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Worrying about Fall Allergies?

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Think it’s too early to begin worrying about fall allergy season? Think again! According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology  (ACAAI), fall allergies can be especially bothersome to those who are allergic to pollen and ragweed. In particular, ACAAI states that hay fever and autumn leaves can trigger allergic reactions. They note:

Hay Fever – Hay fever, a term from a bygone era, actually has nothing to do with hay. Instead,  it’s a general term used to describe the symptoms of late summer allergies. Ragweed is a common cause of hay fever, which is also known as allergic rhinitis. The plant usually begins to pollenate in mid-August and may continue to be a problem until a hard freeze, depending on where you live.

Pesky Leaves – Some folks might find it difficult to keep up with raking leaves throughout the autumn. But for allergy sufferers, raking presents its own problem. It can stir agitating pollen and mold into the air, causing allergy and asthma symptoms.

One of the best methods of combating allergies is to purchase an AHAM Verifide® portable room air cleaner. Room air cleaners that are certified through AHAM’s Certification Program have been certified and verified by an independent laboratory, assuring consumers that the product will perform according to the manufacturer’s product claims for suggested room size and the reduction of three common household particulates: tobacco smoke, dust and pollen, commonly referred to as the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR).

Tips to Consider when Buying your Next Vacuum

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Canister or upright? With a bag or without? These are just a few of the questions you might have when trying to decide which vacuum to buy. Finding the right one can be more difficult than you think, especially if have pets, have limited storage space or have to carry the vacuum up a flight of stairs. If you’ve shopped online or in the store then you probably know that vacuums come in a variety of styles to fit every budget – just like cars.

AHAM has assembled some buying tips courtesy of HuffPost Home:

  • Keep in mind what you’ll use your vacuum cleaner for the most: “The toughest job for a vacuum is deep-cleaning carpets, which is what our research says is the number-one job people want in their vacuum. Equally important is being lightweight enough that it’s not hard to push, pull, lift and generally maneuver. Third is durability,” says Consumer Reports Senior Home & Yard Editor, Ed Perratore.
  • DO: Buy a vacuum that works with your lifestyle. “We test for pet-hair pickup and find that some models do very well at getting up what their pet sheds without the hair wrapping around the brush. Neither uprights nor canisters have the edge there. For apartment dwellers, the size of the unit matters a lot. If you have lots of carpets, we recommend bagged uprights since they tend to have the best airflow and suction. If you don’t want to lug around an upright and also maybe vacuum stairs a lot, consider a canister. And for general pickup of spilled dry items and dust, many people also have hand, stick and even robotic vacs–though you can’t count on them for deep-cleaning.”
  • DON’T: Forget that it’s all about HOW you use the vacuum. “There are a few ways to vacuum “wrong.” Never vacuum water or even a wet floor; use a wet/dry vac instead. Change your bag or empty your bin promptly; it affects available airflow. Ditto for the filters; inspect them every couple of months. If you vacuum up something big like a sock, turn the vacuum off right away–besides blocking airflow, you could break the belt, which is there to protect the motor. And if you vacuum a bare floor like wood or laminate and don’t turn off the brush (or don’t have a brush on/off switch), you’ll wear away that floor’s finish over time.”

View the complete article here.

Also, GoodHousekeeping.com has advice on keeping your vacuum running smoothly for years to come. Here are a few of them:

  • What’s the difference between a canister and an upright vacuum?
    A canister vacuum is generally more versatile. Like uprights, canisters handle carpets, but they’re also great at cleaning bare floors, vacuuming stairs and sucking up dirt from corners.
  • Which is better — a vacuum with a bag or a bagless vacuum?
    Neither is better. The Good Housekeeping Institute tests show that both clean equally well. Which you buy depends on personal preference. Bagless cleaners save you the trouble of having to buy extra bags, but they can be messy to empty, and the filters and dust containers must be kept clean. While vacuums with bags keep dust and dirt contained, they are tricky to retrieve an earring or small object that gets sucked up accidentally.
  • Do more amps mean better cleaning?
    If you’re tempted to buy a model with the highest amps, horsepower or watts, you might want to think again. These numbers are simply measurements of the electrical current used by the motor. A vacuum cleaner’s performance depends on airflow, the amount of suction it produces, and other factors including the overall design and attachments.

You can find more Good Housekeeping tips here.

What is induction?

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If you’ve shopped for a new range or cooktop recently, you may have seen some are induction. Although induction has been around for quite a while, it’s only recently started to catch on as home chefs look for an alternative to electric burners. In fact, 15 percent of electric cooktops shipped last year included an induction burner! This is a three percent increase from 2013.

