This project deals with making the right choices when buying kitchen appliances for your home…..What do I look for when I’m buying a dishwasher, coffee machine or washing machine ? Do I need a separate tumble dryer? How do I buy integrated units? What does the energy rating on my fridge mean? The answers to some of the questions you may have are below:
Buying a dishwasher
An interesting fact is that an average family spends up to 250 hours per year washing up! Why, we ask, when dishwashers are so simple to use. Obviously the dishwasher you need depends on the amount of washing up you do, so before you buy, take a few days just to see how much how much you use at an average sitting. Do not overdo the size of your dishwasher, running a half empty washer is expensive. Space saving worktop dishwashers are a great idea for the smaller family.
Dishwashers actually use less water than washing up by hand so used properly they are environmentally friendly and can save you money. Dishwashers have several programs and, as with washing machines, the more you pay, the more you get. Programs can include a normal wash, which washes everything at 65 degrees Centigrade and is the norm for most loads. Timed wash; which allows you to take advantage of low cost electricity at night. Economy wash; using the minimum amount of water and power to get your dishes clean. Intensive wash; a very hot wash for pots and pans. Quick wash; for a quick rinse down. Glass wash; obviously for glassware which could damage in very high temperatures.
As with most kitchen appliances, the Eurolabel system is used to determine the efficiency of dishwashers. This is an alphabetical classification from A to G with A being the optimum efficiency. For more details on Eurolabel scroll down to the washing machine section.
When choosing a dishwasher the internal rack is as important as the machine itself. Check that the rack will take the number of plates you use and has space for your pots etc. Racks should be removable, wholly, or in part, to allow for washing bigger items.
Check whether your dishwasher has indicators to tell you if the salt content is low. Dishwasher salt is used to make the water as soft as possible and together with a rinse aid, make the washing up cleaner and able to dry more easily, without smearing, in the machine.
Buying a Tumble dryer
Most tumble dryers have vents leading from them which need to be fitted to a permanent vent outside, or at least a hose which is hung out of the window! These days condenser tumble dryers can be bought which remove the need for a vent pipe. The hot, wet air produced from the heat of the dryer is allowed to condense in the bottom of the machine and this water is then either emptied, or the machine is plumbed into a drain. Condensing machines remove the need for a vent pipe and its associated hole in the wall which allows them to be sited more easily. They are, generally a little more expensive however.
Full size family tumblers usually have a capacity for about 13 lbs or 6kg of washing which cab take a full washing machine load. Smaller versions can be bought which suit people who like to hang out washing which they do not need almost immediately.
A tumbler’s operation is usually timed by turning a dial to the length of time you believe it will take to dry your clothes, however sensor models are available which sense how dry your clothes are and keep going until they are finished.
Buying a fridge, freezer or fridge freezer
Do you need a fridge with a large freezer compartment? Would a fridge freezer suit your needs in a more appropriate way. Think about what you need from a fridge. An ordinary fridge with a small freezer compartment allows you to keep food, which is already frozen, for a limited period of time depending on the rating of the fridge. Only a 4 star rating means you can actually freeze fresh food because the temperature will drop below -18 degrees C. If you need to freeze larger amounts of fresh food you need a freezer or a fridge freezer.
Conventional fridges vary in temperature throughout the inside. They will be cooler at the top than at the bottom. Some larder fridges have a dynamic cooling system within which a cooling fan circulates an average temperature of 4 or 5 degrees. This keeps the fridge at a constant temperature helping keep food cool when the door is open for any length of time. Larder fridges defrost automatically whereas a fridge with an ice box needs to generate more energy as the ice acts as an insulator at the top of the fridge raising temperatures at the bottom and making the compressor work harder. This is only combated by regular defrosting.
Look at your normal shopping contents. Do you need an egg rack because you use lots of eggs and need to get to them easily? What about a salad drawer or wine shelf? Remember that glass shelves, although more expensive than wire racks, will stop any dripping bottles etc from ruining other foods.
Buying a built in coffee machine
No kitchen is complete without a built in coffee machine! Gone are the days of a quick cup of instant with the introduction of wonderful coffees and machines that produce an amazing Espresso or Cappuccino in moments.
Espresso and Cappuccino makers come in two types, pressure machines and pump machines. With a pressure machine the water is boiled in its kettle chamber which builds up pressure and steam. When the pressure is high enough it forces the boiling water through the coffee. A pump machine has a separate tank and a thermostatically controlled boiler. The water is heated to the perfect temperature for coffee between 85 and 92 degrees Centigrade and pumped through the coffee granules.
- Americano: Espresso in hot water
- Cappuccino: One third Espresso, hot milk and frothy milk
- Latte: 1 part Espresso to 6 of hot milk
- Mocha: Hot chocolate with a dash of Espresso
Choosing a washing machine
How often do you use a machine? There is little point in buying a machine costing a thousand pounds if you only use it every two weeks. Ask yourself the following questions in order to get the best idea of what you need. Will it fit the space I have for it? Do I need a front loader or a top loader, How much can I afford? The choice should be based on the answers to your questions, not what the sales person in a shop tells you is a bargain!
A front loading machine is designed to fit under a worktop or even form part of the work surface itself so it is usually a space saver. Generally a front loader will handle more washing than a top loader.
Look also for the different programmes available from a machine. Various brands and models offer differing programmes. Choose the ones to suit your lifestyle. They include; An automatic programme which works out the water needed and the length of wash according to the load you have put in, easy iron options which should induce less wrinkles in the clothes, timed starting to make use of economy 7 electricity, short wash cycles, programs for delicate clothes etc….
All washing machines are given Eurolabel grades for performance. They run from A = Best, to G with E being an average machine. This does not mean that F and G are rubbish, just that they will not give you the best deal in energy efficiency, electrical and water consumption. An AAA grade machine will give you the very best of everything but as you would expect, you will have to pay a little more for it.
Matching washing machines and tumble driers can be stacked on top of each other, saving space and giving a uniform look to your appliances.
Finally, when fitting the waste and water supply for washing machines and dishwashers, fit isolation valves with taps so the water supply can be easily switched off.
All project content written and produced by Mike Edwards