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CES 2016: New heights in convenience

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For most of us, life isn’t going to get less busy anytime soon. But appliance manufacturers are stepping in to help by giving us appliances that are ready to take on a bigger share of the day’s tasks.

While connectivity and smart appliances are one of the main themes for appliance manufacturers at CES 2016, convenience remains the driving force behind the next generation of home appliances. We’ve already touched on robotic cleaning, remote operation and smart home features. Here are a few more of the innovations AHAM members are displaying at CES 2016:

Recipes at your fingertips: A new generation of refrigerators, stoves and other cooking appliances showcased at CES 2016 will tell you what’s for dinner. They’ll give you instant access to recipes, and even make meal recommendations based on the ingredients you have on hand.

They’ll do the thinking: A new generation of washers and dryers could largely eliminate the guesswork that sometimes goes with choosing a wash cycle. Just tell them what kind of clothes you’re washing, and they’ll automatically select the most appropriate cycle.

Faster action on repairs: Smart and connected appliances could cut down on the time it takes to make repairs. In the future, repair technicians—with the user’s permission—could keep tabs remotely on how appliances are functioning, and let the users know when something is wrong. Some of the problems could be corrected without a visit from a technician, but if not, connectivity could also streamline the scheduling process.

Smarter space: It’s not all about connectivity at CES. Along with the new electronic features, manufacturers are also touting increased capacity of washers and dryers, as well as refrigerators with strategically placed compartments and space-saving features like retractable shelves.

Follow AHAM on Twitter @AHAM_Voice for more on innovation, energy savings and the latest news from AHAM.

Appliance manufacturers pile on the innovations at CES 2016

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AHAM member companies are rolling out a new wave of connected appliances at CES 2016, and it’s clear that the new and cutting-edge appliance features could help consumers maximize convenience and take back more of their own time:

Here’s a brief look at the some of the innovative home appliances on display:

The end of fridge magnets? A new generation of connected refrigerators feature multi-function digital touch screens that could turn the refrigerator into the home’s top gathering spot, where family members come not just to eat and talk with family, but for entertainment and news about the day. A number of models on display allow you to display schedules, notes, and photos. And don’t forget about the food inside. Some feature cameras to let you see what the fridge is holding, without opening the door. Other features allow you to mark expiration dates, keep a shopping list, order groceries, and play video and music.

Welcome home: The buyers of new homes want the latest appliances to be a part of their homes from the day they move in. Mock-ups of smart homes and rooms being showcased at CES 2016 include connected refrigerators, induction stoves, washers, dryers and other appliances, with central controls. Some are even operated by voice command.

Chores, on your schedule: Have a last-minute schedule change and don’t want your clothes to sit around, getting wrinkled? A number of clothes dryers at CES 2016 can be operated remotely, so you can align your arrival home with the end of a cycle. Manufacturers are using connectivity to improve dryer safety as well. Some models will send alerts when it looks like your dryer vent is becoming clogged, which could reduce the risk of fire.

Tasks on autopilot: While robots have handled their share of the vacuuming for a number of years, a new generation are taking automated floor cleaning to the next level. New models include cameras to allow you to check up on their work, and others map the rooms in the house and accept precise direction on areas that need to be cleaned.

CES 2016 runs through Saturday. Follow us on Twitter @AHAM_Voice for more on the hottest home appliance innovations!

AHAM Members at CES 2016

AHAM members will be out in force to reveal their latest innovations at CES 2016 this week in Las Vegas. Connected and smart appliances will have a prominent place in this year’s show, and AHAM staff will be on hand, visiting with members and highlighting the latest trends.

A day before the official opening of the show, appliances are already grabbing media attention. Major appliances drawing some of the early buzz include are refrigerators that send shopping lists straight to your phone, washers and dryers that can order more detergent when supplies run low, and ovens that can be controlled via smartphone. We’re also hearing about innovations in the portable and floor care spaces, including a robotic vacuum that allows the owner to check on its work via video.

Throughout January, AHAM will be focusing on the growing trend of connected appliances and the potential it has to introduce consumers to new levels of convenience and efficiency.

Want to keep up on the action at CES 2016? Follow AHAM on twitter @AHAM_voice for ongoing updates from the CES exhibit hall.

Food Waste Disposers – The Unsung Hero of Appliances

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Many home appliances are under-appreciated by their owners. Food waste disposers are near the top of the “out of sight, out of mind?? list of appliances. But their usefulness goes beyond convenience, and they’re helping the environment every day.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the work these appliances do for the environment.

Food waste disposers may be the first line of defense we have against the more than 30 million tons of food waste that ends up in landfills each year. That food waste, which makes up about 18 percent of the waste in US landfills, produces greenhouse gasses that can harm the environment. The USDA estimates that about 133 billion pounds of food is wasted in the US each year, or just over 30 percent of the total food supply. 250 million tons of trash were generated. 31.79 million tons (12.7%) of this was food waste. Only 2.5% of THAT (0.3% of total waste) was then recovered and turned into helpful environmental components. The amount of waste in 2008 had more than doubled from the 1960 figure of 12.2 million tons per year, and it has increased more since 2008.