So what is induction and how does it work? An induction burner looks very much like an electric smoothtop burner and is heated using an electromagnetic field whereas a conventional electric burner uses radiant heat. Unlike cooking with a conventional electric burner, induction burners only transfer heat to magnetized pans so you could place a chocolate bar directly on an induction burner without it melting! Therefore, you’ll need to make sure your cookware is induction-capable and you can do this by simply holding a magnet to the underside of the pan or pot. Additionally, induction is also highly energy efficient since heat is only transferred directly to the pan

If induction has piqued your interest, you can learn more  through any manufacturer’s website or, CNET’s website has additional information behind the science of induction. Lastly, several years ago The New York Times published a detailed article about the pros and cons of induction.

Need a New Room Air Conditioner? Check Out These Tips Before You Buy!

As the summer heat bakes much of the U.S., you might find yourself in need of replacing that old (and probably less efficient) room air conditioner. Before going out to the local home improvement store, you should check out the directory of AHAM Verifide® room air conditioners.  Room air conditioners carrying the AHAM Verifide mark have been independently-tested to perform to manufacturer’s claims for cooling capacity (measured in BTUs per hour), Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) and electrical energy in Amps. Additionally, for units carrying the ENERGY STAR designation, AHAM’s energy verification of the unit ensures that the product meets ENERGY STAR criteria.

ENERGY STAR’s website has some great tips for purchasing room air conditioners:
•    Consider a unit with controls. Controls such as a digital readout for the thermostat setting, and a built-in timer help you adjust your unit to use less energy.
•    Check the yellow EnergyGuide label. This label helps you determine how much energy it takes to operate the model, compare the energy use of similar models, and estimate annual operating costs
•    Look for a unit whose filter slides out easily for regular cleaning. Clean filters help keep your unit in good working condition.
•    Select the unit with the highest Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for greater savings. The EER is the cooling capacity in BTUs divided by the watts.

And when you do buy that new room air conditioner, here are some tips courtesy of the U.S. Dept. of Energy to keep it running smoothly for years to come:
•    The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters.
•    Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.
•    Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty if the outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting on its fins.
•    At the start of each cooling season, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to ensure it makes contact with the unit’s metal case. Moisture can damage this seal, allowing cool air to escape from your house.
•    In the winter, either cover your room air conditioner or remove and store it. Covering the outdoor unit of a central air conditioner will protect the unit from winter weather and debris.

Rewarding Refrigerator Recycling in Utah

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Do you know that on average, approximately 90 percent of major household appliances (by weight) are recycled each year?

Additionally, according to the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), the typical appliance contains 60 percent steel which can be recycled rather than being sent to a landfill.  Recycling has even more environmental benefits, too.   According to SRI, in a year, the steel industry saves the equivalent energy to electrically power about 18 million households for that same amount of time.  Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) and Utah Food Bank have joined forces to combine recycling, energy efficiency and meals for the hungry, according to a recent article in the Deseret News.  For over a decade RMP has been offering its customers $30 if they recycle their old, inefficient refrigerators.  Now RMP customers will have the option to automatically donate that $30 to Utah Food Bank, which distributes meals to food pantries, churches and soup kitchens throughout Utah.   Since the program was implemented in 2003, over 10,000 refrigerators have been recycled in Utah – saving the utility’s customers $150 annually on average, according to RMP.  Thanks to the program, Utah Food Bank estimates it helps provide 2,000 meals a week to families in need!

While your local utility may not offer a program exactly like RMP’s, you can still help the environment by purchasing a new refrigerator and reducing your electricity usage.  According to AHAM’s 2013 Trends in Energy Efficiency, on average, a refrigerator manufactured in 2013 consumes 52% less electricity than one manufactured in 1991 – and it’s 6% larger, too!

If you’re interested in cutting your energy bill by purchasing a new refrigerator, visit www.coolsavings.com to learn more about the latest energy efficiency guidelines for refrigerators, and how to use the updated yellow ENERGY GUIDE labels.  Meanwhile, SRI’s website can help you find the recycling location nearest you.

Beat the Heat with a New AHAM Verifide Room Air Conditioner

It’s that time of the year when many consumers find themselves in the market for a new room air conditioner.  Upon walking into a store to purchase one, one of the first things a consumer may notice is the AHAM Verifide label on the product’s box.  Room air conditioners carrying the AHAM Verifide mark have been tested by an independent laboratory to verify that the unit will perform according to manufacturers’ claims for cooling capacity in British Thermal Units (BTUs), Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) and electrical energy in Amps.  Additionally, those models carrying the ENERGY STAR logo have been rated as being 10 percent more efficient than non-ENERGY STAR-qualified room air conditioners.

Ralph Hudnall, AHAM’s Director of Product Certification and Verification, explains that the independent laboratory’s testing conducted on room air conditions are designed to be as close to the consumer’s use as possible, and each model tested undergoes the exact same test to ensure uniformity.

Ralph explains, “At the lab, there are two adjoining rooms with one room configured as though it’s outdoors (hotter) and the inside room is the room that is to be cooled. Various sensors are set up to make sure the environmental conditions are correct and each unit is operated for 24 hours.?? Upon completion of the tests, the results are verified against the manufacturer’s claim and, if approved, the unit is given the AHAM Verifide seal.

