How to Choose A Dishwasher

Practically every well-equipped kitchen has a dishwasher. The latest models in the market are packed with features and are available in different finishes, so that you do not have to worry about matching them to your kitchen décor.

Most people opt for the stainless-steel finish that looks trendy yet is easy to maintain. Most dishwashers work silently and use very little power per wash cycle. They use water conservatively and come with a drying option. Energy is further saved if you go in for a dishwasher that comes with internal water heating since that removes grease from the dishes without having an impact on your home’s hot water supply.

As such, kitchen appliances like dishwashers are investments that make life a great deal easier, hence they must be chosen with care. Let us understand how a dishwasher works before looking at how to choose the right dishwasher.

How A Dishwasher Works

A dishwasher is automatic equipment that cleans and washes your dirty dishes. Once you load the dishes, add cleaning agents, preset the washing cycle, and switch the machine on, it begins the cleaning process. It first fills itself with water and then heats the water.

The cleaning agent dispenser is opened and combined with the water to clean the dishes. At the end of the cycle, the dirty water is drained out. More water is sprayed on the dishes and they are rinsed after which the water drains out again. The air in the dishwasher is now heated to dry the dishes.

Most dishwashers come with a timer setting that controls the cycle length. Sensors ensure that the water and air temperature are right, so that neither the dishwasher nor your dishes get damaged through overheating. There are also sensors that can intuitively decide when the dishes are clean.

Buying the Right Dishwasher

Dishwashers are efficient. Also, depending on your specific requirement, you can go for the features you will use the most. Keep size, durability and convenience in mind when choosing a dishwasher. Expect to spend in the range of $200 to $2000 depending on the features and model you go for.

Choosing the Correct Size

Dishwashers come in different sizes. There are small in-sink dishwashers that are integrated into a portion of your kitchen sink. These manage to wash a full load in 20 minutes and can be covered and used as a countertop when not in use. Most dishwashers are about two feet wide although you also get units that are smaller. The larger the dishwasher the more you can load.

There are portable or built-in models. The built-in models can be discreetly blended with panelling to match your kitchen cabinetry.

Convenience

The simple models come with plastic basins while larger units have stainless steel basins. While lower end model filters must be manually cleaned, the expensive ones have self-cleaning systems. Dish racks are available in a large variety like collapsible, folding tines, removable etc. with a lot of flexibility.

Other Helpful Features

You can go for lower end models with mechanical controls like dials or invest more in push button controls and digital readouts. If you opt for the higher end models, you can enjoy electronic touch pad controls, durable stainless-steel fittings, different wash cycles for china, crystal, heavy pots and pans etc. The mid-level models have push button controls and dials with three wash cycles, namely light, normal and heavy.

Energy and Water Use

Energy and water use is an important factor. Look for a US Energy Star rating on the dish washer to save on utility bills. A good dishwasher will always save energy, water and of course, time.

Dishwashers are available as both residential and commercial models. They are a convenience as they work efficiently to save time, energy and water. Choosing the right dishwasher depends on a variety of factors.

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Tips on saving electricity in your home

With the ever increasing costs of living and global warming, there should be better time when we stop throwing money out the window and save some by starting to make our own electricity.

Electrical energy was one of man’s greatest discoveries, and it has helped build new civilizations. The large amount of electricity produced has its source in water, wind, fossil fuels, and nuclear fission. Here I will explore the different methods to save on electric bills for everyone.

The most dificult day of every month is when it is time to pay bills, and the biggest bill most of the time is that electricity bill that we get. It’s high time that we take serious measures to reduce and save on electric bills. Do not worry, we will share some key tips and will make sure you reach your goal.

Make sure to tell your family members about the importance of saving electricity. For children you can setup a reward system for them for saving electricity. Teach them some tips like switching off the lights when they are not in a room. Make sure to switch off all the appliances even if you are sure to be back in five minutes, every single second will help a lot just like every drop of water makes an ocean.

Another great way to save on electric bills is replace all the incandescent bulbs in the house with compact fluorescent light or those CFL bulbs. These bulbs consume less electricity as they consume less power.

