Posts Tagged ‘Appliances’

Warners’ Stellian Warehouse Sale: It’s baa-ack…

March 8, 2010

Warners’ Stellian’s semiannual Extreme Warehouse Sale is less than a week away.

Like before every sale, we’re super slammed getting ready, so I’ll give you the fast 5 Ws (and one H):

What: Hundreds of appliances below cost – including brands that “never go on sale.” Seriously, there are thousands of deals on closeout models, floor models, scratch and dent items, discontinued models and even new, in-box “special buys” we make specifically for this sale. All items come with full factory warranty. Delivery will $75 to the metro area, so take your purchase with you for maximum savings. Professional installation is available for built-in items.

When: Saturday, March 13 from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 14 from 10 to 5.

Where: Warners’ Stellian’s St. Paul Warehouse, approximately 1 mile north of 94 off Dale Street.

Who: Thousands of deal-seeking Minnesotans (and Western Wisconsinites!). We counted about 2,600 “groups” (we don’t count people individually because people usually make purchases as a family/couple) last November. For our part, we’ll have 60 salespeople helping customers select the right product and 60 people helping customers check out, plus more workers helping customers load purchases into their car, directing traffic, etc.

How: We prepare half the year for this sale, and it’s been so successful that manufacturers have gotten behind it and helped us offer deals worth getting excited about.

Why: Because we love you? Yes. But mostly because you love deals. For your friends and family members (and maybe even you) who didn’t get an appliance stimulus rebate reservation, there are deals that will leave just as much if not more cash in your hand — just not in the form of a check from the government.

Related: HOW TO: Shop the Extreme Warehouse Sale like a pro

Outdoor kitchen ideas: Part 2

January 18, 2010

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As Susan Serra, CKD pointed out in Outdoor kitchen ideas: Part 1, it’s easy to choose outdoor kitchen appliances like a geek in an Apple store (my words).

We Minnesotans get so excited when we get to spend time outside that doesn’t involve snow shoveling, it’s hard not to want it all when designing our three-months-out-of-the-year haven.

Be smart and think about your own entertaining and lifestyle needs when considering all the options in outdoor kitchen appliances.

Do you want a second kitchen or simply a spot to grill a burger and grab a beer while enjoying the great outdoors?

Gas grill

The workhorse of an outdoor kitchen, gas grills’ speed and convenience work best for weeknight dinners and impromptu get-togethers. If you’re looking to do more, some brands offer innovative features such as:

  • Searing zone to reach high temperatures (700 degrees!) quickly to give your meat a steakhouse-quality exterior
  • Rear infrared burner to deliver consistent, evenly distributed heat for rotisserie cooking
  • Smoker boxes to fill prepackaged hickory or mesquite chips, which give foods a distinctive, smoky flavor
  • Side burners to prepare sauces and sides like beans or vegetables or to keep food warm until it is ready to be served
  • Lighting to illuminate the cooking surface for late-night grilling

Charcoal grill/smoker

As our own grilling guru Stu Glock (also our rep for Holland Grill and the Big Green Egg) says, “You have two cars. Why not two grills?”

Charcoal grills, smokers  and/or cookers deliver flavor you can’t get in a gas grill — if you have hours to get it. Owners of the Big Green Egg rave about the unique flavor of their ribs, brisket and roasts they get in this ceramic cooker. Viking also makes a ceramic cooker, but with a stainless steel finish.

If you have the time to kick back and just grill, the extra time is definitely worth the flavor.

Warming drawers

Cut down on the running back back and forth from your main kitchen. Warming drawers keep grilled food warm (and sanitary) once prepared and work great for make-ahead dishes from your main oven.

I’d probably end up throwing some towels in mine to keep them cozy after a late-night swim. Now if I only had a pool..

Kegerator/beer tapper

Arguably as important as the grill itself is beer on-demand. Aside from the convenience, an outdoor keg fridge makes an unbeatable conversation (and party) starter. DCS, Viking and Marvel make draft beer dispensers specifically for the outdoors.

Outdoor kegerators come in built-in or freestanding. Again, if I only had a pool...

Wine chiller/beverage center

If you’re more of a wine-o than a beer gal like me, you might consider storing your bottles outside, in the proper wine chiller, of course. Look for models with precise temperature controls, racks to accommodate various bottle sizes and minimum vibration.

