September 15, 2014

Shopping for Energy Efficient Appliances

Here’s a great line I just read at bhrealestate.com

Every appliance has two prices: the sticker price, and the one you pay to run the appliance year-round.

When purchasing a new appliance, buyers might be tempted to buy the unit with the lowest sale price while ignoring the long term costs of running it.

Choosing a highly energy efficient appliance can save more money than the additional purchase difference and if used long enough, add to your savings. According to Energy Star, the organization the certifies the efficiency of appliances, in 2007, Americans bought enough ENERGY STAR appliances to limit emissions equivalent to green house gases from 27 million cars — all the while saving $16 billion on their utility bills, or roughly one-third their annual utility cost.

Look for machines that have earned the ENERGY STAR label, meaning they have met strict energy-efficiency guidelines. It’s also important to check the bright yellow EnergyGuide labels on appliances to see consumption rates for that model expressed in annual kilowatt hours and the approximate annual cost of running the appliance.

The article also offered some helpful shopping tips:

Refrigerators – Next to your furnace and water heater, your refrigerator uses the most energy in your home, so make sure a new fridge suits your needs. If it’s too large, you’ll waste energy cooling phantom food; too small may simply be inconvenient. Models with freezers on the top or bottom are more efficient than those with freezers on the side.

Stoves – Cooking habits should determine which is best for you. While the design and price of today’s gas and electric stoves are similar, gas stoves require less energy for stovetop cooking. If you do a lot of baking or oven use, however, the electric stove is a better option.

Clothes Washers – According to the EPA, Horizontal-axis washers (front loaders) use 50 percent less energy, less water and less soap. This translates into savings on average of about $95 a year for the average household

Clothes Dryers – ENERGY STAR does not label dryers since most consume the same amount of energy. Do, however, try to buy one with a moisture sensor that will automatically shut off the dryer when your clothes are dry, rather than completing the cycle.

Air Conditioners – Ensure correct size for your room and go for energy efficiency. If it’s cooling a sunny room, consider increasing capacity by 10 percent.

Natural gas and oil systems
– Look for the Federal Trade Commission EnergyGuide label with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. This measures the seasonal annual efficiency (ENERGY STAR furnaces have a 90 AFUE rating or above).

The added initial cost of energy efficient appliances may seem high, but the savings show up over time and they are gentler on the environment.

Helpful Refrigerator Tips

Here are a few quick ideas to help keep your fridge cool and your family healthy:

Refrigerate hot foods as soon as possible and within two hours after cooking.  You can put hot foods in the refrigerator – they cool faster there – just put them in small, shallow containers for faster cooling.

Keep the refrigerator at 40F degrees or lower.  If you’re not sure of te temperature, you can buy and inexpensive refrigerator thermometer and adjust the temperature if necessary.

Date leftovers so they can be used within a safe time.  Most foods are usually safe if eaten within three to five days of being refrigerated.  Foods from restaurants should generally be eaten sooner.

Don’t overload the refrigerator. You need space between the containers for the cold air to circulate.  This not only keeps the food uniformly cold, but helps the unit run efficiently.

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.

Size is Important When Buying a Refrigerator

One of the benefits of replacing an older refrigerator with a new one is knowing that you will be saving energy using the new model.

Jame Duley at the Columbus Dispatch writes:

The energy savings from a more efficient compressor and insulation should pay back the cost of a new model over its lifetime. My refrigerator is about 16 years old. We had a power outage, and my food warmed within eight hours and had to be trashed. My neighbor has a new model, and the insulation kept food in his refrigerator safely below 40 degrees for the same time period.

When selecting a new refrigerator, the size is the most important factor affecting its electricity usage. Select as small a model as will meet your requirements. You can base the size requirements on your existing refrigerator size and how full it typically is, not on the few holiday occasions when you’re making dinner for your extended family.

Don’t buy one that will be consistently too small and then perhaps plan to buy another small backup or keep your old one running in the basement or garage. This will use much more electricity than just buying a larger one initially. Features such as split shelves and pullout shelves that crank up and down can increase the usable interior space with a smaller size.

Models with the freezer on top are most energy-efficient because the cool air naturally drops from the freezer to cool the refrigerator section. Top-freezer models also tend to have the most interior space for a given exterior size, so they’re ideal if your space is limited.

You can figure on about 80 percent of advertised interior volume as actual usable space.

How to Remove Refrigerator Odor

We’ve all experienced power outages and the mess of melted and spoiled food that must be cleaned once the power is restored. If the power is out for an extended period of time, the smell of rotten food can be hard to remove.

