August 22, 2014

Aging in Place – Appliance Placement

If you are a retiree building a new home, you can plan your kitchen and laundry areas to accommodate your aging body. For those of us who plan to stay right where we are, some simple adjustments and purchases can make daily tasks easier.

So, let’s start with the easy ones, like the Washer & Dryer. Front loading models are very popular today, but bending over and getting inside for the very last sock can be a problem for those with mobility issues. Most brands, including Bosch, Whirlpool and Frigidaire make pedestals for all their newer models, and can retrofit them to older models.They range from 11″ to 17″, depending on the brand. The other solution is to pull the machines out, and have your contractor frame in a raised platform at just the right height for you, cover it with linoleum, and your washer and dryer will be much more accessible.

Another place to ‘right height’ appliances is in the kitchen. Here are more tips from HB Building and Design: One popular solution is a lowered cooktop with the controls on the front. If you have room to make this modification, and lower this part of the countertop with the adjacent required landing space, it really makes things easier for shorter people, or someone sitting in a wheelchair or using a walker.

The second kitchen appliance that should be considered is the refrigerator. A side-by-side refrigerator freezer is a much better choice, giving access to both the freezer and the refrigerator from a sitting position. In a more extensive remodel, a wall oven can be installed at a lower height as can the microwave oven.

A final consideration are countertops which should be smooth to allow you to slide rather than lift heavy pots and pans. Cabinets can also be prepared for someone with a progressive illness by specifying removable base cabinets for future wheelchair access.

Rating the Latest Appliances – JD Powers Results

The 2010 Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study and 2010 Kitchen Appliance Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power and Associates found that awareness of Energy Star certified appliances has increased among U.S. owners of new appliances since 2009 and so has the percentage who purchased an Energy Star appliance.

According to appliancemagazine.com, 86% of 2010 dishwasher buyers reported buying an Energy Star certified appliance, for an increase of 5% from 2009 and a 9% increase from 2008.

Satisfaction with appliance performance is strongly influenced by the owner’s perception of the appliance’s water and/or energy efficiency, the study found. Customers who report that their appliance is Energy Star certified are more likely to be more satisfied with their appliance than customers who do not indicate that their appliance is certified.

The Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study measured customer satisfaction with clothes washers and dryers based on performance in six factors:


• ease of use
• features (such as the number of settings available and appliance capacity)
• performance and reliability (including energy efficiency, noise level, and how well the appliance functions)
• styling and feel
• warranty
• price

CLOTHES WASHERS: Samsung ranked highest for the second year in a row when it came to satisfying clothes washer owners, with a score of 832 on a 1000-point scale. Samsung performed particularly well in four of six factors:

• performance and reliability
• ease of use
• features
• styling

Other brands that broke the 800-point mark in the clothes washer rankings included:

• Kenmore Elite (817 points)
• Electrolux (816)
• LG (811)
• Maytag Epic (802)

CLOTHES DRYERS: Samsung scored 833 and was No. 1 in the clothes dryer rankings – the third consecutive year it’s been in the top spot. J.D. Power reported that Samsung did particularly well in four of the six factors:

• performance and reliability
• ease of use
• styling
• features

Only two other brands scored more than 800 points in the study:

• LG (814 points)
• Kenmore Elite (809)

Kitchen Appliances Study
Customer satisfaction was measured based on performance in six factors:

• performance and reliability (including how well the appliance functions, noise level, and energy efficiency)
• features (such as the number of settings available and appliance capacity)
• ease of use
• styling and feel
• price
• warranty

REFRIGERATORS: Samsung – for the sixth year in a row – ranked highest in satisfying refrigerator owners with a score of 803. Samsung performed particularly well in:

• ease of use
• performance and reliability
• features.

Samsung was followed by LG (781 points) and Kenmore Elite (776 points).

DISHWASHERS: Miele ranked highest in customer satisfaction in dishwashers with a score of 806 and performed particularly well in four of the six factors:

• performance and reliability
• styling and feel
• features
• warranty

Bosch also cracked the 800-point mark, scoring 801 points.

