10 Appliances that Can Save You Money

Espresso iStockMedium

With the high gas prices and head-wagging inflation these days, what budget-conscious family isn’t trying to save money wherever they can? While there’s certainly nothing wrong with an occasional indulgence or splurge on things that make you happy, if you find yourself stopping off at the local coffee shop each morning, lugging home cases of bottled water, or eating out for most meals, you might want to consider cutting back where you can.  

A variety of home appliances can help save big money in the long run; whether through energy savings or simply saving money by making and doing things yourself. Here are 10 common appliances that can help you save money. Best of all, you probably have many of them in your home right now!  

Coffeemaker: Making your own coffee at home instead of buying it from coffee shops can save a significant amount of money over time. Resisting that daily $3 cup of coffee from a local café can save you more than $1,000 per year!  

Slow Cooker: Slow cookers are energy-efficient and can turn inexpensive cuts of meat and vegetables into delicious, budget-friendly meals. You can even prepare large batches and freeze leftovers for future use. 

Rice Cooker: Cooking rice at home using a rice cooker is more cost-effective than buying pre-packaged rice dishes. Many rice cookers also have steamer attachments for vegetables, making them versatile appliances. 

Toaster Oven: Toaster ovens are more energy-efficient than conventional ovens, and can be used for a wide range of cooking tasks, from toasting bread to reheating leftovers. 

Food Processor: A food processor can help you save money since you can buy ingredients in bulk, and then prepare your own sauces, dips, and snacks instead of buying pre-packaged versions. 

Blender: Making your own smoothies, soups, and sauces with a blender can be cheaper and healthier than buying pre-made alternatives. 

Freezer: Investing in a good-quality freezer allows you to buy food in bulk when it’s on sale, and store it for later use. This can help you take advantage of discounts and reduce food waste. 

Dishwasher: Using a dishwasher efficiently can save on water and energy costs compared to handwashing dishes. 

Water filter: Using a water filtration system on your refrigerator or installing a water filter on taps can save money on bottled water and reduce the need for expensive water delivery services. As an added benefit, water filters can reduce the number of plastic bottles that eventually clog landfills. 

Portable Electric Heaters: Turn down the heat and use portable heaters in rooms that are used frequently. Keeping the thermostat at a lower temperature could save money. 

Remember that while these appliances can help you save money over time, it’s also important to consider factors like energy efficiency and proper maintenance to maximize your savings. When it’s time to replace older appliances, opt for energy-efficient models, such as ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, which can reduce your energy and water bills. 

Everything You Need to Know About Induction Cooking

Home cooks are fortunate to have three solid options for cooking methods in ranges and cooktops—gas, standard electric and induction. While induction ranges make up less than 5 percent of all electric ranges, according to AHAM factory shipment data, that percentage has grown in recent years. In 2022, induction cooktops made up about one-third of all electric cooktop shipments, a 6% increase over the previous year.

Induction technology is not new—it was introduced publicly at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair—but many consumers still are not as familiar with induction cooking as they are with its gas and electric counterparts. We have put together a primer on what you need to know about induction cooking if you are thinking about making the switch from gas or electric.

How Induction Cooking Works

Induction ranges and cooktops look a lot like typical glass-top electric models, but they generate heat differently. Induction cooking takes place on a flat glass surface that is equipped with heating coils that create electromagnetic energy. This field induces electric currents in the pans. These currents are activated by iron in cookware. Restated another way, induction cooktops use those electromagnetic fields to create heat in the cookware by generating a magnetic field that induces electrical currents in the metal of the cookware, creating heat. In other words, the cookware itself becomes the heat source, rather than the cooktop.

Electric cooktops, on the other hand, use electric resistance coils or heating elements underneath a ceramic or glass surface to generate heat. The cooktop surface gets hot, which in turn conducts heat to the cookware. Some infrared transfer from the elements through the glass also helps increase the heat of the pan on the glass.

Gas cooktops burn natural gas or propane to create a flame, and the heat from the flame is transferred to the cookware via direct contact with the flame.

With induction, when the iron makes contact with the magnetic field, the iron particles of the pot or pan agitate, causing the pan to heat up quickly while the cooktop remains cool. The induction process occurs quickly; partly because there is no waiting time for a burner to heat up first. Plus, because of the direct transfer from the magnetic field to the iron in the pan, there is hardly any loss of heat, so whatever is being cooked heats up quickly! And only the pan, and what is in it, gets hot.

When using the appropriate type and size of pan, induction ranges and cooktops heat faster than their electric and gas counterparts, leading to quicker cooking times.

