Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Most Energy Efficient Bulb Ever Made

Lets review how much energy would be saved if everyone just in New England replaced 7 incandescent bulbs to fluorescent.

6.57 billion kwh saved which would light

698,811 homes or a city of 1.5 million

in terms of saved emmissions
1.3 million cars off the road
29,963 railcars of coal
13 billion pounds of carbon dioxide not released into the atmosphere

Thats not bad. Now consider the new LED, which is 1 watt instead of 13 for fluorescent. The lumen equivalent is 35 watt versus 60 for fluorescent, so the energy savings is roughly 6.5 times that of fluorescent..

We will be showing this bulb at The Greenfair June 23 and 24. Hopefully, it will be convincing enough for people to change their lighting

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Five Features to a Gas Range

I once visited the new Whirlpool gas manufacturing plant in Tulsa. I remember watching the cabinets sent through the line and really the demarcation between models was the control panel, burners and the fan(for convection). If you want to purchase an gas freestanding range, this is the list of upgraded features

1. Self Cleaning: Heat cycle that incinerates the baked on food in your oven

2. Convection: Fan forced heat that distributes air more evenly throughout the oven. Convection is a fairly affordable feature starting at $599-$699

3. Power burner: On the better units, the BTU output increases from 12,000-16,000 BTU on one burner for faster cooking. 16,000 BTU is the same as a professional burner, just less costly

4. Fifth Burner: Kind of self explanatory.

5. Warming drawer/ Second oven: A built in warming drawer sells for about $900. In a stove, however, it is a $200-300 upgrade. The warming drawer allows for foods to remian warm for up to 3 hours. It can also be used to effectively refresh leftovers

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Whats in the Name?

There are four major appliance companies in the industry plus a few aspirants. Often times, a manufacturer will produce the identical product under several different labels. With rebates, it is possible for a $200-400 price disparity on the same product. This information can save money when purchasing new appliances...Take a look

Bottom Mount Refrigeration:
Maytag, KitchenAid, JennAir, Amana andWhirlpool
LG and GE

Top Mount refrigeration
Amana and Maytag
GE and Hotpoint

Siemens and Bosch
Thermador and Bosch
Uppper Maytag models and JennAir

Gas Stoves
Siemens and Bosch
Amana, JennAir and Maytag

Electric Stoves
JennAir, Maytag and Amana
GE and Hotpoint(basic models only)

Wine coolers
Marvel and Viking

Wall ovens
Monogram, Profile and GE...A few features different, but inherently the same

Pro Refrigeration
Thermador(not freedom) and KitchenAid
Thermador Freedom and Gaggenau

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Try Before You Buy

One of the antidotes to buyers remorse is actually using the product before purchase. Turn the product on, or bring a plate to understand if it accommodates a dinner plate. There are stores with live demonstration kitchens, consider test driving before you buy.

Have a Nice Weekend

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

You Are Using Your GreatGrandparents Appliances

I read this article about Australians hoarding incandescent bulbs, and it is amazing to me. First, Australia is banning incandescent lighting, so its compact fluorescent or candles starting in 2010.

Our loyalty may be a bit misguided. We keep a car on average of 4 years, a stereo system for 6 and our clothes about 18 months.

The incandescent bulb was invented in 1802, and mass produced in 1879. It is incredibly inefficient as it produces only 10% light and 90% heat. This, of course, adds to your air conditioning bills, etc in the summer. A flourescent bulb is 4 times more efficient and emits 3 times less heat and lasts 10 times longer

The top load washer was invented in 1906, and mass produced in the 1930s. My grandfather actually sold Bendix, which was among the first. The machine has not changed substantially since 1947.....60 years ago. A new front load washer is up to 62% bigger AND 62% more efficient at the same time

The electric cooktop and stove was first manufactured in 1912. It is 55% efficient(gas is 60%) and induction is 90%. The heat expelled adds to heating, venting and higher energy costs and consumption.

