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11 tips for buying the right major appliance

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Are you getting ready to buy a major appliance, like a refrigerator, washer, dryer, oven, dishwasher or room air conditioner? It’s a big decision that likely will play a role in your day-to-day life and routine for years to come. It’s essential that you do the necessary research to find the appliance you need. Here are 11 tips to make sure your next major appliance fits the bill:

• Get the specs. Ask your dealer for specification sheets from several manufacturers who build the type of appliance or appliances you plan to purchase. Compare available features, designs and capacities.

• Know what you need, and what you might need later. Decide which features you will really use, and what you might need down the line. Some appliances may include the options of adding features later, like installing an icemaker in a refrigerator.

• What’s your price range? Compare prices in relation to what the appliance offers, which will vary by model. Price tends to increase as features are added.

• Decide on the size. How much clothing needs to fit in your new washer? Will the refrigerator hold enough food? Is the room air conditioner powerful enough to cool the room? Know what size and strength you’ll need so you can select a model with sufficient capacity.

• Consider the care. Ask your dealer for the appliance’s use and care manual and read it carefully before you buy the appliance. The manuals for the floor models should be available. Reading the manual will give you a better idea of how the appliance tell you about any special care it needs.

• Will it fit? Check the space available for the appliance to make sure your new appliance will fit, and make sure halls and doorways allow clearance for entry and installation.

• How is it getting there? Ask the dealer about the cost of delivery and installation. Are they included in the price?

• Find the fix. Make sure authorized factory service is available in your area for the brand you select.

• How does it fit your routine? Check the product’s design carefully to make sure it meets your needs and accommodates your habits and favorite cookware.

• Check the power. Avoid overloaded circuits by making sure your house has adequate electrical service for the appliance. Check for adequately grounded, three-hole receptacles.

• Do a little light reading. Read the warranty before finalizing your decision. Does the warranty cover the entire product? Only certain parts? Is labor included? How long does the warranty last?

The number of options you’ll have may seem overwhelming, but following these tips will help you find the appliance you need. Good luck in your search!

How appliances save water every day

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Two hundred and seventy billion gallons of water. It’s enough to fill 40 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. It’s also how much water would be saved if every home in the U.S. installed a new model dishwasher.

What are you doing to save water? It’s a great question to ask yourself on World Water Day, March 22 which the United Nations established in 1992 to shine a spotlight on conservation, sustainability and other water-related issues. Odds are your dishwasher and clothes washer are already helping you save serious amounts of water. Both are helping consumers cut back on their water use. Here’s how:

  • Washers are doing more with less. Clothes washers purchased today hold 20 percent more laundry than they did in 2000, yet they use even less water. The maximum water consumption per cycle for all types of washers (both front- and top-load) fell 35 percent between 2005 and 2014, from 35.7 gallons in 2005 to 21.6 gallons. The minimum water use per cycle also fell significantly during the same period, from 20.2 gallons to 12.2 gallons—a 39 percent drop.
  • Dishwashers are running near the minimum. The average amount of water used in a normal dishwashing cycle is down more than 41 percent since 2005. A new ENERGY STAR-certified dishwasher can save an average of 1,600 gallons of water a year compared to 1994 models.
  • Less water + greater efficiency = lower bills. Even clothes washers of average efficiency can save your household more than 5,000 gallons of water a year and more than $150 in utility costs compared to the washers of a decade ago.

New appliances are just one of the steps you can take to cut back on your water use.  Here are a few more water-saving tips from the EPA:

  • Check for and repair any leaks in appliances, toilets, and other water-using devices in your home.
  • Don’t rinse the dishes. There’s no need to rinse your dishes in the sink before putting them into the dishwasher. Scrape them, and let the dishwasher do the rest.
  • Do full loads of laundry, or select the appropriate water level for the size of the load you’re washing.
  • Don’t use water to defrost. Instead, thaw frozen foods overnight in a refrigerator.
  • Keep cool wat

Give the air in your home a spring cleaning

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With memories of massive snowfalls still fresh in the minds of many, it’s easy to forget that spring allergy season is just about here. When the first sniffles of spring strike, allergy sufferers may be tempted to hole up and avoid the outdoors. But the air inside may be just as bad or even worse, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA estimates that indoor air may contain double to five times as many pollutants as the air outside.

