 alleging infringement of a U.S. patent for an ice dispenser. Whirlpool countersued, claiming LG infringed patents for in-door ice-access and warp-proof refrigerator liners. LG said in a statement it would seek a judicial review of the verdict.

During two days of deliberations, jurors repeatedly examined a row of LG and Whirlpool double-door refrigerators with icemakers lined up in the courtroom, comparing claims of the patents and how the equipment works.

LG had asked the jury to award it more than $1 million in royalties, and Whirlpool originally asked for a minimum of $22.1 million in its suit.

The case was complicated by a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling in Washington last month that LG didn’t violate a Whirlpool patent for ice storage and may still import refrigerators.

In its statement, LG said the jury “was not permitted to hear any evidence concerning the ITC investigation.”

LG is the No. 3 appliance maker behind Whirlpool and Sweden’s Electrolux AB. LG reported more than $7 billion in home appliance sales last year and is aiming to become the world’s largest maker of refrigerators and washing machines by 2012.

LG agreed to modify the design of the ice maker in some of its refrigerators to resolve part of the ITC dispute.