I do not see any stagecoaches on Interstate RT93 outside my office, but we can clearly see a solution. Changing to newer technologies has clear benefits in terms of saving money(lots of it) and the environment

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Ultimate Price Guarantee

In previous posts, the topics of customer service, delivery and repair have been discussed. It is crucial to understand from whom you are buying before you spend your money.

I also promised not commercialize Yale, but since Chuck is fighting, why not.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

New Manufacturers Rebates....May 24-31

Memorial Day seems to be a time when manufacturers offer tons of rebates. The incentives could be up to $300 in addition to current rebate programs. 65% of the readership is outside our trade area. The rebates apply to at least New England. Check your local store, if applicable.

5 Considerations to Buying Appliances

1. Cooking should be first. Dimensionally, dishwashers and to a certain extent refrigerators have similar specification. The biggest decision will always be cooking. Wall ovens and cooktop versus range changes the complexion of your kitchen more than any other appliance.

2. Consider a shallow depth refrigerator. Shallow refrigerators do not extrude into the kitchen for a more linear, customized look. You do not have to spend a ton of dough on a SubZero or other professional style products. Look at KitchenAid, LG and Frigidaire for decent, more affordable products.

3. Rebates. Most manufacturers have had price increases over the past 18 months. However, the battle for market share is so fierce that rebates could total 20-25% of the total product. Often times, the rebates are geometric, meaning the rebates are increased when you buy more from the same manufacturer.

4. Buy a front loader. The cost savings are too large to ignore. Read some of the earlier blog entries. Buying older technology will cost at least $2,000 plus over the lifetime of the machine

5.Vent properly especially if you cook. It does not cost a fortune for a decent hood. Look at Zephyr and Best. You do not want smoke and grease inside your house

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Buying Lighting

Buying lighting can be difficult. Lighting companies have no brand awareness, so consumers have no benchmarks. Unfortunately, there are all types of lighting products.

Here are a few common sense tips to navigate the lighting spectrum:

1. Check the Finish. Finishes should be metallic not painted. Painted finishes over time will fleck

2. If it flickers on a display, forget it. On low voltage fixtures, the main component is a transformer. There are good and bad transformers. A bad transformer will effectively cause the light to malfunction.

3. Check the fit: Simple stuff really...Does a fixture hang straight on a display.

4. Not all the glass is the same: Murano or Evianne glass shades project a better light than painted shades

5. Warranty? Only a few companies will provide a comprehensive guarantee in case the light fails

5 Ways to Check Your Appliance Store

Read these points and add them to your shopping list. We all know how to price shop item for item. This information will insure that you will be treated fairly

1. Check the reputation of the store by looking at the Better Business Bureau. A high volume store will not be perfect, but tons of complaints are a huge red flag

2. How much are the extraneous charges? Delivery, removal and cords can be huge extras. Know up front. Do not wait until time of delivery

3. Do they have a service department? 10-15% of the products sold will need a service call within the first year. Do not be surprised, your car is pretty much the same. Factories have curtailed service, which is a huge problem

4. Do not be hard sold. Often, a salesperson will be paid to sell a house brand or special model.

5. Same as 4, check the brand offerings of the store. If they do not display, often times they will buy it from another dealer, which increases the price to you

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

An Interesting Dishwasher Idea

I saw this in the Fagor booth at KBIS, but KitchenAid Boston showed the concept a couple of years ago. Basically instead of stooping for your dishwasher, you place it in a base cabinet. The dishwasher is raised to a more ergometric(love that word) level.


We actually show the same concept in one of our kitchens at Yale. Two single drawer dishwashers are placed on either side of the sink.

Fisher & Paykel DishDrawers

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Newest, Latest and Greatest...Ventilation

There were some interesting vents from Zephyr, Viking and Franke(the new owner of Faber)


Zephyr hood....Very nice

The Shade by Zephyr....It is actually customizeable


Franke hood....Yes they are a sink company, but they recently purchased Faber


More Franke....


