Home appliances offer a world of choice and a world of confusion! Here’s how to make the right selection to suit your needs and your budget
What makes us buy one particular manufacturer’s appliance over another’s? Are you a very savvy consumer; are you armed to the eye-teeth with information, or is it a case of buying what takes your fancy? When you buy a product there are many factors that influence your buying decision, including advertising on TV, printed media and home shows, retail showrooms, the Internet and personal recommendations. Of these, a personal recommendation from somebody who you know and trust could be the one that clinches the deal on what you will purchase.
If you have read other articles that I have written you will know I will always encourage you to purchase an energy-efficient product. What is more important than energy-efficiency is how you use your appliances. For example, having the most energy-efficient fridge in the world is not going to work if the fridge door is continually being opened and closed.
Also, it’s important to measure your energy consumption on each appliance you own. There is nothing like knowing how much energy you use, rather than relying on a manufacturer’s anticipated yearly consumption, because there is generally a world of difference.
What type of appliance are you looking to buy? This is generally the best starting point when making your purchasing decision.
The fridge is one item in the home that, irrelevant of energy ratings, if you do not use correctly, will consume a lot of electricity. Things you need to be aware of include not leaving the door of a fridge open for too long; not overfilling the shelves, as this will cause poor circulation and temperature control; and not maintaining it at the correct temperatures required for its contents. If you have more than one fridge in your home — this is not unusual today in many homes — and it is empty, turn it off.
COOKTOP AND OVEN
As someone who loves cooking, having the right tools for the job is important.
There is one requirement for using induction cooktops, and that is your cookware has to be made of cast iron or stainless steel to work. Efficiency aside, your power consumption comes down to not leaving the stove on if there is nothing cooking, something an induction stove prevents by only operating while a saucepan is on the element.
The size of your oven should accommodate your largest cooking dish or meal. This is where price is an indication of quality, as being able to maintain constant temperature for that delicate souffle or sponge is important. Maintaining a constant temperature and reducing energy loss is all down to how well the stove is insulated and the quality of the seals on the oven door.
I have one but it only gets used when we have dinner parties and there is a lot to wash. But I find that you really have to rinse down cookware and crockery before placing it in the dishwasher. No dishwasher, no matter what you pay for it, will clean a knife or fork that has dried egg yolk on it. And leaving the dishwasher for a few days while you fill it might be more efficient, but you probably won’t like the smell. A dishwasher really should be filled to capacity (but not overfilled) before using.
The more efficient design, both in power and water consumption, is front-loading washing machines. Their limitation is that they have a much smaller capacity than top-loaders and if you have a big family a top-loader is more appropriate.
Like dishwashers, the don’ts are washing with half a load, which is not very efficient, and overfilling, which just leads to your clothes not being washed properly.
Most other appliances we buy are mainly used for convenience, but in today’s kitchens the one other essential item I would recommend is an all-purpose food processor, one that has the power to do the job and will not break down in five minutes. I exaggerate, but a piece of equip¬ment that is cheap and underpowered is not the solution to a productive kitchen.
Manufacturers of TVs are becoming more energy-conscious, creating innovative, energy-saving designs. Philips’ 42PFL5603D, also known as the Eco TV, is one such product. It also includes a sensor that constantly adjusts for the brightness of what’s being played.
MEASURING ENERGY CONSUMPTION
As shown in photo 6, you can purchase a device that will measure an appliance’s electricity use and give you an estimated cost of power consumed for a year. This is one area where knowing what the power usage is can determine your usage. It is also going to tell how accurate the labelling is on the appliances you buy.