Posts Tagged ‘refrigerator’

Replace your working appliances and deduct it from your taxes!

May 26, 2010

Have you ever had a refrigerator konk out on you in the middle of the summer, leaving you without one for days?

If you have, you know what a pain it is to be without something as essential as a refrigerator. And you know what a relief it is when you have a working refrigerator again.

But can you imagine trying to raise a healthy family without a refrigerator at all? Or without a stove?

Can you imagine barely scraping together the time and money to wash your childrens’ clothes at the laundromat so they don’t have to face the other school children in a soiled shirt?

If you replace your working appliances over the next five days, these are the kinds of people you will help.

Beginning tomorrow, when you buy a new refrigerator, stove, washer or dryer from Warners’ Stellian, we’ll help you donate the clean, working appliances you are replacing to Hope For The City.

If Hope For the City accepts your appliance donation (see criteria below), you’ll receive a tax-deductible donation form for up to $200 (see graphic to the left). If it’s not accepted, Warners’ Stellian will still recycle your appliance free of charge.

Hope For the City is a Minnesota-based nonprofit that collects surplus goods from businesses and distributes them to its partner nonprofits, who in turn give the goods to people in need. (Note: Hope For The City does NOT fulfill requests for individuals, so working through a Hope For The City partner is the best way to get help for someone.)

The 85 partner organizations pretty much touch every type. They serve children and adults in need of food, shelter and medical care. They provide hot meals for hungry children and adults, education for the underprivileged, job skills for the unemployed, support for senior citizens, medical care for the sick, and educational and social programs for youth.

Basically, these people really need your donation. It’s not a matter of replacing for these worthy recipients — It’s a matter of having.

In the past year alone, Warners’ Stellian and its customers have donated over 500 appliances to Hope For The City. Aside from this promotion, we send a set of appliances over to the nonprofit weekly.

>>See complete details

Are stainless steel appliances an environmental no-no?

May 19, 2010

Stainless steel has become the standard finish for many when replacing kitchen appliances.

The growing popularity of commercial ranges like Viking and Wolf ranges introduced stainless steel to the kitchen.

And soon homeowners wanted to coordinate the clean, contemporary look with refrigerators, dishwashers and microwaves.

But environmental concerns wisely also influence purchasing decisions today.

The Star Tribune’s Fixit columnist, Karen Youso, posed the question of whether stainless steel appliances should worry eco-conscious consumers.

Her answer, happily, is no:

Stainless steel can be — and is — recycled. (According to the International Stainless Steel Forum, new stainless-steel products are made from about 60 percent recycled stainless.) Its alternative, enameled steel, also is recyclable, so stainless steel isn’t significantly better or worse for the environment.

But materials aren’t all that important when trying to determine how earth-friendly home appliances are. What matters most is energy efficiency, said Lise Laurin, founder of EarthShift, a Vermont company that works with corporations and institutions on sustainability.

Of course, we recycle replaced appliances for free on most purchases, so you can feel comfortable about upgrading to stainless steel. Just make them Energy Star appliances.

Pode olhar I na sua geladeira?

March 31, 2010

OK, so I couldn’t actually say this phrase in Portuguese, but I sure asked to look at plenty of European’s refrigerators — in English.

I spent the last couple weeks in Portugal visiting a friend (we also traveled to France and Italy), and along the way I invaded the privacy of every kitchen appliance I came across; Rita’s friends wondered why I was so interested in their dishwashers. Why wouldn’t I be?

My apologies for the lack of photos, but I don’t own a camera and decided snapping cell phone pictures of near strangers’ kitchens could wear out my welcome.

So here’s what I learned about Europe, through the lens of appliance blogger.

“Dryers are for emergencies”

That’s what my friend Rita said when showing me the Bosch laundry pair installed under the counter in the kitchen of her house, which would be considered a condo in the states. Nearly all the clothes I washed during my trip were hung on the balcony to dry and later ironed — even the towels! All over Lisbon, clothes hung from lines strung out windows and across balconies. It was quite the sight.

A picture from Flickr of the conventional clothes-drying technique in Lisbon.

In my world of Midwest blizzards and crumpled clothing, irons are for emergencies and a steam Electrolux dryer a lifesaver.

Food must be fresh

Rita’s mother went to the market nearly every day for produce, bread, fish and queijo fresco (“fresh cheese”). The 24-inch wide refrigerator gave little space to bottom freezer compartment, which contained frozen vegetables and soups used — again — “only for emergencies.”

Queijo fresco, or fresh cheese, is simply delicious.

At least in the houses I visited, going to the market often was part of the culture. (Then again, so was double parking on busy metropolitan streets.) But without a built-in icemaker (one Siemens brand refrigerator had smart vertical ice cube trays built-in to the front of the freezer drawers) or water dispenser, there’s more room in the refrigerator for eggs. The Portuguese cook with A LOT of eggs, I learned. My favorite use of egg yolks? Pastel de nata.