Take a huge step forward and avoid using those typical items regularly that consumes alot of power –
• The washing machine should be used only when there is a bucket full of clothes.
• The air-conditioner should be kept at minimum high or low temperature.
• Take note to switch off the computer monitor when not in use. It consumes maximum power and it just takes a second to switch it off.

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Make the Coolest Choice In Refrigerators

You can safely say that refrigerators are among the top three most important appliances in the kitchen. In earlier times, the aim behind buying a kitchen refrigerator was to preserve food and keep it cold.

Now it is not such a simple affair choosing. Today, there are too many styles and designs to choose from. Therefore, it pays to be well informed before you decide to buy.

As far as features are concerned, the good news is that today’s refrigerators are a lot more energy efficient than those that were made two or three decades ago, thanks to advances in technology.

The most crucial factor while choosing a refrigerator would be the capacity. Your fridge needs to be at least 70% full to give you the best performance; otherwise, it simply consumes energy.

Your refrigerator’s interiors must be well designed so that you can handle it easily and your food stays fresh. You might want to consider the following refrigerator features when you are trying to decide:

*Shelves that are spill proof

*Shelves with adjustable height

*Water dispensers

*Baskets and shelves that glide out

*Crisper s and storage bins that can be adjusted

*Vegetable crisper with humidity control

Depending on the kind of food items you usually tend to store is another factor to look at. Freezer capacity is also important, so think about what you plan to store there.

Slide out shelves are easy to handle. Transparent storage bins let you know what is inside them. There are refrigerators with storage space on the door where you can keep your bottles and other containers.

An A to Z list of refrigerator features

Refrigerator features can easily make your new refrigerator a dream come true or a horror story. When your buying don’t be dazzled by a lot of features that you are never going to use make sure you do some research and really think about what you need for your present, and future, family lifestyle. Please take some time to look at these features and decide which ones you need and are willing to pay for.

*In door ice/water dispenser-Handy, and cost effective, if you have someone in the house that drinks a lot of water or needs ice frequently.

*Moisture/Humidity controls-Helps retain the moisture, and freshness of food. Useful for families that buy food that needs to be stored for long periods of time.

*Airflow vents-Newer refrigerators have multiple vents to allow a more uniform distribution of temperature. Useful for larger refrigerators but not smaller ones that only need one vent sometimes referred to as ‘direct’.

*Temperature controls-Either dial or digital controls of the refrigerator compartments. Digital controls are far more accurate then dial but also come with a price tag.

*Freezer lamp-Lights the freezer when the door is opened. Useful if you have minimal light or keep a fully stocked freezer.

*Reversible door swing-Enables you to change the swing of the door from right-handed to left-handed. A great feature if you move often or if you are not sure where you want to put your refrigerator.

*Clean back or coil free-Puts the condenser coils on the bottom instead of the back. Makes it easier to clean and look more attractive.

*Open door alarm-Warns you when the door is left open for an extended period of time. Helpful for families with forgetful people.

*Door lock feature-Allows you to lock the door. Helpful when you have kids, or even adults, that you want to keep out of the refrigerator.

*Separators-Keep items in the bins separated from one another. Handy if you need to keep heavier food from crushing other items or if you just like cooking with fresh ingredients.

*Egg racks-Keeps eggs from moving around. If you’re an egg person this is a great item.

Styles Of Refrigerators

There are different types of refrigerators in the market today and taking a good look at them can help select the one that suits your specific needs. The basic styles are the top mount, the bottom mount, the side by side and the compact type.

Top mount refrigerators have the freezer at the top while bottom mounts have it at the bottom. Side by side refrigerators and freezers are adjacent to each other. Here are some points to consider as you go through your decision making process.

Side by side refrigerators consume the maximum energy. The freezer on top option is more energy efficient than the freezer at the bottom option.

The freezer at the bottom option is suitable for those who do not use their freezer regularly.

Then there are the compact refrigerators that fit nicely into small apartments.

Whatever type you choose, you can get one that looks sleek and stylish. You must ensure that the refrigerator can be easily accommodated in the space you have set aside for it.

