When updating a kitchen or laundry room, you'll need to make important decisions about household appliances. In a typical kitchen, the appliances represent a total investment of $3000 to $5000. Today, consumers face a wide selection of appliance sizes, technologies, configurations and styles. Below are some factors that you should use to evaluate and compare different household appliances.
Appliance Energy Efficiency
It makes a great deal of sense to evaluate carefully your appliance choices according to energy efficiency.
For some appliances, you have a choice between natural gas or electricity as a power source. In general, gas is a less expensive source for any activity involving heating such as dryers, hot water heaters and furnaces. Even if your home is not currently hooked up to a gas line, check with the gas company before ruling out gas appliances. The utility company may be able to connect your home.
Energy efficiencies are also based upon the materials the appliance is made from. Different materials heat and cool at different rates. The amount and type of insulation used in the appliance is another important factor. The appliance labels should detail this information.
Choosing an appliance that is the right size is important. In general, if energy is expended to accommodate a small, specific space, rather than a large one, energy savings will accrue. Most appliances come with energy labels. These are bright yellow labels that indicate the average total cost of energy the appliance consumes per year.
Finally, there is the issue of speed, the faster the machine completes its task the less time it consumes energy. This is one of the reasons that microwaves are so energy efficient.
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Many people pay a premium for an appliance that does everything under the sun, only to discover that they never get around to figuring out how to use all of those fancy functions.
Be sure to evaluate all of the available features before you purchase an appliance. Have a salesperson show you how to activate those features. Then think carefully about whether these features will really enhance your lifestyle. For example, to some people, an icemaker is an expensive, unnecessary extravagance. For others, it's an absolute necessity. Only you can decide what's important.
More and more people are moving laundry equipment to an alcove near the kitchen. Meanwhile, people are starting to use the kitchen as both the primary eating room and the hub for entertaining. This means many consumers are paying more attention to how aesthetically appealing their appliances are. Even if it isn't that important to you, keep in mind that it is likely to make a difference to potential buyers should you ever want to sell your house.
In general, most new appliances are much quieter than ones made only a few years ago. If you have an older dishwasher, for example, you'll be amazed at the quiet hum of the new machines. Many machines now come with a decibel rating to help you compare noise levels. If this information isn't displayed on the visible labels, ask the salesperson to check the manufacturer's literature, decibel differences of ten or less are not likely to be noticeable.David Hollies is a remodeling industry educator and consultant. He is also the founder of Washington D.C.-based Home Connections, Inc.