Saturday, December 19, 2009

Deciding on a Refrigerator

We now have our new Refrigerator installed. It’s lovely and HUGE! You wouldn’t think two people would need so much space in a refrigerator, but we’ve filled it to the brim already. We chose a Samsung 28.5 cu.ft. stainless steel French door with bottom freezer model. The best part about it as I never have to make ice again. It pumps out 4.5 lbs of ice per day!RFG297AARS_medium_20080725


Being the diligent designer that I am, a lot of research was done prior to choosing this model. I thought I’d share some of my findings with you.

Refrigerators made after the end of April 2008 must be 5 percent more efficient to qualify for an Energy Star emblem. But despite advances, refrigerators still use more electricity than any other kitchen appliance because they're always on. The familiar yellow EnergyGuide labels and Energy Star symbols are a useful guide, but not necessarily the only thing you should consider when making your purchase. There are many types/models of refrigerators out there, each offering their own pros and cons. I’ve listed them below along with the most common and useful options available.


Top-freezer refrigerators


These are the traditional type, dating back to the earliest refrigerators. Widths typically run from about 30 to 33 inches. Manufacturers claim up to 22-cubic-foot capacities, but usable capacity is typically 20 percent lower by our measurements. Typically, these models offer the most storage for their size. Since they have fairly wide shelves, it makes it easy to reach all the way to the back. The downside is you have to bend to reach the bottom shelves and drawers.

Bottom-freezer refrigerators


Sales of bottom-freezer Refrigerators are the fastest growing. Widths run from 30 to 36 inches with claimed capacity of up to 26 cubic feet. The bottom-freezers offer eye-level storage and the French-door models provide space-saving narrow door swing of a side-to-side and the ability to open only half the refrigerator when retrieving smaller items. Although you have to bend down when using the freezer, this isn’t typically done as often as accessing the refrigerator.

Side-by-side refrigerators


A vertical, full-length split places the freezer on one side and refrigerator on the other. Side-by-sides typically come with through-the-door ice and water dispensers, temperature-controlled bins, and rapid ice-making cycles. Widths are typically 32 to 36 inches. Claimed capacities are up to 30 cubic feet, but only about 65 to 70 percent is usable. The narrow doors are a plus in a tight kitchen, however; most door don’t open wide enough for a pizza box or other wide items.

Cabinet-depth refrigerators


This type gives you the look of a built-in but for less money. Because the refrigerator is the same depth of your cabinets you achieve a very streamlined look throughout your kitchen. Most come as side-by-sides, but top- and bottom-freezers and French-door models are available. Claimed capacities reach up to 21 cubic feet, but far less than that is usable. The cabinet-depth models have less usable space than the deeper free-standing models, but they cost significantly more.

Refrigerator drawers


These are among the latest luxuries for kitchens where even the biggest refrigerator simply isn't enough. They can mount under a cabinet or in a kitchen island and are ideal for storing drinks and other specialized items. They don’t cost as much to run as their larger counterparts, but that’s because of their limited capacity. Refrigerator drawers are large on price and small on space, leaving them to the elite in kitchen design.


Once you have selected a type of refrigerator that you would like you should consider what options are important. Below are some of the most common and useful on the market:

  • Adjustable door bins and shelves
  • Elevator shelves
  • Full-extension drawers
  • Pullout shelves or bins
  • Split shelves
  • Shelf snuggers
  • Temperature controlled drawers
  • Through the door water and ice dispenser
  • Water filter

Monday, December 7, 2009

Buying a New Dishwasher – What’s Important?

With renovating a kitchen comes buying new kitchen appliances. The next few BLOG articles will outline what to look for and what’s just hype in the world of kitchen appliances.

When looking for a new dishwasher, there’s a number of new features available to you. You can pay up to $1,500 or more for a fancy dishwasher that has hidden controls, digital displays, and special grime-fighting cycles. But when it comes to clean dishes, you don’t have to pay such a high price. Here are some of the things to consider:

Energy Conservation

Dishwashers are using less water as manufacturers strive to meet tougher energy standards; however, it’s taking longer to get dishes clean. Don’t just look at the Energy Star label and automatically assume that you’re going save money. If the washing cycle time has been increased your just burning the energy in a different way.
Adjustable RacksRacks that move up or down, adjustable and removable tines, as well as silverware and stemware holders allow you to reconfigure the interior and organize the contents based on your needs at the time.
Dirt Sensor

The feature will adjust the water use and cycle length to the soil level. If the feature works properly it can improve efficiency, but not all systems work well.

Rinse/Hold Cycle

This feature allows you soak the dirty dishes before you’re ready to start a full cycle. This will reduce odours and prevent soil from setting while you collect enough dishes for a full load.


All dishwashers have filters – they’re used to keep wash water free of food that could re-deposit on your clean dishes. There are two types: self-cleaning and manual. Most filters are self-cleaning; a grinder pulverizes the debris and flushes it down the drain. That's convenient but noisy. Some pricey models have a filter without a grinder. It's quieter, but it needs periodic cleaning (usually every few weeks), a job that takes a few minutes. It's your choice.

Special Wash Cycles Most dishwashers come with at least three cycles: light, normal, and heavy (pots and pans). Some offer pot-scrubber, soak/scrub, steam clean, china/crystal, or sanitizing cycles as well. The three basic cycles should be enough for most chores--even for baked-on food. A sanitizing option that raises water temperature doesn't necessarily clean better.
Stainless-Steel Tub A steel tub is more durable than plastic, but models with a plastic tub tend to cost less. While light-coloured plastic might become discoloured, gray-speckled plastic should resist staining. Even a plastic tub should last longer than most people keep a dishwasher.
Hidden Touchpad Controls Controls mounted along the top edge of the door are strictly a styling touch. They're hidden when the door is closed. You can't see cycle progress at a glance. (Partially hidden controls are a good compromise. They show that the machine is running and often display remaining cycle time.)

Next week: Refrigerators