This Marvel Wine Cellar holds 54 bottles.

Beverage centers, though less precise in temperature control, make a viable option for combination beer/wine/soda, etc. storage.

Refrigeration

“But I already have a wine fridge!”

But your wine fridge is 55 degrees, remember? Even your beverage center isn’t designed to refrigerate food and condiments. Please don’t keep your barbecue meats in a beverage fridge!

Ice maker

If mixed drinks and soda are more your thing, maybe you’d like an ice maker. Marvel‘s and U-line‘s have UL Listed suitable for outdoor use clear ice makers that store 25-30 pounds of ice.

Patio heaters

Denial: it ain't just a river in Africa. It's an outdoor barbecue in St. Paul in October.

I might not have a pool, but living in Minnesota, you better believe I have a patio heater. Fueled by a the same kind gas tank you use for your grill, these easily extend construction season into early winter (or “fall”).

Refrigerator seal & fridge maintenance

January 13, 2010

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Some people spend as much money on a kitchen as they do a car, yet expect to do no maintenance.

Would you be surprised if your truck engine overheated if you never changed the oil or refilled the coolant? Most also expect to rotate and replace tires and wiper blades.

You might not have spent 13 grand-something on a fridge, but I’m sure you plunked down a good amount. Here are some maintenance tips to help get your return on that investment. See my previous post,  “Ice maker troubleshooting.”

Moisten your gasket

Gasket, seal, "rubber thing" -- whatever you call it, keep it moistened. (Image courtesy Charles & Hudson)

A small amount of condensation on the fridge or freezer is normal, especially during humid weather and summer vacation, if you have kids who don’t know how to keep the refrigerator doors shut.

If you see more condensation than normal, check the seal (or gasket as we appliance nerds call it) for any obstructions and clear them. If there aren’t any, try moistening the gasket with Vaseline. Seriously, it works. If you don’t have any petroleum jelly, I’ve used Neosporin in a pinch (What won’t that stuff do, honestly?).

After applying a thin layer of Vaseline, organize your fridge. It doesn’t have anything to do with the seal, per se, but it will help you find what you need faster, meaning the door won’t be open as long. If Warners’ Stellian installed your fridge, we leveled it to tilt slightly back to encourage the doors to swing shut.

If someone else installed your fridge, consider leveling it in a similar way.

To raise the front of the cabinet, use the front roller leveling screws. To lower the back of the cabinet, use the rear roller leveling screws, if available, on your model.

Clean your coils

New refrigerators have self-cleaning condensers. But if you have an old fridge, you might still have coils that need to be cleaned once or twice a year. Some fancy vacuum cleaners have attachments to suit this purpose. But otherwise, you’ll have to get a coil brush from an appliance parts store.

(If you find yourself driving to an appliance parts store to buy a coil brush, make a detour and buy a new fridge instead because yours is pretty darn old. The energy grid will thank you.)

To clean the coils, remove the base grille and use the brush or vacuum attachment to clean it, the open areas behind the grille, and the front surface area of the condenser.

If you have pets or hairy, shedding family members, take care that the area around the refrigerator stays clear to ensure proper heat exhaust. Otherwise, that thing will be running all the time.

Change the water filter

If you have a water dispenser, you likely have a water filter. Replace it every six months or take direction from your indicator light, if you have one. Or, if odor and odd taste don’t cramp your style, stretch the life of it. But seriously, beyond water quality, an old water filter can cause sediment to build up and cause problems.

There are probably seven different types of water filters. Yours is either is the top back corner of the interior, down in the kick plate, or along the top interior of the fridge. ALWAYS bring your filter into the store when you’re replacing it because we don’t necessarily know the type a filter goes with a model number we looked up in your order from two years ago. We can guess, but it’s still a guess.

After replacing the filter, flush the air from the water system (see how to purge air from the water system animation – though 4 gallons seems like overkill) to prevent dripping from the dispenser.

Defrost your freezer?

Your freezer is probably “frost-free,” meaning it defrosts itself. You may have purchased an all-freezer unit that is manual defrost for storing foods long-term, but that’s another blog post (or e-mail me).

Just take care to clean your fridge and freezer every month.

Your turn: What did I miss?

Share your tips in the comments.

