April 17, 2014

Use Your Appliances to go Green in the Kitchen – Plus a Few Other Helpful Suggestions

Another Earth Day has passed us and just as we make resolutions on New Year’s Day, you might have planned to change your energy wasting ways. Those New Year’s resolutions are difficult to maintain, because we often try to do too much. Making just a few small changes is helpful and can be the key to lasting change.
Lisa Abraham at Ohio.com has compiled her tips for saving energy in the kitchen. They include being creative when using kitchen appliances and modifying some eating habits.

Limit the time the stove/oven is used

Never light the oven or turn on a burner when a small appliance will do the job. Microwave ovens, toaster ovens, electric griddles, panini makers and, yes, even a slow cooker all consume less energy than a traditional gas or electric stove.

Consistently using these small appliances can make a huge difference in your energy consumption, Jackie Newgent a dietitian, cooking instructor and cookbook author of the newly released Big Green Cookbook (Wiley, 2009). said. Even though slow cookers are typically on for hours at a time, they will burn less energy than a traditional oven to prepare the same dish, such as a roast.

Look for ways to lessen the amount of time the oven and burners are on. When cooking pasta, Newgent recommends using skinny varieties, like angel hair, that will cook more quickly. She also uses a method she dubs ”lid cooking” to turn the stove off sooner.

Newgent brings a pot of water to a boil, adds her pasta and brings it up to a boil again. But then she turns the heat off, puts a lid on the pot, and lets the pasta finish cooking from the heated water.

When baking something, turn the oven off five minutes before the item is done and allow the residual heat in the oven to finish the job, she said.

Consider making one meal each week that doesn’t require using the stove at all, such as a salad.

Eat more fruits and vegetables, less meat

Newgent suggests eating one meatless meal per week. It requires more energy to produce meat than vegetables and fruits. Cutting meat out of just one meal per week can lead to significant energy savings over a year, she said.

That salad fits in well here. Think of it as a chance to be a more adventurous eater.

Run an energy-efficient kitchen

While new major kitchen appliances may not be in the budget for many homeowners, most would see an immediate savings on electric bills with the conversion.

Refrigerators should be away from sunlight and heat sources, like ovens. The warmer the environment, the harder the appliance will have to work and the more energy it will use.

Refrigerators also need breathing room — at least two or three inches of open space between the coils and the wall behind them to allow for better air circulation. Keeping refrigerator coils clean of dirt, dust and pet hair also will improve performance.

The harder an appliance has to work, the faster it will wear out.

Constantly opening and closing the refrigerator causes it to lose cold air. The same goes for the oven — keep the door closed as much as possible while in use to keep the hot air inside.

Gas stoves typically are less expensive to run than electric ones.

Always have the dishwasher fully loaded before running, and consider scraping your dishes instead of rinsing them before loading, to save on water.

Newgent also noted that when cooking outdoors, choose a gas grill over charcoal because gas emits less carbon into the atmosphere.

Here is a sample recipe from Jackie Newgent’s Big Green Cookbook:

CITRUS CREAM OF CAPELLINI

13/4 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
12 oz. whole wheat capellini or angel hair pasta
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted organic butter
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp. juice)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black or white pepper, or to taste
1/3 cup freshly grated organic or locally produced Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup raw pine nuts (optional)

Bring 6 cups fresh water and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the pasta and return to a boil. Cover and turn off the heat. Let the pasta ”lid cook” (cook covered while the burner is off) until it is al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Place the drained pasta back into the dried saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the cream, butter, lemon juice and zest. Cook while stirring until the pasta is hot, about 1 minute. For a thinner sauce, add the reserved pasta cooking water. Add remaining salt and pepper.

Pour the pasta into a serving bowl or serve directly from the saucepan. Sprinkle with the cheese and parsley. Top with the pine nuts, if using, and serve.

Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each.

Dishwasher Repairs – Joke-of-the-Day

Jill’s dishwasher quit working so she called in a repairman.