Even more Franke

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Newest, Latest and Greatest...Stoves

The following are pictures of the next generation of stoves as displayed at Kitchen and Bath. Please consider that most of these products will be available in 6-12 months.


This is a company called Fagor. The above are induction cooktops


Gas cooktop again from Fagor


This is an interesting induction mirrored top from Thermador


La Cornu range...small oven


This a new color from Bertazoni. Their products are pretty interesting in general. They do not have self cleaning, but are significantly less than a professional stove


Light blue from Dacor. It actually looked pretty good(no, I was not drinking at the show)

GreenFair June 23-24

There is no need to go from apathy to despair about the environment and global warming. We just need to change our current thinking and apply some new technologies. When we launched The Green Project about a year ago, it amazed me how much money and energy the average consumer can save by buying better and more efficient products.

So, on June 23 and 24, we will rent a tent and display every Green product in our industry. We will also have seminars, a packet of household tips, cooking demos and a seminar or two. If NSTAR signs, we hopefully give away a few thousand fluorescent bulbs.

A few more odd Green facts

Human activities have caused some 500 bird species worldwide to go extinct over the past five millennia. The predominant cause of species loss is habitat destruction.

Polar bears and hippos have joined the ranks of species threatened with extinction from climate change, unregulated hunting and other man-made dangers. More than 16,000 species of animals and plants are at risk of disappearing.

Rainforests cover only 7% of the earth's land surface, but they contain more than half of the species on earth.

Since 1980, the earth has experienced 19 of its 20 hottest years on record, with 1998 the hottest and 2002 and 2003 tied for second.

Over the course of 50 years, a single tree can generate $31,250 of oxygen, provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycle $37,500 worth of water, and control $31,500 worth of soil erosion.

Approximately 100 million people in the U.S. are breathing air that is below the federal air quality standard because of microscopic soot from power plants, diesel-burning trucks, cars and factories.

Friday, May 11, 2007

How to Buy.....An Air Conditioner

Buying an air conditioner was complicated at one time. Now it is easy, because manufacturers like Sharp, Panasonic, Friedrich and Emerson either have diminished offerings or have exited the category completely. Air conditioners are available in 5,000 to 36,000 BTU.

What you need to know:

EER: Measure of energy efficiency. Anything over 9.5 EER is considered decent and over 10 is excellent. The difference in .5 is 5% per cent

Slide out chassis: Acs with a slide out chassis can be built through a wall

Casement: There are special units for casement windows only

Controls: The better units have electronic or remote controls

Voltage: Bigger units over 16,000 require 220 volts, smaller units are 110 volt

Sizing of acs: The biggest mistake is oversizing acs. A larger unit does not dehumidify properly and the cold air will actually freeze the unit. There are several factors on how to size an air condition. First is the square footage and the height of the ceilings. Secondly, any additional heat sources need to be calculated: extra people, computers, stoves, and exposure of the sun. I have attached a good basic guide to assist.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How To Buy....A Pro Range(basic Info)

Professional ranges are a relatively recent phenomenon. Viking actually manufactured the first pro in 1990. A Pro range is an adaptation of a commercial range, but is insualted so it can be zero clearance to wood cabinets. Like a commercial range, a pro range will have the high BTU output, but will be warm not hot to the touch.

The basic sizes of a pro range are 30, 36, 48 and 60 inches wide. Basic features are:

Convection: Fan forced heat for more even baking

High Output Burners: 15-17,500 BTU burners for faster cooking. It is important to note that a regular range has one high output burner

Grill option: 18,000 BRU grill on 36 inch units and higher

Griddle Option: Thermostatically controlled griddle for flapjacks, grill cheese, bacon, etc

Simmer: Point of distinction: Simmer could be 900 BTU on a Viking to 500 BTU simmer on a Wolf to an intermittent simmer of 250 BTU simmer on Thermador(2 burners only)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How to Buy....A Slide in Range

I really like Rich. We have been working together for 10 years, and he really is a nice guy. I walked in the store today, and he asked me how his podcasts rated versus Dennis and Kurt. We will let the public judge...