MN residents: You can get WI stimulus money — now!

January 5, 2010

"Wisconsin Welcomes You"...to get our state stimulus money!

It seems strange, but stick with me here. If you are a Minnesota resident with a second home or cabin in Wisconsin, you also qualify for Wisconsin’s appliance stimulus rebate for appliances you purchase for that property.

Call our Woodbury store at (651)714-9790 to order. We deliver free to Hudson with a $499 purchase and to several other Wisconsin cities for $49.95. Other deliveries can be negotiated, and we ship appliances nationwide.

Wisconsin’s program began Jan. 1. Here are the details of the program, as they differ greatly from Minnesota’s program (which doesn’t start until probably March 1):

  • With mail-in application, rebates available on Energy Star-rated
  • Limited amount of rebates available on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Purchases cannot be made before Jan. 1
  • Applications must be submitted with proof of purchase within 30 days
  • Unlike in MN, rebates aren’t limited to one per household
    • Additional rebates government/utility co. rebates can be found at http://www.dsireusa.org (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency)
  • Refrigerators and freezers must be recycled to qualify for a rebate (many utility companies have programs instituted for appliance recycling)
  • Rebates only offered on existing homes, not new construction

If the program runs out of money before February 2012 (I would be shocked if it didn’t), Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy — which is administering the program — will announce a new end date. From its website: “All qualified purchases made prior to the program end date and submitted within the required time frame will receive a Cash-Back Reward.” Allow 6-8 days to receive a check.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jason-riedy/ / CC BY 2.0

Steam dryer: Not just hot air

December 31, 2009

Iron-a-aphobia? Don't worry, there's help.

Tell me if this has happened to you: You work all day, come home for a quick wardrobe change for a night out (especially on a day like New Year’s Eve) only to find your dress or dress shirt more crinkled than an Ore-Ida — and you don’t have time (or refuse) to iron!

What now? Hang it on the door and turn on a hot shower? I think we’ve all tried that.

Electrolux EIMD551RR, though I prefer to use its middle name, "Lifesaver."

Now I just toss it in my Electrolux steam dryer for a refresh and throw it on 15 minutes later. This one has rescued me so many times.

In steam refresh cycles, a small amount of water is sprayed into the dryer drum after several minutes of tumbling with heat. The dryer will continue to tumble at regular heat for the duration of the cycle to reduce wrinkles, static and odors in fabrics. Of course, some fabrics release wrinkles easier than others, but I like prepping heavily wrinkled clothes with a steam cycle so they’re easier to iron.

But steam dryers aren’t just for procrastinators/wrinkled-clothes wearers.

LG DLEX2501V

The LG TrueSteam Dryer (among others) has a SteamSanitary™ cycle, which is NSF certified to eliminate 99.3% of 3 common infectious bacteria. Think of all those decorative pillows, comforters and children’s toys and stuffed animals that can’t be washed, but need to be sanitized for allergy-sufferers and to ward off cold/flu this season.

Whirlpool WED9500TW

While not cheap, steam models aren’t too much of upgrade from a comparable model, money-wise. The LG steam electric dryer  in white is on sale for $999 until Monday, Jan. 4, and the Whirlpool steam electric dryer pictured to the right is on sale for $799 while quantities last.

Next week, I’ll be in hot water…talking about steam washers. OK, no more bad idioms until the New Year, I promise :) .

Photo credit (wrinkled shirt): http://www.flickr.com/photos/foshie/ / CC BY 2.0

Why do front-load washers take so long?

December 23, 2009

Many customers seem confused when we explain that front-load washing machines need an hour minimum for a normal wash cycle.

Luckily, for times when I can't wait an hour and a half for a clean outfit (sports uniforms, anyone?), I have the 18-minute wash, 18-minute dry feature from Electrolux (though my laundry room looks nothing like this). In a word: lifesaver.

But front-load laundry machines profess great water and energy savings. How does a longer cycle reconcile with such efficiency?

First, front-load washers don’t fill deeply with water, only to dump it all out a short while later. Rather, they pump in a minimal amount of water (some models use sensors to determine the size of the load).

Water continuously filters in and out throughout the cycle, meaning the water stays clean the entire time. Top-load washers fill with water until the clothes float, and then the clothes just sit in that water for the entire cycle.

