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How to avoid returning home appliances

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Are you going to take advantage of Memorial Day or Father’s Day sales on appliances?  While everyone loves a great deal, it’s important to make sure you’re buying the right appliances for you, your home and your loved ones. Fortunately, a little bit of research can save you another trip to the store to return the product.

AHAM partnered with Bellomy Research to study the leading reasons portable appliances—including small kitchen, personal care, garment care, air treatment and floor care appliances—are returned. Here are a few of those, plus some advice that can save you the hassle of a return and help you choose the appliances that work best for you.

Is it the right appliance for the job? Aside from mechanical, electrical or functional defects, unmet expectations about performance are by far the top reason portable and floor care appliances are returned. AHAM’s advice: Ask the retailer for an in-store product demonstration before you buy, including trying it out for yourself. Consider the set-up process. Many consumers who made returns say an easier set-up process would have made them less likely to return the product.

Is the appliance a good fit? Size matters, and many appliances are brought back because they’re too small. AHAM’s advice: Ask a sales representative if you may remove the appliance from the package before you buy it to make sure it’s the right size for you and your home.

Does it match? Choosing the right size, color and model is a big deal. Second thoughts about those, or later finding a preferred model, are both common reasons for returns. AHAM’s advice: Spend time researching what you want to buy, and get a sense of the different sizes, colors, styles and models available.

Research is key to finding the appliances you want and need the first time around. About 18 percent of customers who had made returns said more research on their part would have cut down on the chances of them making a return. Appliance manufacturers have a number of resources available, including their websites and online instruction manuals, to customers who want to learn more about their products.

Contact the appliance manufacturer even if you’ve already bought the appliance and are thinking about bringing it back. Only 40 percent of consumers surveyed said they had spoken with the product’s manufacturer before returning an item. The manufacturer may be able to help you address the issue, eliminating the need for a return.

Appliance buying tips for Mother’s Day

Little cute girl with her mother eating orange while cooking. Kitchen interior. Concept for young kitchen hands

Mother’s Day is the biggest day of the year for portable appliance sales, and with good reason. Millions of people are looking to show their mothers how much they love and appreciate them with a gift that will give your mom a few minutes of escape, provide some comfort and relaxation, or even take over a chore entirely. Appliances can provide all of those. Here are a few tips from AHAM to help you make this year’s Mother’s Day gift a memorable one:

Get Mom what she wants: Mother’s Day is all about mom! Does your mom have her eye on a particular appliance? Surprises are nice, but ask enough questions to make sure you’re buying the color, style and model she wants. Odds are she’ll appreciate that more than a surprise. A recipient not liking or wanting a gift is one of the top reasons appliances are returned.

Get the right fit: Appliances should blend in to your home. The appliance’s color, style and size should fit in with your current home layout and décor. Do you have plans to remodel soon? Decide whether the appliance you’re buying fits in with your plans.

Put some time back on her hands: Does your mother hate to vacuum? Go high-tech with a robotic vacuum. Let her get a few more minutes of sleep with a smart coffee maker. Take a look at manufacturers’ emerging lines of connected appliances to see what aspects of the household chores you can automate.

Ask for a demonstration:  Will your gift meet mom’s expectations? One way to find out is to ask for an in-store demonstration. This is common, and many dealers will have a model on-hand for the occasion.

Do your homework: Learn about the appliance before you buy it. Take the time to read through the manufacturer’s website and take a look at the instruction manuals of the models you’re considering to learn what features and functions they offer. Compare online reviews of the products.

Remember, it’s about creating memories, not chores. The right appliance can help your family build memories on Mother’s Day and for years to come.

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

Consumer-Durables

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!

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.

Five Appliances that Save You Money

Espresso iStockMediumIf you find yourself stopping off at a coffee shop before work each morning, lugging home cases of bottled water from the grocery or always eating out, you might want to look at how home appliances can save you money. Even better, most of them you probably already have in your kitchen so why not start saving money right now?

Coffeemakers—Save on pricy coffeehouse blends by brewing your morning cup at home.  Resisting a $3 cup of coffee will save you nearly $1,000 per year!

Freezers—Stock up on frozen foods when they are on sale. Last year, nearly 2 million home freezers were shipped for sale as consumers realized the savings in stocking up on frozen sale items.  Also, remember to shop for an ENERGY STAR freezer to save even more on energy costs.

Water filters—Use a water filtration system in your refrigerator instead of buying bottled water.  This practice will save you money, and will help the environment by reducing the number of plastic bottles that clog landfills.

Portable electric heaters—Turn down the heat and use portable heaters in rooms that are used frequently.  Keeping the thermostat down will save money while portable heaters provide direct and quick warmth.

Cook at home—An electric oven turned on for one hour on 350ºF only uses 2kWh of electricity, costing just 24 cents.   The cost of dining out can add up quickly when you add in drinks, tips and tax.   Try cooking at home for a low-cost meal.  Tons of free recipes can be found online from AllRecipes.com, Food.com and Food Network just to name a few.

Kitchen Redesign Regrets

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Many of us would love to have the kitchen of our dreams, equipped with beautiful appliances, cabinets and countertops, and one that will surely impress family and friends at a get-together. For some, those dreams became nightmares when their kitchen redesigns didn’t go as planned. Readers of This Old House magazine share some of their experiences of when kitchen remodeling went awry.  Some kitchen can remodels can be stressful – and expensive – experiences. This Old House suggests you follow these tips when planning to remodel to help make the process go smoother:

4 Steps to Fewer Regrets

1. Invest in the best quality materials and workmanship you can afford. A shoddy job will have to be redone sooner, creating more waste and costing you more in the end.

2. Know your needs and plan ahead. Choose materials that will stand up to kids, clean freaks, dogs—whatever’s “real” in your world.

3. Listen to the experts. Kitchen designers, architects, and fellow remodelers all know things you need to learn—the sooner, the better.

4. Go with your gut. If you’re second-guessing yourself now, chances are you’ll be smacking yourself six months down the road.

Do you have any advice from your kitchen remodeling experience?

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.

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.

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.