I hope it goes without saying that your refrigerator must carry a good warranty.

Trends in Refrigerators

These days, built in refrigerators are in fashion. While remodeling the kitchen, the designer opts for custom door panels that make the refrigerator look like it is part of the cabinetry. Among refrigerator models, the side-by-side option is considered quite trendy. These even come with wood panels so that it can match the kitchen cabinets.

Features available in the side-by-side model include the custom fronts and the ice dispenser. These are preferred as they look slimmer and seem to take up less space than the over and under models. Best of all, accessibility is easier as you don’t need to stoop to reach the freezer or refrigerator in the side-by-side models.

Ideas to think of when choosing your next refrigerator

When you decide on the right refrigerator, you might want to consider the following points:

*The kind of look you are aiming for

*How you use your freezer and refrigerator

*Whether you need a water dispenser

*How wide is the refrigerator section

*Volume of cooking so that you can decide on storage

The side-by-side models come in different interior designs. Models with adjustable shelves are recommended as it gives you flexibility for storage.

There are triple door fridges that have a freezer area, a refrigerator area and a third compartment, which could be a chiller to store fruits and vegetables. These are space-hoggers unless you have enough space to place them.

Refrigerator features include a variety of conveniences like trim kits that let your fridge blend into your kitchen, a variety of finishes and colors, adjustable shelves and boxes, a quick freezing compartment, the ice and water dispensers, door lock facility, a detachable egg rack, separators for organizing, humidity and temperature control, a smooth back, an alarm that tells you the fridge door has been open too long etc.

Custom fronts can be chosen if you want your refrigerator to blend into your cabinetry. The side-by-side models can look stylish and fashionable. The downside is the shelves appear narrower than the over and under models.

In addition, the water dispenser on the door of the fridge will occupy space inside the unit, which you could actually use for food storage. But there are manufacturers like Whirlpool who have made these dispensers a lot slimmer solving the space problem. Side-by-sides are also more expensive than the over and under models.

Refrigerator Manufactures

Whirlpool, GE, Electrolux, LG Electronics,  Samsung  and Frigidaire are just some of the reputed manufacturers in the market for refrigerators.

As mentioned before, different people opt for different designs and features and the manufacturers listed here are all respected across the world for their quality products and service. Cost varies widely depending on which type you choose. Nevertheless, you can get exactly what you want when you know the options available.

 

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The Microwave Oven – A Wise Kitchen Appliance

It is hard to find a well-equipped kitchen without a microwave oven. A luxury not so long ago, today microwaves are not only affordable but also easy to use. For busy people with too much to do and too little time, the microwave is a blessing that is taken for granted and makes sure that they can grab a quick meal that is not only hot but also tasty. Most of all, they save a lot of time, while being energy efficient at the same time.

How microwaves work

We won’t go into the boring technical details – but here is how a microwave works. It uses microwaves or radio waves at a frequency of 2.5 gigahertz to heat the food. These waves enter the oven cavity through an opening in a straight line. The turntable in the oven rotates the food to cook it evenly.

These radio waves get absorbed by water, fats and sugars and converted into heat. By the way, plastics, glass and ceramic material do not absorb this heat. Since metal reflects microwaves, metal utensils are not used in microwave ovens.

Generally, people tend to use the microwave oven for thawing or preheating food. However, there are microwave ovens with plenty of features that let you cook your entire meal quickly and efficiently. Food is cooked from the inside to the outside, so there’s usually no danger of burning. When you cook vegetables in microwaves, the nutrition is retained.

What to look for when you buy a microwave:

Naturally, price is not the main deciding factor. There are other questions to answer like:

How many people you usually cook for – for a large family, you will need an oven that is bigger and more powerful.

Will the microwave oven be your primary cooking source? How large is your cookware and will it fit in the oven? Do you need features like defrost, cook, and keep-warm? Can you accommodate your microwave oven on the counter-top or would you consider a under-cabinet model? Depending on the power wattage of your microwave, cooking time will vary from recipe to recipe.