There are four main sources of indoor air pollution: pollen tracked in or blown in from outside; animal dander; mold and mildew; and tobacco smoke. All can make your allergies worse. But there are some steps you can take to fight back, and your appliances can help you get the upper hand on allergens:

Invest in a room air cleaner: If you decide to buy a room air cleaner, look on the packaging for the AHAM Verifide Label, which will list Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) numbers for tobacco smoke, dust and pollen. The higher the numbers, the faster the air cleaner will clean the air. Buy a room air cleaner appropriate for the size of the room in which it will be used.

Suck it up: Your vacuum is one of your best tools in the quest to rid your home of allergens. Vacuum your carpet and rugs at least once a week, and twice a week in high-traffic areas. Vacuum your upholstered furniture, mattresses and drapes regularly. Consider doing a deep clean with solutions made to loosen and extract allergens.

Wash it away: Wash your bedding in hot water—at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit—to remove allergens from sheets and blankets and the kids’ stuffed animals.

Learn more about how AHAM’s Clean Air Delivery Rate program for room air cleaners, and how you can find AHAM Verifide Products.

An introduction to connected home appliances

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Do you have enough hours in the day? Most busy people probably wish they had a few more. Connected appliances, while they can’t make a day longer, CAN help you recapture more of your own time. One recent study estimated that connected appliances could save a typical household 100 hours a year.

The time savings from connected appliances could come from a number of places, including an easier process, automated tasks, and remote operation. Here’s a sampling of how connected appliances make your life easier, taken from AHAM’s new white paper, Home Appliance Connectivity: Limitless Potential:

Peace of mind: If you’ll be away from home for a while, connectivity can allow you to make sure your appliances stay in working order while you’re gone. Connected appliances can also help you keep tabs on older or ill family members or friends who are under your care.

Repairs made easy: Connectivity could revolutionize appliance repairs and make long waits for a repair technician a thing of the past. Manufacturers are already developing features that will allow repair technicians to remotely identify problems and, in some cases, repair them without even visiting your home.

Simplified process: A connected dishwasher could “learn” when you typically wash dishes, and be set up to begin the process automatically when appropriate. Clothes washers could give you advice on how to wash a certain type of garment, saving you the time of doing research. That’s one less thing you have to worry about.

Lower energy costs: Connected appliances have the potential to work with the Smart Grid to drive energy cost savings and improve the environment. They could automatically reduce energy use based on the user’s preference, or allow users to access renewable energy when it’s available.

Want to know more? Download Home Appliance Connectivity: Limitless Potential, for an introduction to the possibilities connected home appliances have to simplify your life, as well as what manufacturers are doing to keep connected appliances safe and secure.

Here’s what’s hot in the world of major appliances

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Source: Houzz

While connectivity seems poised to become a widespread feature in home appliances, consumers are still looking for convenience and style first when it comes to their kitchens. And top-load washers are making a major comeback. Here’s a look at the trends we’re seeing in major appliance shipments:

  • Induction cooking goes mainstream: Since 2010, the percentage of surface units shipped that include at least one induction unit has doubled. Five years ago, only 8% of electric surface cooking units shipped included at least one induction element. By last year, the number had grown to 16% of units shipped. This is one example of a commercial kitchen trend that has made its way into homes as well.
  • More doors, please: Consumers are looking for more refrigerator and freezer space. AHAM has seen a steady increase in bottom-mount refrigerators with four or more doors since 2011, the year we began tracking those shipments. Last year, 17% of refrigerators shipped in the third quarter had four or more doors, up from 11% four years earlier. Bottom-mount refrigerators with two doors made up just 13% of shipments in 2015, down from 35% in 2008.
  • Back on top: After several years of lower shipment numbers, top-load washers are seeing a resurgence in popularity. They accounted for 76% of units shipped last year, up from 62% in 2009, according to AHAM data. But it’s different this time around, as a lot of the growth is due to a growing preference for top-load washers without agitators. They made up about 48% of top-loading units shipped in 2015, compared to 27% in 2011. This is a prime example of innovation, as this product has grown more efficient, and offers the consumer multiple configurations and options.
  • It’s a “steel”: We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of dishwashers and side-by-side refrigerators with a stainless steel finish. Side-by-side refrigerators with a stainless steel finish made up 60% of units shipped at the end of the third quarter in 2015, up from 29% in 2006. More than half of dishwashers—56%—shipped last year had a stainless steel finish, a trend that has been on a steady upward climb since 2007.

What styles and features are you looking for in your next major appliances? Leave a comment below.

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!