The Induction Cooking Experience

Now that you know a little bit about how induction cooking works, here are six ways your cooking experience might change once you make the switch to induction from gas or electric:

  • Induction cooktops maintain a cool cooking surface. With induction, only the pan and what’s in it get hot. The heating element is not exposed, so there are no fire hazards or risk of burns from the stovetop itself. (Gas and electric ranges and cooktops are also very safe when used as recommended.)
  • Like other smooth-top electrics, induction surfaces are easy to wipe down right after cooking because the surface remains relatively cool. Due to the cooler temps on the glass surface on an induction unit, any spills will not burn onto it. (Gas and electric ranges and cooktops are also simple to clean with the proper technique.)
  •  While it is a popular misconception that you will need to buy all new cookware when you switch to induction, the reality is that most cookware, especially stainless steel and cast-iron cookware, is compatible with induction, as it may already contain iron. If you are shopping for cookware for induction cooktops, look for pots and pans marked ‘induction-compatible’ or ‘induction safe.’ Also, cookware with a flat bottom will provide the best cooking results.
  • Cookware needs to be the correct size and needs to be placed in the center of the heating element in order for it to be properly activated. The pot can’t be too small, off-center, or wobbly, so flat-bottomed pots and pans work best.
  • While most induction cooktops have a setting that allows you to shake the
    pan while cooking, the heating element can cut off prematurely, which can be frustrating until you get the hang of it.
  • Induction cooktops sometimes cause a rattling, whirring, or humming sound as high energy transfers from the magnetic coil to the pan. This sound usually goes away when you turn down the heat or add food to the pot or pan, but it can be surprising (and annoying) for some users. There can also be a sound from the cooling fan for the electronics.

Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

While inflation is beginning to ease a bit, Americans are still feeling the pinch of higher grocery prices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), food prices rose 4.9 percent between July 2022 and July 2023, with groceries landing at 3.6 percent higher year-over-year. In the year prior, grocery prices were a whopping 7.4 percent higher year-over-year, with the sharpest increases in meat and seafood. Prices for kitchen staples like milk and eggs headed upward as well. 

An NBC News analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data showed that U.S. consumers are paying nearly 40% more for a basket of common grocery items — including eggs, chicken, milk and coffee — than they did the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In addition, food inflation is still running hotter than the overall inflation rate. The BLS food index was up 5.7% in July 2023 from the same time last year — steeper than the national inflation rate of 3%. 

These stunning statistics leave many people looking for ways to get the most out of every dollar they spend on food. We’re here to tell you that one of the best ways to save money on food is to reduce the amount of food that’s wasted. 

The Low-down on Food Waste 

The amount of food you waste might surprise you. A 2020 study by researchers at Penn State University (and published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics), estimated that the average American household wasted just over 30 percent of its food. That’s a lot of food being bought and not eaten. Food waste is also an environmental issue, as food waste sent to a landfill releases methane, a greenhouse gas, as it breaks down. Food waste accounts for 24% of trash sent to landfills, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Reducing food waste can be a challenge. Life happens. Leftovers get hidden behind something else in the refrigerator (effective refrigerator organization can take care of that), or you forget about fruit or vegetables in the crisper (out of sight, out of mind). 

It’s time to put your appliances to work to help you cut food waste out of your life. Here are some options: 

Blend the stems, ends, and stalks into a smoothie: The ends of carrots, celery and other vegetables that didn’t make it into the main dish can be used to add a little more nutrition to your next smoothie. Healthline recommends using parts of produce that aren’t traditionally consumed, like the tops of beets and carrots, and fruit and vegetable peels. 

Make juice: A juicer makes it easy to make juice from fruits and vegetables that are about to go to waste. You can use your blender to make juice if you don’t have a juicer. Some blenders even have a “juice” setting. You may have to strain the mixture afterward if you want a thinner juice. 

Cook up a pot of soup: You can make soup from any vegetable. Soup is an excellent way to use many leftover ingredients at once. And you can freeze leftover soup so it doesn’t go to waste. 

Overnight oats: Get a jump on tomorrow’s breakfast. Any type of fruit can be used to make overnight oats in your refrigerator. 

Potato peel chips: You thought those potato peels were destined for the trash or food waste disposer, but 20 minutes in the oven can turn them into a satisfying snack. Use a potato peeler instead of a knife so the peels aren’t too thick. This is a perfect way to get more out of what you have if you’ve recently made mashed potatoes or another recipe that didn’t use the peels. 

Make bone broth: Use bones, skin and any leftover meat, fat, gristle or vegetable pieces to make a pot of bone broth. You’ll need your slow cooker or multi-cooker, and possibly your oven. Try this recipe from Old Time Farm. Bone broth is rich in nutrients and may have other health benefits. 