Features you can expect in a microwave include:

A turntable rotates the food and cooks it evenly. This turntable can be removed for cleaning

-Convection helps to cook tasty baked items and roasts

-Grilling and toasting

-Browning does the job of the broiler in your traditional oven

-Probes and sensors help tell whether the food is fully cooked

-Timer buttons that let you pre-set the time for specific recipes.

Then there are short cut keys, numeric keypads, trays, removable racks and so on. Today’s major brands give you a host of features, innovating by increasing cooking space without increasing size through recessed turntables and locating the controls on the door. But think twice about paying for features you are unlikely to use.

Cost wise, the counter-top models are the least expensive and most commonly opted for. But there are models that can be mounted over your cooking range and this can be advantageous if you are short on space.

There are reliable brands like GE Frigidaire, Kenmore, LG, Panasonic, Sharp, Whirlpool etc in the market – all of which offer a variety of microwave oven models. It is worthwhile to go in for one that matches your specific needs.

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The importance of Kitchen Ventilation

No kitchen can do without ventilation, mainly because it relates to the health of the people in the home and keeping the air fresh and safe to breathe in. While cooking aromas can be exciting, the moisture, grease, heat and smells can settle in, resulting in slate air, mould, toxins and dust, which in turn can create health problems.

Without ventilation, the building’s fabric also could be damaged, weakening it. Better building construction techniques means air tight buildings that make for better energy efficiency. However, this has an undesirable side effect in the form of stale air retention. If someone at home is already suffering from respiratory problems like Asthma, it could get worse with poor ventilation.

Common Kitchen Ventilation Styles:

Kitchen ventilation can be the ductless wall mount type or with ductwork. In range hood fans with ductwork, the area under the hood contains the stale air that is then expelled outdoors through ducts by a fan. The more powerful the unit, the fresher the air. The filters in the system trap grease and other particles so that they do not get into the ductwork. These filters can be cleaned or replaced depending on the type. Some kitchens have re-circulating range hoods mounted to the wall over the cook top. There is no ductwork here. Instead, the air is pulled via a filter and re-circulated back into the room. This is not efficient as this air can contain gases and odors. Filters can be cleaned or replaced periodically.

Yet another kitchen ventilation style is the downdraft system that is part of the range, on the stovetop close to the burners. This works for the island or peninsula type cook tops where it is difficult to install hoods. While cooking, the ventilation system rises to almost a foot above the cooking surface. The fans pull air via a filter into the ductwork that may be installed under the floor or over the cabinets. Stove location is important here, as it will determine the rate at which the ventilation takes place.

There are plenty of hoods in the market that can be concealed under over-stove cabinets. When you need to use them, they can slide out. There are complex systems that combine a wall-mounted microwave over the cooking range. Here the ventilation hoods have venting fans under them and can double up as microwave shelves. The job of the vent is to absorb air and steam; therefore, you must ensure that the hood or canopy is of the same size as the cooking range top. To keep up with your kitchen décor theme, there are decorative and customizable hoods and canopies available in stainless steel, panelling or tile to match your other kitchen elements.

Maintaining Kitchen Ventilation

To keep your kitchen free from the grease and moisture from cooking, the visible surfaces need to be regularly washed to keep clean. Most ventilation systems come with manufacturers’ instructions and some come with an annual maintenance schedule.

If you use your stovetop quite a lot, the steam that rises from your cooking settles on the windows and walls. There is also the risk of poisonous gas build up from your cooking range gas combustion. Thus, a range hood or vent is an absolute must so that stale smelly and moist air is driven out through the ducts, thereby keeping you and your family safe and healthy.

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Some Quick Facts About the Kitchen Oven

Kitchen Oven Basics

Once upon a time, buying an oven was simply a question of deciding between an electric or gas option. But today, the market is full of a variety of models, materials, features and sizes, and the buyer’s choice is limited only by their budget.

Choice of fuels available today is from gas, electric, microwave, steam, fan-forced, programmable ovens, built in, built out, freestanding, branded, local makes – the options can set your mind reeling. You will find not less than fifty to sixty models in any store that sells ovens.

