Do you often forget what you have in your refrigerator when you’re out grocery shopping? Have no fear! There will soon be an app for that. LG is developing technology that will allow you to investigate the contents of your fridge from your smartphone. The Southwest Journal recently interviewed Carla Warner, vice president of Warners’ Stellian, to get up to speed on the latest in high-tech home appliances.
SWJ: What are some interesting/noteworthy trends in appliances you’re noticing these days?
Steam is popular for both cooking and cleaning. Steam ovens prepare anything from fish and veggies to baked goods in an efficient and healthy way.
For cleaning, steam washing machines sanitize clothes and linens, which is great for families with babies and elderly or allergy and asthma sufferers. These groups also appreciate a steam dryer, which can eliminate dust and allergens from nonwashable items like decorative pillows and stuffed animals.
Stainless continues to be the most popular finish, but many choose to integrate appliances like their refrigerators and dishwashers with their cabinetry. The result is a “hidden” almost furniture like look.
Also, aside from just increasing their capacity (bigger fridges, laundry and ranges), consumers also look for appliances that multitask, like double oven ranges and convection microwaves.
What are the most innovative, high-tech appliances out there now?
Samsung is coming out with a four-door refrigerator in April that will dispense sparkling water at the push of a button. Using the same control panel you would use to select between water or ice, you can select up to three levels of carbonation for sparkling water. It uses a standard SodaStream 60L CO2 cylinder that rests in a small, concealed area inside the left refrigerator door.
Though induction has been around since the 1970s, the super-efficient method of electric cooking that uses magnetic fields to directly heat cookware didn’t catch on until the last several years.
Thermador’s Freedom induction cooktop takes that technology one step further by recognizing the cookware size, shape and position to deliver heat without the boundaries of burners. Basically, the entire surface can work as a burner. Think of heating the entire surface of your roasting pan when making gravy or being able to accommodate side by side griddles for breakfast preparation.
Many new appliances allow internet integration. Samsung’s WF457 laundry can be remotely operated using a smartphone app, which can also diagnose operation issues on your washer and dryer. LG is coming out with a line of “smart” kitchen appliances that allow you to search the contents of your fridge from your smartphone (think grocery shopping). Its LCD touchscreen gives you access to online grocery shopping, calendars, photos — even Pandora. The new LG range lets you monitor the cooking progress from your smartphone as well.
If you can’t afford to replace an existing appliance, do you have some tips to keep common appliances working more efficiently?
The best tip is the most simple: keep them clean.
Cleaner burners useless fuel. Cleaner dryer vents and refrigerator coils don’t need to work as hard. Running vinegar through your dishwasher and washer every month can improve their performance.
What are the benefits of investing in an Energy Star appliance?
Often the investment to upgrade to an Energy Star appliance is minimal and the payoff is quick. Though they often cost more upfront, you can expect great overall savings throughout its lifetime. For instance, we estimate that the money you’ll save by replacing your washer with a new, Energy Star washer will pay for the new dryer to match it.
How do you know when it’s better to replace an appliance versus fix an existing one?
That’s the preference of the person writing the check. It will likely vary by appliance type, but generally speaking you should replace when repair costs rise to 50 percent of the replacement cost or if the product is more than eight years old.
Microwaves are the exception, though. Because of their shorter shelf life and replacement cost relative to repair, we tend to recommend replacing over repair.