Now to the topic at hand: A slide in range is simply a range without a backguard that fits over the countertop. This addresses two issues. Because the range has no backguard, a slide in allows a consumer to tile or customize the backsplash. This provides a cleaner, more linear look throughout the kitchen. A slidein also sits on the counter, so there are no seams for dirt, etc to ooze down the sides.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Kitchen and Bath Show

I am headed to KBIS to see the latest on our industry especially energy saving, Green appliances. For new readers interested in energy efficiency, look at our earlier posts...Especially the How to sections

Friday, May 04, 2007

Green Tips

I had three conversations this morning. One was about Manny's home run late to win a great game. The other two were global warming related. I am not seeking or even initiating these interactions. I had no idea that honey bees were inexplicably vanishing from existence. I also had no inkling that mosquitoes in Maine are incubating similarly to the ones in New Jersey twenty years ago due to weather changes.

We can change this significantly by minor alterations. Below are a few easy remedies to save money, energy and the environment.

1. Stop using heated dry on your dishwasher. Most of the energy expended in a dishwasher is heat related. For an alternative use the Energy Saver Dry and Jet Dry or Somat, which will aid condensation

2. Stop using the warm rinse in washing machines. This is an easy one. The cycle uses energy for little benefit

3. Use a microwave if possible...It is 4 times cheaper to operate.

4. Throw away the old refrigerator downstairs. It costs 200-300 dollars to operate.

5. Shut off your paddle fans when you are not in the room. Fans lower temperature by wind chill, which is only felt when you are in the room

6. Unplug lamps, chargers or anything you do not need. If it is plugged in and not in operation, it still uses electricity

7. Buy compact fluorescent bulbs. The investment will return 40-200 dollars per bulb plus longer life and less heat(which eliminates the need for more electricity)

8. Sensors, timers and motion detectors are good ideas, but shutting lights off is still the best

9. Buy a front load washer....62% more capacity, 62% less energy and 3 times the spin speed for faster drying add up to huge savings per year and less time doing laundry.

10. Do not preheat when broiling...There is no need, and broiling is already the highest heat available in cooking

Thursday, May 03, 2007

LED Undercounter Lighting

Finially, LED lighting will be available residentially. Color Kinetics will be producing a 12 and 6 inch under counter light. This light is finially white at 2700 degrees Kelvin, and emits the incandescent equivalent of about 60 watts with an energy consumption of about 6 watts. LED is the future of decorative and accent lighting.

Below are some really bad pictures of a very good prototype:


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May 2....LED

Tommorrow a new product will be unveiled in lighting or at least a new prototype. The leader in LED technology, Color Kinetics, will be showing us their new undercounter light and LED low voltage spot.

LED or light emitting diodes is the most promising light technology available. It lasts 50,000 hours, emits zero heat and uses 15 to 20 times less wattage than conventional incandescent. The only problem with LED has been the inability to produce white light.

Color Kinetics is showing us a 2 watt low voltage light bulb with a 50 watt incandescent equivalent. In theory, a homeowner would be able to use about 50 watts for their whole house

Now lets see if it works

How to....Buy a Pro Grill

Podcasting is the way....or so I thought. Poor Richie sounds like we are taping his confession before the execution, so I am actually writing a post.

The whole outside lifestyle movement has spawned a new upscale invention...The Pro Grill. The brands to consider are Viking, Lynx and DCS. Typically the sizes start at 27" with 54" being the largest. These products have all stainless construction which prevents weathering and heavy BTU output for cooking fast.

Features to consider

1. Side burners- 15,000 BTUs for cooking

2. Pro sear- The pro sear element cooks the outside faster leaving the inside juicy

3. Rotisserie- Kind of self explanatory, but look for the infra red in the back for even cooking

4. Smoker accessory for smokey flavor

Now lets watch poor Richie