Whether you would like to buy an oven because you are remodelling your kitchen or simply because your old oven needs a rest, you will have an interesting experience checking out all that is available today.

Today’s new style of kitchen oven

There are many types of ovens, giving you the option of selecting from:

Single ovens – suitable where space is restricted, for limited cooking needs.

Double ovens – good where space is no constraint

Combination ovens – featuring double ovens with both microwave oven on top and a traditional or convection oven below.

Microwave ovens – available as both free standing or built in with a range.

Double ovens can be convenient both in terms of capacity and in terms of the facility of a different setting for each oven.

Apart from these, oven types can be based on cleaning method. Of these, there are standard cleaning ovens, self-cleaning ovens and continuous cleaning ovens.

With the standard cleaning type, the cleaning must be done manually, made easier with ovens whose doors or bottoms are detachable.

The self-cleaning ovens have high heating cycles and are lined with porcelain enamel inside for heat resistance. The inside of these ovens can be wiped off.

With continuous cleaning ovens, the walls are treated specially to keep the oven always operating efficiently.

Another aspect of oven style is the heating method. The standard ovens feature one heating element for baking and roasting and one for broiling. The heat emanates from the bottom, rising into the oven to create different temperatures inside. The heat is controlled with a thermostat.

With convection ovens, the heating method is thermal heat. A fan disperses the hot air, helping you cook evenly. Convection ovens are more energy efficient as they cook faster.

Looking to keep up with the new oven trends?

The latest trend in many kitchens is to install a wall oven with a cook top rather than go in for a range. Even if they have a range, they prefer to go in for a wall oven. These wall ovens can be of the convection type or the conventional type and can be easily installed into the wall or in a cabinet, or even under your counter. Wall ovens can be single, double or combinations with microwave type.

People tend to prefer a self-cleaning oven as this is convenient and saves time. The latest models are equipped with touch pads and are easy to operate. The ones that come with the frameless glass doors look sleek with most décors.

Manufacturers are wooing their customers with more features like multiple racks for better use of capacity, detachable doors, timers and clocks, different kinds of lighting, variable temperature settings, etc.

Modern designs

Most ovens can be built in, so you have the flexibility to locate them at the most convenient height for you. However, this depends on your kitchen. If you have a smallish kitchen, you might prefer to look at a freestanding oven that is more portable.

The built-in models are priced higher than the freestanding types since most come with insulation. You would need to decide on the design of your oven by factoring in the cost of installation.

Oven design also depends on fuel used. Would you prefer a gas oven or an electric one? Those that already have gas supply might choose a gas oven.

Manufactures

Haier, Whirlpool, Cadco, Frigidaire, Kitchenaid, Garland, Miele, Thermador, DeLonghi, Bosche, etc. are just some of the reputed manufacturers of electric and gas ovens. All offer a vast range of models to suit all kinds of budgets and needs. Choosing the ideal oven is a matter of understanding your needs and then making the selection.

Ratings of Kitchen Ovens

Going by brand, consumers feel that Maytag and Frigidaire’s single wall oven with convection offer good value for money. GE is also a very reliable brand. Electrolux makes luxury wall ovens. While almost all ovens in the market are good, one of the problems is that some models tend to be discontinued with new ones taking their place.

In terms of reliability, all the well-known brands are of similar quality, although there is a variation in repair rates. Some brands tend to break down sooner than others. If you are getting your kitchen designed by a professional, they might recommend the Thermador brand for its expensive looks.

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Kitchen Appliances

Kitchen Appliances – Make the Right Choice

Can you imagine your kitchen without basic kitchen appliances like a cooking range, refrigerator, a sink and a dishwasher? The dream kitchen would be equipped with energy efficient appliances like cook top, range or wall unit, oven, dishwasher, refrigerator, deep freeze, sink, microwave oven, food processor and mixer.

While planning a kitchen, almost ten per cent of your budget goes towards buying and installing appliances. While making your choice, design, features and performance are important factors. Of course, how they fit in with the décor also matters.