Since she had to go to work the next day, she told the repairman,

‘I’ll leave the key under the mat. Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on
the work top, and I’ll send you a cheque.  Oh, by the way don’t worry about my dog
Spike. He won’t bother you.

But, whatever you do, do NOT, under ANY circumstances, talk to
my parrot!

I MUST STRESS TO YOU: DO NOT TALK TO MY PARROT!!!

When the repairman arrived at the apartment the following day, he discovered the biggest, meanest looking dog he has ever seen.   But, just as she had said, the dog just lay there on the carpet  watching the repairman go about his work.

The parrot, however, drove him nuts the whole time with his incessant yelling, cursing and name calling. Finally the repairman couldn’t contain himself any longer and yelled,

‘Shut up, you stupid, ugly bird!’

To which the parrot replied, ‘Get him,Spike!’

See – Men just don’t listen.*

KitchenAid’s Newest Dishwasher Design

Since a dishwasher is one of those appliances that you only need to buy every ten years or so, (one hopes!) it’s worthwhile to spend time looking for the best dishwasher for your household.  If you are in the market now for a new dishwasher, KitchenAid has added pressure-optimizing wash arms to their new  Superba Series EQ dishwashers.

These wash arms are engineered to provide concentrated wash performance by utilizing a variable speed motor that automatically adjusts power based on water conditions and maximizing energy efficiency while reducing motor noise.

KitchenAid says the dishwasher measures at 41 dBA’s, and has 13 points of sound dampening, to further reduce noise from the motor and wash arms by blocking the path of noise through the dishwasher.  The new dishwasher collection under the KitchenAid name includes the Superba Series EQ, a core Superba Series, and the Classic Series. 

Classic Series models feature four stainless steel wash arms, a 100% stainless steel tall tub, an Optimum Wash Sensor that adjusts the wash cycle to specific water conditions to maximize cleaning effectiveness and efficiency, and a dedicated heating element with a Heat Dry option that heats the tub at the end of the cycle to dry dishes.

This series will be available beginning this Spring.

Appliances Don’t Last a Lifetime, Neither Does the Warranty

It used to be, back in our parents and grandparents time, that a large appliance was a once in a lifetime purchase.  The white, round cornered refrigerator in your great-Aunt’s kitchen was the one she got for Christmas the first year she was married and it was the only one she ever needed.

Boy have times, and appliances changed.  Today, you might get nine years out of your dishwasher and microwave, ten from your washer, and if you’re lucky thirteen out of your dryer and refrigerator.  We’ve detailed the average lifespan in this article if you’d like find out about a specific appliance.

The other issue today is the reduced warranties that the manufacturers are now providing.  Gone are the extended warranties on components.  Now one year is all that is being given.  Not only that, but the service from these manufacturers has declined as well.

Hometownlife.com reports that a reader called to report that her 12-year-old dishwasher ran all night. Her husband turned it on when they went to bed around 10 p.m., and when she walked into the kitchen at 7 a.m., it was still running. She opened the door and the blast of heat was like opening an oven door. She called the manufacturer who sent out a service technician who couldn’t tell her why the dishwasher didn’t shut off. The manufacturer then told her they couldn’t do a thing for her because it was well out of warranty and besides that, they told her the average life span of the dishwasher was six years. They offered her $50 towards the purchase of a new dishwasher provided it was their brand.

Although the dishwasher was not new, one should expect that it would at the least run safely and that the response from the manufacturer would be more helpful.

Here’s a second situation:

“I am having a problem with my Jenn Air oven. It is a double oven. It is also a convection oven. It was manufactured in 1996. The past two nights the bottom oven has been turning on by itself. This morning the bottom oven broiler was on. I called Jenn Air and a service tech is coming out. Jenn Air will pay for the diagnosis but says that the oven is no longer under warranty.”

A person’s home is their haven; they should feel safe there.  Do we have to lie awake at night wondering whether the oven is going to turn itself on and set the house afire?  An appliance should enhance and simplify your life, not add to your list of worries and stresses.

Who Started it?

We are all so accustomed to having a microwave and dishwasher in the kitchen these days, but did you ever wonder who started it all?