Stay organized to reduce food waste: Keeping an organized refrigerator and freezer is another important step in reducing household food waste: 

  • Store food in clear containers with labels showing the date it was put into the refrigerator or freezer. 
  • Put older foods and opened foods up front.
  • Organize your refrigerator and make a meal plan before you shop. 
  • Create “zones” in your freezer for different types of foods. 
  • Freeze food in serving-sized portions. 
  • Keep what you will be eating next easily accessible.

A few scraps are unavoidable. Put them in the food waste disposer instead of the trash. 

Even small steps to reduce food waste can really add up. Following are 5 tips from the Mayo Clinic Health System for ways to reduce food waste in the kitchen: 

 

Down the drain: Reduce trash with a food waste disposer

A food waste disposer, often called a ‘garbage disposal,’ can make cleaning up after a big meal or get-together a whole lot easier. These under-the-sink workhorses provide an environmentally friendly option for effortlessly disposing of food waste – waste that might otherwise go to the landfill.  

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food waste is estimated to be between 30 and 40 percent of the food supply in the United States and is the biggest single contributor to municipal landfills. The top three groups of wasted foods are meat, poultry, and fish (41%); vegetables (17%); and dairy products (14%). Plus, when food ends up in landfills, it contributes to the third-largest source (17%) of human-induced methane emissions in the U.S.  

What does this have to do with food waste disposers? Simple! The benefits food waste disposers can have on reducing the volume of garbage heading to the landfill are significant. 

Getting the Most Out of Your Food Waste Disposer 

While food waste disposers can handle a wide array of food scraps, they are not made for everything. Putting the wrong things down the disposer can damage the appliance and cause problems in your plumbing and/or sewer system. Food waste disposers can handle most types of food waste that are produced in a typical home, but they have different capabilities. Your disposer’s use-and-care manual is the best resource to learn what your model can and cannot grind.  

Here are some tips from AHAM member InSinkErator for effectively using and maintaining a food waste disposer: 

  • Avoid putting large amounts of food waste down the disposer at once. This can clog the drain. 
  • Run cold water when using your disposer and continue to run it for a few minutes after grinding. This will ensure that the scraps flow properly through your plumbing. 
  • Do not use hot water when grinding waste. You may run hot water through the disposer when it is not being used. 
  • Never put shellfish shells down a food waste disposer. 
  • Never put oil, grease fat down the food waste disposer. This can lead to clogged pipes. 
  • Clean your food waste disposer every two weeks or as necessary by removing the sink baffle and cleaning the underside with a scouring pad. After you have put it back in the drain, put a mixture of ice cubes and lemon or lime wedges into the disposer and run the disposer while cold water is running. 
  • Do not attempt to clear clogs with your fingers. Clogs are best handled with a plunger or plumber’s helper. Do not use chemicals to clear clogs. Call a plumber if necessary.  

Safety, security, warranty: Why it’s important to have your appliances repaired by authorized providers

Every day, you rely on your appliances to keep yourself and your family safe, clean, fed and comfortable. It’s a disruption when one of them suddenly stops working. When a refrigerator breaks down, it can mean spoiled or unsafe food. A heater or air conditioner that malfunctions means you can be left to suffer through extreme heat or cold. Laundry appliances breaking down mean the clothes start to pile up. The scenarios are at best inconvenient, and at worst put your health or safety at risk.
Regardless of what went wrong, you probably want to have your appliance repaired as quickly as possible. You may call around to a few repair shops to compare prices, availability and expertise. Most will have staff that can repair a refrigerator, clothes washer, range or other appliances. But you also need to make sure they’ve gone through the necessary training to get the job done.

Does it really matter who fixes my appliance?

It does. Authorized service providers have been trained by the appliance manufacturer to service your appliance. This means they have access to both the knowledge and the necessary parts, technical information and, in some cases, software that’s specific to your appliance. Your choice of service providers can have major implications for your appliance’s safety, security and warranty.

Safety: Authorized service providers are required to make repairs with parts and equipment that have been tested and meet specific safety and reliability requirements. Service providers that are not authorized may use substitutes that don’t meet the same rigorous requirements. That, combined with the fact that the service provider may not have proper training on installation, can create safety risks.

Security: Manufacturers, through the development of smart and connected appliances, are bringing consumers to new levels of comfort and convenience. However, as with any connected device, they’re also requiring consumers to pay careful attention to their electronic security. Servicing smart and connected appliances requires special training and access to information that manufacturers make available to authorized providers only. Anyone servicing a smart or connected appliance could potentially have a gateway to the appliance owner’s electronic network. It’s critical that this work be left to authorized providers, who will take the measures necessary to limit exposure.

Warranty: If you still aren’t convinced of the importance of using authorized repair providers, here’s another reason: If you allow an unauthorized repair provider to work on your appliance, or if you attempt to make the repair yourself, you could void your appliance’s warranty. That means that the cost of any future repairs that might have been covered under your warranty will now be your responsibility.