Here are step-by-step instructions from inrich.com for getting the smell out:

Start by cleaning the refrigerator compartment thoroughly. Anne Field, an emeritus extension specialist with Michigan State University Extension, suggests this method: Unplug the appliance, remove all food and removable interior parts, and wash the interior with a solution of 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. Rinse and wipe dry.

Leave the door open and let the refrigerator air out, with a fan directed toward the inside. If weather permits, open the kitchen windows.

Field recommends washing removable shelves and other parts in a warm detergent solution. Don’t put glass or plastic parts in hot water, she cautions. They might crack, especially if they’re cold.

Clean the door gasket with a detergent solution, too.

Next, clean the freezer compartment following the instructions that came with the appliance manual. If you don’t have a manual, contact the manufacturer. Some can be found online.

Ways to absorb odors: If odor remains, Field suggests trying one or all of these removal methods:

  • Spread baking soda on shallow pans and place them on the shelves of the empty refrigerator to absorb odors. Leave the door open and the refrigerator unplugged.
  • Spread activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, in shallow pans and place the pans on the shelves. Turn the refrigerator on low and run it empty a few days till the odors are absorbed.
  • You can also try the same method with cat litter spread on shallow pans, several ounces of imitation vanilla (not pure vanilla extract) poured into a saucer or fresh ground coffee in cereal bowls. With the coffee method, a slight coffee odor might remain, but it can be removed by cleaning the refrigerator again with baking soda solution, Field says.
  • Pack each shelf of an empty refrigerator with crumpled newspaper. Set a cup of water on the top shelf or sprinkle the newspaper lightly with water. Allow the refrigerator to run for five or six days. This method takes longer, but Field says it can be effective in removing strong odors.
  • Buy a commercial odor remover. One brand Field suggests is Odors Away by Wrap-on Co., available at some hardware and hospital supply stores.
  • If none of the methods removes all the odor, Field says it probably has penetrated the insulation. You can contact an appliance service company for an estimate on the cost of removing the liner and replacing the insulation, but replacing the refrigerator may be a better choice, she says.

    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.

    Tips for Saving Money and Energy Around the House

    Looking for ways to save money? Look no further than your kitchen. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) offers these simple energy savings tips to consumers looking for ways to cut energy bills this summer.

    The energy consumed by home appliances has dropped sharply since 2000.
    Refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers combined account for a 43% decrease in
    energy consumption since 2000. Replacing an eight year old refrigerator, dishwasher and
    clothes washer with new appliances of average efficiency will save consumers about
    $95.00 per year in energy bills. Replacing an eight year old clothes washer will save
    more than $60.00 in electricity costs and nearly 5,000 gallons of water per year.
    Additional savings can be obtained by purchasing Energy Star appliances.

    Energy savings can also be obtained by following these easy tips:

    • If you are replacing your refrigerator, do not use the old refrigerator as a second
    refrigerator. This will not yield energy savings. Properly recycle the appliance.
    To find recycling options in your area, call 1-800-YES-1-CAN.

    • Allow hot foods to cool before placing them in the refrigerator; and always cover
    foods that may release moisture in the refrigerator.

    • Limit opening the refrigerator and freezer doors. Label foods or use clear food
    storage bags to easily identify foods.

    • Scrape, but do not pre-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
    Dishwashers do a great job of cleaning soiled dishes.

    • Take advantage of your dishwasher’s “eco” option that reduces water use, or use a
    no-heat air dry feature.

    • Use load size settings- if you are washing a small load of clothing, be sure to
    change the load setting. Use cold water settings whenever possible.

    • Always clean the lint filter on the clothes dryer after each use. A clogged filter
    will reduce dryer performance.

    Dacor’s New Indoor/Outdoor Refrigerator

    Dacor’s newest addition to its Epicure line is designed to fit neatly under any counter in an outdoor patio or kitchen layout, the unit stands at 33″ tall and 24″ wide and will easily slide into standard cabinetry openings. An innovative digital electronic control panel allows users to adjust the temperature with the simple touch of a button, a charcoal filter removes unwanted odors, keeping contents pure and the unit boasts quiet storage due to a vibration-free compressor.

    Available with a stainless steel door with left- or right-hand door swing options, the refrigerator is built to withstand temperatures from 50 degrees to 109 degrees Fahrenheit, is efficient at maintaining internal temperatures and can to be used to store milk and fresh food storage in addition to beverages. The refrigerator is the ideal accessory for any bar or entertainment area and has the capacity to hold 124 cans or 50 bottles.