The good news is that a food waste disposer can make sure those scraps don’t go to waste in a landfill. Here’s how:

  1. When food is scrapped, it goes to a wastewater treatment facility. This means it is not going to a landfill, and it is not contributing to greenhouse gas emissions that landfills produce.
  2. The food waste is fed to microscopic organisms that are used to treat wastewater.
  3. While these microscopic organisms digest the food waste, they produce methane gas, which the treatment facility can capture and use as a renewable source of energy to power their facility.
  4. Any residuals after the treatment process is complete will be turned into fertilizer or conditioner for soil used in agriculture.

A process has been created that uses every bit of the waste and turns it into a benefit, making the savings exponential compared to sending the waste to a landfill.

Do your part and use your food waste disposer! But follow these quick dos and don’ts:

Do…

  • Use cold water when using a disposer. Using hot water wastes energy.
  • Run water down the drain for several seconds after grinding is complete to flush waste and keep debris from settling in the plumbing system.
  • Save and grind used lemons and other citrus fruit peels to freshen up and disinfect your disposer, naturally.

Don’t…

  • Pour oils or grease down the drain! They can clog and damage the sewer system. Instead, collect fats in a container. Then, throw the container in the trash.
  • Try to grind large amounts of food waste at one time.

This information is curated by InSinkErator, and supported by AHAM and its members. Have your own recommendations for additional savings? Please comment below!

5 Reasons for Returning Appliances and How You Can Do Better Research Before You Buy

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With the holiday season upon us, shoppers are doing their research and looking to take advantage of deals on home appliances. Across the board, from floor care to personal care, retailers and manufacturers are planning to deliver you innovative and energy efficient products this holiday season.

And while the majority of consumers who buy appliances get what they’re looking for, some will return them, even if they’re working.  AHAM, along with Bellomy Research, recently conducted an extensive study on why consumers return small appliances that are in good working condition. Here are the top five reasons:

  • Appliance did not perform the way the customer expected
  • The appliance was smaller than the customer expected
  • Appliance was a gift the recipient did not like or want
  • Second thoughts about the color, style or model
  • The customer found another model they liked better

Overall, though, there was one underlying theme behind why consumers return products: they did not have a clear understanding of what they were purchasing before the purchase.

So what can shoppers to do avoid post-holiday returns? While AHAM’s research suggested improvements manufacturers and retailers could make to reduce return rates, it’s up to the customer to do their own homework—and they know it. Our study found that “some customers also feel they should have completed more research before purchasing, or wished for an easier set-up process.??

Then what can you, as the consumer, do? Here are AHAM’s tips:

  1. Go “hands on”: Product demonstrations are commonplace at many retailers now, allowing you to visualize and use the product before purchasing. This can eliminate confusion about issues such as size, performance, and quality.
  2. Read and watch online reviews: There are limitless resources online for consumers to learn about a product, and potential features that affect decision-making. Videos are both abundant and valuable because they allow you to see the actual product being used.
  3. Research the product through the manufacturer’s website and owner’s manual: Appliance makers strive to be clear about the features and benefits their products offer. Whether online or on paper, they provide extensive resources that allow the everyday consumer to understand what they are buying before a purchase decision is made.
  4. Contact the manufacturer directly: This is perhaps the most important tip, but many shoppers don’t realize it’s an option. Only 40 percent of people surveyed said they had spoken with the product’s manufacturer before returning an item. Most manufacturers have resources to answer your questions and resolve almost any issues before a return becomes necessary.

Do you have any tips you feel should be added to this list? Please share them with us in the comments.

Follow us on Twitter – @AHAM_Voice for more updates, tips, and data trends from the home appliance industry!

Stay Safe and Warm This Winter with These Portable Heater Safety Tips

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Temperatures are dropping around the U.S., which means many Americans will rely on warmth from portable electric heaters. These portable heat sources are a great way to keep warm through colder months, as long as they are properly used.

According to data released in November 2013 by the National Fire Protection Association, from 2007-2011 there were more than 3,300 fires as a result of portable space heaters. “Most fires are preventable by following the simple and important safety tips offered by AHAM, such giving portable heaters at least three feet of space on all sides,?? offered Lt. Anthony Mancuso, Director of the FDNY’s Fire Safety Education Unit.  Portable electric heaters should be used according to the manufacturers’ instructions so that injuries can be avoided.

AHAM urges consumers to follow these simple and important safety tips when using portable electric heaters:

  1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels before using your portable electric heater.
  2. Do not leave an operating heater unattended and always unplug heater when not in use.
  3. Do not use your heater with a power strip or extension cord.  Overheating of a power strip or extension cord could result in a fire.
  4. String out cords on top of area rugs or carpeting. Placing any¬thing, including furniture, on top of the cord may damage it.

More tips, and a safety podcast with Lt. Mancuso, are available on heatersafety.org.  Also, you may order AHAM’s free “Stay Safe! Top Tips for using your Electric Heater Safely!?? brochure in English and Spanish by sending a request to info@aham.org.  Find more safety tips from the New York City Fire Department at www.fdnysmart.org.