COOKTOPS/RANGES/OVENS:
Wolf ranked No. 1 in cooking appliances with a score of 812, and performed particularly well in five of six factors:

• ease of use
• performance and reliability
• styling and feel
• features
• warranty

Samsung ran a close second in this category, with a score of 809, and was the only other appliance brand to top the 800-point threshold.

The Studies

The 2010 Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study was based on responses from more than 5100 consumers who purchased clothes washers and more than 5100 consumers who purchased clothes dryers from a retail store or received one through other means (such as a new-home builder or a gift) during the past 24 months. The study was fielded between March and April 2010.

KitchenAid Adds Induction Cooktops to Series

KitchenAid, is now offering induction cooktops in its Architect Series II Collection. If you are not familiar with induction cooking and the difference between cooking with induction technology rather than conventional heating methods, you can read more about them in href="http://www.appliance.net/2007/induction-cooking-is-hot-and-cool/"> Conduction Cooking is Hot- and Cool and How Food Cooks – Conduction, Convection and Radiation. Induction cooking allows a cook to go quickly from a simmer to a sear. Because of this special electromagnetic process, cookware used with the cooktop must be made of magnetic metals such as steel or iron.
The Architect Series II induction cooktops feature nine heat level settings and a performance boost function that increases the temperature level above the highest setting to quickly bring liquids to a boil. A hot surface indicator light provides a warning if the surface is too warm to touch, even after the burner has been turned off. Another helpful feature is size pan detection that automatically adjusts to fit the size of pots and pans in use, a keep warm function, touch activated controls and a frameless design with beveled glass edges.
The suggested retail prices range from $1,999 to $2499.

KitchenAid Introduces First 30″ Five Burner Cooktop

If you’ve been longing for an extra burner, but are short on counter space, KitchenAid offers their newest cooktop- a five burner that fits in a thirty inch space. Part of the new Architect Series II appliance collection, they will also be available in a thirty-six inch size if you have a bit more room to spare.
Its features include full-width cast iron grates, sealed high-output BTU burners ranging from 20,000 BTUs to 7,000. Infinite heat control offer greater more accurate temperatures. Select models have a clear coat protection on the finish and can feature a Glass-TOuch display with a control lockout for safety.
These cooktops are scheduled for availability in early summer, suggested retail prices will range from $1,199 to $1,649.

Shopping Tips – Save Money, be Satisfied

Once you’ve read through our articles on choosing a kitchen appliance and have narrowed down your decision, it’s time to shop.  A good place to start is with your budget.  Knowing what you feel comfortable spending and sticking close to that number will help you to enjoy your new purchases.  One good way to stay within a budget is to decide which appliances you want to splurge on and which ones can be more economical.

These tips will help as you search:

  • Shop for the best buys. Don’t just assume that an appliance warehouse has the best bargains. It’s true that such companies buy directly from the manufacturers, but it’s also common to find a group of smaller dealers who pool their resources to buy bigger volumes at discounted rates from the factory.
  • Consider the value of warranty along with the price. Ask about the extent of the warranty. Which parts are covered? Does the warranty include labor? Will the warranty be honored by another dealer?  In most cases, an extended warranty might no longer be a good investment.
  • Check on installation requirements.Each appliance may have its own requirements. An icemaker on a refrigerator, for example, requires a water line. A downdraft fan on a cooktop eliminates the need for overhead ventilation, but the vent pipe needs outdoor access. Some installations may require the service of a plumber or electrician before the installation.  This will add to the total cost.
  • Find out what is included in the price. If an appliance requires professional installation, ask if that is included in the purchase price. If you decide to install the appliance yourself, be certain the installation charges aren’t included in your purchase price.
  • Although new appliances are a fairly long term investment, they’re not a lifetime commitment like they were 30 years ago,  so take your time deciding, but remember you can upgrade as your budget permits.  So, use these and our other tips and then relax and enjoy your new appliances.