Also, heating the water often takes longer in a front-loader. A sanitation wash cycle takes about two hours. But you can be assured the hotter temperature eliminates all the cold and flu germs and dust mites congregating in your clothing and linens.

The good news is laundry still takes the same amount of time because dry times have been cut in half. We used to wait for the hour-long drying cycle to finish long after the washer was done. But now, because front-load washers extract so much water during the spin cycle, the average dryer cycle lasts only about 30 minutes.

Or for me, the skinny jeans (which I refuse to put in the dryer because they may get a bit too skinny) I hang on a drying rack easily dry by morning.

Minnesota’s appliance stimulus rebate program approved

December 15, 2009

The U.S. Department of Energy finally approved Minnesota’s “Trade In & Save Appliance Program” (aka Dollars for Dishwashers, Cash for Appliances, etc.) with a target start date of March 10, 2010.

Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the program will offer approximately 25,000 rebates for consumers who buy an Energy Star-rated replacement for the following appliances:

Energy Star appliances use 20 percent less energy than the standard model. As shown above, refrigerators and freezers must be recycled to receive the full rebate amount. The reason for this is to encourage consumers to take these energy-suckers completely off the grid, rather than using them as spares or selling them. A fridge purchased in the 1990s carries more than double the energy costs of a new Energy Star model.

Warners’ Stellian recycles (and delivers) appliances for free with minimum purchase ($499).

Rebates are limited to one per household and cannot be applied to previous purchases. Check the Energy Star Web site and the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) for additional rebates.

Don’t overlook the money saved by replacing sooner. A refrigerator, washer and dishwasher bought in the ’90s cost $207 more per year in utility costs than current, energy-efficient models.

Warners’ Stellian has officially partnered with the state Office of Energy Security to offer in-kind services that help keep administrative costs down to ensure the maximum amount of rebates for the approximately $5 million our state will receive.

Sign up for our “Cash for Appliances” e-mail list and we’ll keep you informed of the latest state and federal news about the rebate program.

To sign up, simply e-mail me at stimulus@warnersstellian.com with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

Cleaning oven glass

December 9, 2009

Noticed some streaks and stains on the inner oven glass that weren’t there before?

(fig. 1)

Hold up! Step back from your Jump To Conclusions mat — it’s not a bad seal.

Several vents (highlighted in fig. 1) open directly into the inner door to vent the hot air away from the glass. And because of their proximity to the stove top and its mess, people often spray cleaner near the vents that sneaks inside the door and drips down, causing streaks and stains.

What to do?

Our smart and helpful customer service rep Amy cautions you against pulling the door apart yourself.

Officially, if it bothers you enough, pay a service company to clean it — otherwise you’ll void the warranty, she said. Unfortunately, this aesthetic nuisance falls outside of warranty coverage because the customer did it herself.

Anatomy of an oven door

But if your range is older than 10 years — and in some cases, five years — warranty is no longer a concern.

So, unofficially, you can check out this HOW TOs on espares.com and find more on fixya.com — at your own risk.

Don’t get all “Red Green” inspired and duct tape the vents, like one customer informed Amy he’d being doing. That hot air needs to go somewhere.

A better way to prevent stains between the glass is to not spray near the vents. Better yet, spray cleaners directly onto the rag, rather than the range.

10 tips for making the most of your kitchen on Thanksgiving

November 24, 2009
Thanksgiving cooking can be confusing. Especially for those who don’t cook often*. Here are some ways to use what you already have to make the day go a little smoother.

1. Calibrate your oven

Your oven’s temperature could be off, causing you to over- or undercook. If you still have it, check your manual for specific instructions on making sure that your oven’s 350 degrees is really 350 degrees.

EHow’s guide “How to Calibrate an Oven” is also good if you ditched your literature.

Use all three racks without rotating.

2. Load up your oven with convection baking

Many people buy a convection oven with holiday cooking in mind, and then forget to use it! If you have true convection or settings that allow multi-rack cooking (the bake and broil element shut off after the preheat), you can put a dish on each rack without having to rotate them.

Just remember to set the temperature 25 degrees below what’s recommended for normal baking.

3. Use convection — in your microwave

If you have a convection microwave, you have a second oven. The 25-degrees-below-normal-bake-temp rule applies here, too.