Depending on the kind of kitchen you plan to go for, you might consider going for the classic white or black colour scheme. Today, the trend is with stainless steel for its stylish and sleek look and easy maintenance. There is customized cabinetry that can conceal your dishwasher or refrigerator.

Some appliances can be installed in counter-top height cabinets without disturbing a specially designed décor. So, let’s first take a look at some design tips to bear in mind while planning your kitchen appliances:

Energy Efficiency

As kitchen appliances can consume around 15% of the energy you utilize in your home, you can go for energy efficient refrigerators or microwave ovens that can save you money in the long run. There is quite a huge choice in the market in terms of energy saving designs today so that you can find the one that can not only fit into your décor but also perform well. It is not hard to choose the best quality appliances.

Décor

Naturally you want your kitchen appliances to match your kitchen décor. This can be done through cabinetry designed to resemble them or by adding decorative elements. While planning the location of your appliances, the design elements of the rest of your kitchen must be taken into account.

Design Options

You might decide to go for built in, panelled, standalone professional, or restored antiques. As we said earlier, stainless steel is trendy and fits in with most kitchen decors ranging from the traditional to the contemporary look.

The Stove

Obviously the stove is your most important kitchen appliance because it is here that your food gets cooked. Consider going for a stove that has easy to reach burners and ovens. There are excellent brand names in the market that make user-friendly designs so that elements like knobs and controls are in an easily accessible manner.

Materials

There is more to a kitchen than just good looks – it must also be easy to maintain and clean. Thus, go in for materials that are easy to maintain so that you can keep your kitchen appliances look new, without a pattern of fingerprints or stains marring their beauty.

With these basic things taken care of, now let us shop for the most common kitchen appliances, looking at how you should choose them:

Which Oven or Cooking Range Is Perfect For Your Kitchen?

There are so many shapes, sizes and styles that you might be in quite a dilemma when you are trying to select the one that is right for your kitchen. There is a variety of oven and range options and you must also consider which fuel choice is right for you. Then you must decide whether you want to do about the kitchen ventilation for your new range

Cooking ranges and ovens come with a host of features to make life easier. There are plenty of manufacturer sites online that will help you to make up your mind with their useful comparisons. If you intend going for a separate oven and cook-top, you can install them wherever you want in the kitchen.

Gas cook-tops with temperature controls are popular, while electric cook-tops with touch pad controls are easy to clean. You also have options like magnetic induction, radiation and halogen systems with glass ceramic surfaces. Electric wall ovens are larger than gas ovens while convection models are more expensive, yet more convenient.

Microwave Oven

With microwave ovens counter-tops are most cost effective but you will have to spare space on your counter. There are over the range models and those with pre programmed settings. Some models have a safety sensor to switch off the oven when the food is hot.

Choosing a Refrigerator

Choosing the right refrigerator is critical because it stores your food safely and is a kitchen appliance that runs continuously. Don’t forget the energy-rating label with the lowest kilowatt-hours per year.

You want to look for a refrigerator that is space saving with features like split shelves, adjustable shelves, door compartments, built in ice makers, water filters, etc. Refrigerators with the freezer on top are considered better than those with freezers on the side. You may opt for an expensive built in customizable model or cabinet depth affordable one.

Which Sink Is The Best Option?

When you shop for your sink, you must look at the material options your sink could be made of and also look at water purifiers and garbage disposals because there is more to your sink than just giving you hot or cold water.

The Right Dishwasher

Would you go for a small counter top dishwasher or a sophisticated expensive model? Dishwashers come with a variety of features based on which you can make your choice. Features to look at are the number of spray levels and directions, cycle variations for different utensils, adjustable racks, touch pad controls and sound reduction packages.

Your Food Processor and Mixer

The most common is the 7-cup model but for large families you may think of a 14-cup model. Look for a mini processor for small jobs. Hand mixers are convenient for batters, whipping creams and egg whites. Stand mixers are great for baking bread, cookies and pizza dough.

Getting the right kitchen appliances can make the time you spend in your kitchen fulfilling. Don’t forget to check the finish, warranty options, service offered, installation, delivery charges, and mainly, the cost.

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