Your appliance’s use and care manual or manufacturer’s website will likely provide information on how you can locate an authorized service provider. In the long run, authorized repairs will likely save you time, increase your peace of mind, and help keep your appliances in top shape.

Easy ways you can prevent cooking fires

There are more than 100 million ranges and cooktops in use in the U.S. today, and most are operated safely and without incident. When fires do occur, they’re usually preventable through a few simple steps. AHAM has partnered with UL, the National Association of State Fire Marshals, and the National Safety Council to develop its Recipe for Safer Cooking. These preventive measures will help you greatly reduce the chances that a cooking fire will occur in your home:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires.
  • Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when you cook. Loose-fitting clothing can catch fire.
  • Keep an eye on children in the kitchen. When they’re old enough to cook, teach them how to do it safely.
  • Keep your cooking areas clean. Food and grease build-up can increase the risk of fire.
  • Keep curtains, towels, pot holders and other fabrics away from hot surfaces.
  • Store solvents and flammable cleaners away from heat sources. Never keep gasoline in the house.
  • Turn pan handles inward to prevent food spills that can result in serious burns.

Unfortunately, fires sometimes happen even when preventive measures are taken. Memorize these steps so you and your family are ready if a fire happens:

  • Immediately call your local fire department. Have the department’s emergency number on hand, as calling 911 will instead direct you to a central emergency services center. That means the response time could be slightly longer.
  • If a grease fire breaks out, put a lid on the pot to smother the flames, then turn off the heat and leave the lid in place while the pan cools.
  • Use baking soda to extinguish cooking fires.
  • If a fire starts inside the oven or broiler, keep the door closed and turn off the heat to smother the fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it. Contact your local fire department for training.
  • Keep a working smoke detector in your home and test it every month.

AHAM and appliance manufacturers are attacking the problem of unattended cooking fires through the technical advances to cut down on the potential for fires, and through consumer awareness initiatives like the Recipe for Safer Cooking. Visit AHAM’s store to order copies of the Recipe for Safer Cooking and other fire-prevention information.

Are you looking for more ways to make your kitchen safer? Take this kitchen appliance safety advice from John Drengenberg, also known as “Mr. Safety.”

Do your part to prevent range-tipping

Have you taken steps to prevent range-tipping accidents in your home?  Typically, range-tipping accidents occur when a child climbs on to the open door of a range which has not been secured to the floor or wall by an anti-tip bracket and the child’s weight causes the range to tip over onto the child. This can cause death or serious injury from the weight of the range, plus burns and scalding injuries from hot food and liquids that fall from the cooktop.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 78% of tip-over accidents that led to injuries involved furniture, 18% involved televisions and 4% involved appliances. Tip-over accidents occur in most rooms in the home, but only 4% occur in kitchens. That’s compared to 45% in bedrooms, 24% in living rooms and 29% in other areas of the home.

Range-tipping is easily prevented, and taking right measures can reduce the risk to almost zero. Here’s what you can do to remove the risk of a range-tipping tragedy from your home:

  • Have an anti-tip device installed: S. safety organizations, including UL, require that manufacturers include an easily installable anti-tip device with every new range. The devices prevent tip-over accidents by securing ranges to the floor or wall. All AHAM members that manufacture ranges adhere to the safety and stability requirements. The devices anchor the range so that it will not tip over. Manufacturers also require that anti-tip devices be included as part of installation. Check with your installer to make sure this is being done. Contact your range manufacturer, appliance dealer or an authorized service agent if you aren’t sure whether anti-tip device was installed or if you think you need a replacement anti-tip device.
  • Keep the door closed: Keep the range door closed when the appliance isn’t in use.
  • Talk to your children: Educate your children on the proper, safe use of the range. Tell them that the open door should never be used as a step.
  • Keep the weight off: Never use the door of the range as a step or to support other objects, such heavy pans that may be inside the oven cooking.
  • Check your range for an anti-tip device: If you don’t know whether an anti-tip device has been installed on your range, it’s easy to find out. Take a look under the range to see if it’s anchored to the floor, or pull gently on the back of the range to see if you’re able to pull it off the floor. If you aren’t, it’s likely that an anti-tip device is installed.

Appliance manufacturers include the installation of range-tipping devices in their instruction manuals. But ultimately, it is the responsibility of the consumer and the professionals who install the ranges to make sure the anti-tip devices are installed.

AHAM has been a leading voice for the prevention of range-tipping accidents. Its extensive public education campaign led to manufacturers including information on preventing range tipping in their manuals. AHAM has also worked to educate building inspectors and code officials, federal housing officials, building managers, landlords and insurance companies.

Get AHAM’s brochure on how to protect against range tipping.

About This Blog

HOME for cooking, cleanliness, comfort and care

Categories