In some cases the answer is Whirlpool, and they are proud of it.  Whirlpool introduced the first the countertop microwave and automatic washing machine. KitchenAid which is now owned by Whirlpool, brought us the automatic dishwasher.  Whirlpool also unveiled high capacity, front-load laundry units in the U.S.

Just a little bit of appliance history brought to you today by appliance.net.

Recall: Bosch and Siemens Model Dishwashers by BSH Home Appliances Corporation Due to Fire Hazard

Name of Product: Bosch® and Siemens® Model Dishwashers

Units: About 476,500

Manufacturer: BSH Home Appliances Corp., of Huntington Beach, Calif.

Hazard: An electrical component in certain model dishwashers can overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: BSH Home Appliances has received 51 reports of incidents, including 30 reports of fires resulting in property damage. No injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves certain Bosch® and Siemens® dishwashers manufactured from May 1999 through July 2005. The brand name is printed on the dishwasher’s front control panel. Model and serials numbers are located inside the dishwasher door panel on the upper right side.

Brand Model Numbers Must Begin With Serial Numbers Must Begin With
Bosch SHE43C, SHE44C
SHE46C, SHE56C
SHU33
SHU42
SHU432
SHU43C, SHU53A
FD8503 – FD8507
FD8501 – FD8505
FD7905 – FD8505
FD8407 – FD8505
FD8004 – FD8211
FD8205 – FD8507
Siemens SL34A FD8308 – FD8505

Sold at: Appliance and specialty retailers nationwide from May 1999 through December 2006 for between $550 and $1,100.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the listed model dishwashers and contact the repair hotline for a free repair.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact the BSH Home Appliances at (800) 856-9226 anytime or visit the brand’s Web site at www.boschappliances.com or www.siemens-home.com

Quick Dishwasher Loading Tips

Today’s dishwashers really will do most of the work for you.  No more scrubbing before loading.  If you are the type of person who cleans the house before the housekeeper comes, this might be a hard habit to kick, but hey – think of all the other tasks you can do with the time you’ll save.  You can alphabetize your spices!

The tips:

* Soiled surfaces should always face the interior of the machine, where the spray is most likely to reach them. 

* Don’t put glasses over the prongs, because that impedes the water’s flow. Use the prongs to prop them up from the outside.

* Never overlap pans. Let the whole cooking surface lie face-down on the rack.

* Knife edges should point downward, forks should point upward, and spoons can go either way. (Just check that they aren’t nesting)

I have found that not rinsing the dishes works best if the dishwasher is being run right away, but your results may vary.

EnergyStar Standards for Dishwashers get Tougher

We have a question on our forums here at appliance.net asking readers to post about their favorite appliance.  Surprisingly, no one mentioned their dishwasher.  Dishwashers save not only time, but energy and water as well. The Department of Energy (DOE) has not rated dishwashers for their water usage until now.  Currently, the EnergyStar rating is based on energy usage.  The change could save American families more than $25 million in energy and water bills in the first 6 months the criteria are in effect.

The criteria will go into effect in two phases. The first set of criteria will apply on August 11, 2009, and the second will apply on July 1, 2011. DOE estimates that by 2012, the new guidelines will save Americans 671 billion Btu and 1.13 billion gallons of water per year. With the new water saving requirement, consumers using ENERGY STAR dishwashers will save more than a gallon of water with each dishwashing cycle. Manufacturers are also eligible to receive tax credits for the production of dishwashers that meet the new ENERGY STAR dishwasher criteria under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

In the first phase, ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers will be required to be at least 48% more efficient than federal energy efficiency standards require, saving the nation over 71 million kWh of energy and more than 500 million gallons of water per year. Stricter federal energy efficiency standards take effect January 1, 2010. In the second phase, ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers must be at least 13.5% more efficient than the 2010 federal energy efficiency standards, saving the Nation over 95 million kWh of energy and more than 830 million gallons of water per year. The ENERGY STAR criteria for dishwashers were last modified on January 1, 2007.