More information about selecting an AHAM Verifide room air conditioner can be found here, and additional information about ENERGY STAR can be found here. This Old House’s website has some tips for choosing the right room air conditioner.

Energy Department and AHAM Join Forces on ENERGY STAR Testing for Appliances

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The U.S.
Department of Energy
(DOE) announced today in
a blog posting
that it recognizes AHAM
as an ENERGY STAR
certification body for clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators,
refrigerator/freezers and freezers.

EPA states: “This agreement is a
reflection of DOE's and AHAM's extensive and long-standing collaborative work
together on verification and represent the kind of creative, public-private
partnership that benefits industry, consumers, and government alike.??

Prior to the agreement, AHAM and
EPA conducted separate appliance verification programs.  Working together, AHAM and DOE can conserve
taxpayer dollars and eliminate duplicative testing.  Consumers can purchase AHAM Verifide appliances knowing that the federal
testing procedures for measuring an appliance’s energy consumption are trusted
and were developed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

EPA also stated in their post:

“As an EPA-approved certification body, AHAM
will administer verification testing for the  ENERGY
STAR program, which includes verifying data and reporting on specifications.
AHAM will continue to follow a
series of stringent testing requirements, holding appliances that are potentially eligible for ENERGY STAR
certification to the highest of standards, helping to ensure that these appliances deliver
significant savings for energy efficiency and quality performance. In addition, AHAM will identify instances of
potential noncompliance with ENERGY STAR requirements
and federal energy conservation standards. AHAM will notify relevant government stakeholders, including
the Energy Department, if an appliance is noncompliant with any program requirement, so that the
appropriate agency can rectify any issues with compliance."

Click
here
to read the rest of the blog post.   Last year, more than 15 million appliances
were shipped with the AHAM Verifide mark.   
To search for appliances that have earned the mark, click here.

AHAM President Joe McGuire Discusses New Clothes Washer Sustainability Standard

JoewebIn a July column in Appliance Design magazine, AHAM
President Joe McGuire highlights the first-ever sustainability standard for
clothes washers developed jointly by AHAM, CSA Group and Underwriters
Laboratories.

McGuire writes, “The goal of this
standard is to provide meaningful environmental performance information to
manufacturers, governments, retailers, and consumers about clothes washers and
to drive innovation and continual improvement in the sustainability of these
products.??  This standard follows last
year’s release of the first-ever sustainability
standard for refrigeration products
.

 “The standard is intended to be used to
evaluate products for six key attributes: materials, manufacturing and
operations, energy and water consumption during use, consumables, end of life,
and innovation, as a bonus attribute,?? notes McGuire.  The new standards can be especially helpful to
consumers who wish to have additional information when purchasing more
environmentally-friendly products.  For
example, the end-of-life category, consumers can evaluate clothes washers based
upon the amount of recyclable materials they contain.

Click
here
to read more of McGuire’s column. If your company is a supplier to the
appliance industry and you wish to purchase either the standard for
refrigeration products or clothes washers, you may do so here.

Staying Ahead of the Curve with Sustainability

JoewebIn the November issue of Appliance
Design Magazine
, AHAM President Joe McGuire pens a column titled, “Ahead
of the Curve: Sustainability Standard,?? highlighting the first sustainability
standard for refrigeration products (7001/CSA
SPE 7001/UL 7001-2012
) that AHAM and its partners, CSA Standards and UL
Environment
released in June.

McGuire notes, “The standards are credible and compatible
with government and retailer initiatives. In fact, in September AHAM presented
its Sustainability program to many leading industry retailers at the Retail Industry Leaders
Association (RILA)
sustainability conference. The reaction was very
positive and our work is respected; but it is also clear that AHAM is ahead of
the curve with these standards.??

Additionally, he states that AHAM will expand its
sustainability program: “Working with testing agencies as partners, AHAM will
extend its sustainability brand to the marketplace. AHAM’s program will support
companies who wish to have third-party certification to the AHAM/UL/CSA
standards. The common rating scale will ensure all appliances certified under the
AHAM program are rated uniformly and to the same scale and will offer levels of
achievement for those that wish to tout their product’s environmental profile.??

Click
here
to read the full column.

AHAM Releases New Refrigerator Sustainability Standard

Appliance manufacturers can now take advantage of a new Sustainability standard that can be used to evaluate the environmental impact of refrigerators.  Manufacturers can evaluate their products on a scale offering points for using recycled materials and using blowing agents which have a low contribution to greenhouse gases.

It’s the first sustainability standard for refrigerators and is a giant step forward in ensuring that refrigerators are manufactured with regard for how the product will impact the environment during the manufacturing process, while in use by the owner and when it reaches the end of its lifecycle. The standard identifies the environmental impact that refrigeration products have in five key areas:

  • Energy
  • Materials
  • End-of-life
  • Performance
  • Manufacturing

Wayne Morris, AHAM’s Vice President of Technical Operations and Standards, recently spoke with Plastics News about how the new standard and the role of plastics play.

 Click here to read the article.