4. Think beyond popcorn

Many microwaves come with a sensor you can use to automatically adjust cooking power and temperature based on the amount of moisture in the food. Try it on meat, potatoes and vegetables to save time and ensure a perfect dish. Again, check your manual for instructions of how to use your model’s specific features.

Allow 24 hours for an icemaker to refill.

5. Make extra ice

Empty out your icemaker bin into a large, plastic bag and keep it in the freezer 24 hours before your guests arrive. By the time they do, you’ll have a bin full of ice and a cheap refill once that’s gone.

6. Turn on the oven light

The temptation to open the oven and check on your goodies is high, but the temperature won’t be if you do. The oven temperature can drop 25 degrees in just seconds, increasing cooking times and wasting energy. So keep that door shut, already!

7. Remember that meat probe? How ’bout that warming drawer?

Hopefully just reading this jogs the memory of that stuff you have but never remember to use. Many ranges now come with metal probes to stick into a turkey or ham to monitor the temperature, which should hit 180 degrees.

(Note: The probes usually come packaged next to the manual, so they’re probably waiting for you in that same junk drawer filing system where you left them.)

And, are you sure that drawer under the oven you use to store pots is only for storage? Some range models include warming drawers, which work great to keep early bird guests’ dishes ready while you finish up the bird.

8. Match pots and pans to burners

Having a tiny pot on a large burner wastes energy and a big post on a tiny burner slows cooking time. Cook smart on the stovetop to shorten cooking times and save energy/money.

For those who "only know how to grill" comes a way to contribute to holiday cooking. (Ha!)

9. Fire up the grill

Grilled turkey tastes great and frees up your oven for everything else. Get creative and use your grill for potatoes, biscuits and pie — and I can vouch for the deliciousness of pie made on the grill.

(Bonus tip: We all know those who don’t cook, but only grill. Now there’s no excuse to not help!)

10. Adjust your refrigerator’s shelves

Remember that shelves can be moved up and down to fit tall items like 2-liter bottles and frozen turkeys. And consider making a short shelf for platters that can’t be stacked. That way you won’t be wasting all that space above the trays.

I’d love to hear more tips if you have them. I just really like the number 10.

*Nearly 4 out of 10 say they use their oven only once a week or less throughout the year, according to a poll of about 1,100 Angie’s List members.

DAJTNVKMETZH

Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not drying

October 21, 2009

So you go to take your dishes out of the dishwasher and they’re completely wet. Sound familiar?

howtodrydishes

If your dishwasher has a stainless steel tub, you probably need rinse aid. Sure, your dishwasher could be the best, highest-efficiency model. It still needs rinse aid. Rinse aid helps dry dishes by reducing water droplet formation. (Note: If you have a plastic tub and your dishes aren’t drying, you might need a service call on the heating element.)

If you’ve added rinse aid to your dishwasher and your dishes still come out wet, check if you’re washing a lot of plastic dishes. Sometimes these can exacerbate the problem. Have you ever noticed that plastic dishes often come out with droplets of water while all your glass and porcelain dishes are completely dry? That’s because plastic does not hold heat the same way regular dishes do.

Why does that matter? It throws the dishwasher off its drying mojo. Here’s how the dishwasher drying process works:  The final rinse water reaches a very high temperature (at least 157 degrees on European models) — and the final rinse temperature is really important to the drying process. By now, the dishes ideally hold a lot of heat. But the stainless steel tub (hopefully you purchased a model with a SS tub) is a cooler surface, so the moisture collects on the tub and condensation naturally occurs.

Other things that throw the dishwasher off its drying mojo:

  1. Washing all the dishes before you load them. Scrape off large food pieces, but just say no to washing your dishes before you wash them! If the dishes are clean, your smart dishwasher cuts the wash time down. If this happens, the dishwasher may not have time to get hot enough. The water is heated to more than 40 degrees higher than the hot water being piped in. There are other reasons to not wash your dishes before you wash them, but I’ll save those for another post…
  2. You’re using the light or quick wash cycles for everyday stuff. It won’t usually wash or dry as well.
  3. You’re not using rinse aid (shame on you). Rinse aid is a key element in drying and it will keep everything sparkling as well.

So retire that dishtowel, OK?

Photo credit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/weelakeo/ / CC BY 2.0

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