    Choosing Kitchen Appliances – Ovens, Cooktops and Hoods

    Choosing new appliances is one of the biggest decisions homeowners make when remodeling their kitchens. You can’t make a good choice if you don’t know what’s available and what suits your needs. here’s some advice on choosing your oven or cooktop from appliance.net and HowStuffWorks.com

    First, ovens:

    The traditional range or stove, a single unit with cooktop above and oven below, is an affordable, space-conserving solution still chosen by most homeowners. But it’s just one of the cooking options offered today.

    Some serious home cooks choose commercial-style stoves with six or eight burners instead of four, basting and grilling functions, and built-in warming ovens. (Real commercial stoves pose special challenges, such as special ventilation systems and noncombustible walls and floors, when used in the home, so commercial-style may be easier to live with.) Other people love the new modular cooktops that let you add burners, downdrafts, griddles, deep-fry and steamer units, woks, rotisseries, and grills. And these are just a few examples of what’s available!

    The first decision in range shopping has always been gas versus electric. Many serious cooks prefer gas for its instant response, precise controllability, and lower operating cost over time. Others praise the evenness of electric heat and the lower initial cost of the appliance Today, you can get the best of both heating methods with “dual fuel” ranges that let you mix gas and electric heat sources; for example, gas cooktop burners and an electric convection oven/broiler. Convection ovens, most often electric, use heated air to cook up to twice as fast as conventional ovens that rely on radiant heating action. You can even get a combination microwave/convection oven.

    Electric coils are the most popular kind of electric burners, and the least costly. Smooth-top surfaces are offered with one of three heat source types: radiating electric coils beneath the glass surface, halogen burners, or magnetic-induction elements. All require thick, flat-bottom cookware. If gas is your choice, sealed burners are easiest to clean, and a pilotless ignition system means no hot spot when burners are off. Commercial-style glass stoves offer high BTUs (British thermal units, the measure of cooking heat) and high style. They require heavy-duty ventilation systems.

    What about controls? Controls that are located on the front or on the side of the appliance are most common and convenient, but universal access means just that: While someone in a wheelchair can reach front-situated controls easily, unfortunately, so can a curious toddler. People with young children may prefer controls located on the backsplash, out of reach of exploring fingers. Wherever they’re located, controls should be easy to understand and operate. Top-of-the-line ovens may include electronic temperature readouts and touch-pad, rather than knob or dial, controls.

    There is also the option of under the counter ovens that blend into the kitchen design rather than stand out. Just be sure the oven is designed for under the counter use. This type of oven can have a cooktop installed directly over it or elsewhere in the kitchen. On eof the considerations in choosing a cooktop is ease of cleaning. “For easiest cooktop cleaning, consider ranges with ceramic glass cooktops housing electric or halogen burners; simpler knobs and handles; and a top and backsplash constructed from a single piece of metal, so there’s no seam to collect spills. Self-cleaning ovens come in two varieties: one that uses a high-heat cycle that turns cooked-on spills into ash you can wipe away, another that offers a continuous-clean function.”

    On to hoods:

    If you don’t have a ventilation fan above your cooktop that vents to the attic or outside, you’ll want a range hood with ventilation fan built in. Why? Even if you don’t find some cooking odors objectionable, vaporized grease can dull beautiful new kitchen surfaces, and moisture can compromise the efficiency of home insulation. The solution is an updraft range hood that funnels cooking grease and smoke into one area so that the fan can draw it through a duct to the outside.

    Filters capture additional grease and odors. Look for range hoods that come in copper, stainless steel, and other good-looking, easy-care materials, or customize a standard hood with ceramic tile to create a major focal point, furthering your decorating scheme. As an alternative, down-draft ventilation, usually part of a cooktop or grill, also employs a fan and duct arrangement. Units that rise above cooktop level provide the most effective venting.