Stay warm, be smart and stay safe while enjoying your portable electric heater!

Tips for Managing your Child’s Allergies

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If your child is one of the millions that suffer from allergies in the U.S., you know that it can be hard to control their symptoms.  Reducing contact with airborne allergens like dust and pollen can help prevent the onset of symptoms in children.

Here are a few steps you can take around the house that may help your child breathe easier:

  • Keep windows closed in the car and at home and limit outdoor activities, especially when the pollen count is high.
  • Give them a bath or shower before bed to help remove the allergens that may have collected on them or their clothes throughout the day.
  • Vacuum the carpet and floors throughout the home on a regular basis and consider using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Dust mites tend to live on the floor, bedding and furniture, so you should wash your child’s bedding frequently in hot water.  You can also use dust mite allergen covers on bedding.  It is also helpful to minimize the amount of extra pillows and stuffed animals that are kept on the bed, since they also collect dust mites.
  • Do not hang laundry outside to dry where it may collect pollen and other allergens.  Use a dryer or hang the clothes inside instead.
  • Use a portable room air cleaner in your child’s bedroom to filter airborne particles and help them breathe—and sleep—easier.  A portable room air cleaner that’s received a Clean Air Delivery Rate seal may reduce the level of airborne pollutants.

Search for AHAM Verifide air cleaners in the online directory found on www.AHAMVerifide.org where you can compare models. Search by room size to find the models that are most appropriate for your child’s bedroom.  Look at the CADR ratings for tobacco smoke, dust and pollen and find the models that have the highest ratings since they will clean your room the fastest.  You can then weigh the importance of product features, such as design and wifi connectivity, to find an air cleaner that fits your needs.

Put Safety First When Purchasing Second-Hand Appliances

We all like to find good deals, and you may be on to finding some great ones this Labor Day weekend.  But, put safety first if you are considering a second hand appliance.   AHAM urges consumers to consider the following tips before purchasing a second-hand portable appliance:

  1. Ask the age and working condition of the appliance you want to purchase.
  2. Check for frayed or damaged power cords, switches and parts.
  3. Inspect for tampering and inquire about any repairs performed on the appliance.
  4. Make sure all parts, including the owner’s operating manual, is included with the product. The owner’s manual provides important performance and safety tips.
  5. Has the appliance been the subject of a safety recall? Recall notices are available from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Remember to check back through the life of the appliance for recall notices.

If you’re in doubt, purchase a new appliance instead! You could be getting mush more than you bargained for if you aren’t careful.    And, those selling a second-hand product should use these guidelines too, to determine if the unit should be sold or simply discarded.

Stainless Steel Continues to Grow in Popularity

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If you’ve been shopping for appliances lately, seen a home improvement program or browsed a design magazine, you’ve probably noticed a lot of appliances with stainless steel finishes. There’s a simple explanation for that: it’s become the most popular finish for the “core?? kitchen appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers and ranges). Ten years ago only 20% of core appliances had stainless steel finish but by 2014 that number had grown to 49%! Stainless is also a popular finish for vent hoods, microwaves and even portable appliances such as coffeemakers and toasters.

What used to be a finish reserved for mostly higher-end models now extends to more budget-conscious  models. Many consumers are attracted to the finish’s sleek, contemporary appearance, especially those of us who grew up in a time when every kitchen we stepped into had appliances that were white, beige or even avocado green or harvest gold!

For someone who is thinking about redesigning their kitchen or simply replacing their existing appliances, the appliance’s finish is one of the top concerns. Some questions to consider include “How will stainless steel integrate with my current or new cabinets???, “How can I avoid having a cold, industrial look in my kitchen??? and “How easy is stainless steel to keep clean??? AHAM has assembled a few resources to help you. HGTV has some suggestions from designers on how consumers can take advantage of the benefits of stainless steel and other materials:

You can soften the cold shine of stainless with granite and ceramic, says Karen Sciascia, designer for A Matter of Style in Cheshire, Conn. In a traditional or contemporary kitchen design, Karen favors cream-colored granite counters to offset the cold shine of stainless appliances. “The mica in the stone really picks up the soft gray color in the stainless,” she says.

Read the complete article here. SFGate also has some tips on what colors blend well with stainless. Finally, Bob Villa tells you how to keep those new stainless steel appliances looking like they just came out of the showroom.

Save Money and Help the Environment with these Energy Saving Tips

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Everyone would like to use less energy and reduce their monthly electricity bill. AHAM has assembled some quick and easy tips to help you reduce the amount of energy your appliances use. Every bit adds up.

  • If you are replacing your refrigerator, do not use the old refrigerator as a second refrigerator because it won’t yield energy savings. Properly recycle the appliance. The store where you purchased the new refrigerator likely will pick up and dispose of your old one for no charge.  You can also visit the ENERGY STAR website for information about their Responsible Appliance Disposal program.
  • 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 the no-heat air dry feature.
  • Use the proper load size setting for each load of laundry or use the automatic setting if your clothes washer has it to ensure you’re not using more water than necessary. Also, 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.

How do you save energy at home?  If you have energy saving tips, share them with us!