I often feel like I eat more out of my freezer than my fridge. I love frozen veggies and meats for stir-fry that don’t have to be prepared within days of a grocery shopping trip. Plus, I grew up in a house freezer jams, soups and casseroles. Most of my fruit sits on the counter.

Cooking fits in a small footprint

“Standard” American cooktops and ranges are 30 inches wide. Proud owners of pro-style cooking products, however, enjoy a cooking space up to 60 inches (yes, that’s 5 feet).

Most of the cooktops and ranges I saw were a slim 24 inches, or “apartment-sized” in Warners’ Stellian store speak. Still, I enjoyed multiple-course dinners that — had I not already given the kitchen a good up-and-down — I would’ve never guessed was prepared in such relatively cramped surfaces.

I regret now not asking whether a whole turkey could fit in the oven, easily the benchmark for cooking capacity concerns here in America. Then again, being blond-haired and blue-eyed got me enough strange looks in Portugal.

I do have a devoted love to the kind of appliances I grew up with — the kind my grandpa and dad and aunts and uncles sold. But I can appreciate the way that Europeans do things differently, sometimes even better, maybe.

But I’d rather not give up my dryer.

10 sneaky ways you’re wasting money in your kitchen

March 23, 2010

This is among posts I prewrote to be published in my absence while I took vacation time. I will respond to all comments when I return. Thank you!

You bought your kitchen appliances on sale. Bonus: they’re Energy Star, so you’ll save money in water and energy costs.

But did you ever think that the way you use your appliances can really affect your utility bills?

Here are 10 energy-wasting choices to avoid:

1. Making your dishwasher heat up cold water

Run hot tap water before you run your dishwasher it doesn’t have to heat up the water as long.

2. Setting your refrigerator and freezer too cold

Your fridge section should be set at 37 degrees to 40 degrees, and your freezer section should be set at 5 degrees. A deep freeze should be set at zero degrees.

3. Using an uncovered pot to boil water

Think of all the heat  — and time — lost without a cover on  a pot of heated water. Instead, a cover traps the energy in.

4. Selecting “Heat Dry” on your dishwasher

If you don’t wash a lot of plastic dishes, or lots of dishes in general, choose the “Air Dry” setting or simply prop your dishwasher door open after the rinse cycle.

5. Leaving foods uncovered in the refrigerator

Uncovered foods release moisture, causing the compressor to work harder. Instead, cover all liquids and foods.

6. Prewashing your dishes

Not only will it decrease the effectiveness of your dishwasher detergent, prewashing your dishes is unnecessary and wastes water. Just scrape off the big pieces of food.

7. Ignoring the gasket on your refrigerator

Close your refrigerator door over a piece of paper or dollar bill so it’s half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull it out easily, your door seals aren’t airtight.

Try moistening the gasket with a thin layer of Vaseline, which should create a better seal. If that doesn’t do the trick, you might need to replace the gasket altogether.

8. Cooking with dirty burners and drip pans

Clean burners and drip pans will reflect the heat better, cooking your food faster and saving you energy.

9. Placing small pans on bigger burners

Match pans to the size of the element. Otherwise, you’re using energy to heat a bigger burner only to let it escape around the sides of the smaller pot or pan.

10. Barely stocking your refrigerator

It seems backwards, but a full refrigerator holds temperature better than a poorly stocked refrigerator. Just don’t pack food so tight as to block the airflow.

HOW TO: Shop the Warners’ Stellian Warehouse Sale like a pro

March 10, 2010

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This blog post, originally published last November, remains one of my most-viewed posts. So I’m reposting it — with a few edits — because like I say, this ain’t no Macy’s clearance rack.

What is it with us Midwesterners and our deal-bragging? You know: upon receiving a compliment, we gloat about the gasp-worthy low price we got it for — unsolicited. Perhaps it’s because we fancy ourselves pro deal hunters.

But our Extreme Warehouse Sale this Saturday (7-5:30) and Sunday (10-5) is no Macy’s clearance rack. I’m talkin’ big-ticket items at huge discounts: you need to prepare a bit. The savings are so hot, all sales are final.

Luckily for you, I’ve compiled the secrets of the pros — tips that will prepare any appliance rookie for the big league.

WarnersStellian1

Here are some Extreme Warehouse Sale pros, lined up before the doors open.

Before the sale

measuring tape
Don’t be a fool; Use this tool.

Measure your space
Don’t learn the hard way: there is no “standard” in appliance sizes. Use a measuring tape on the available space — not the existing appliance — and write down dimensions to bring to the sale.

Also, measure the width of the doorways and staircases the appliance will need to travel through.

Know your fuel type
You’ll need to know whether you have a gas or electric hookup when buying a dryer, a range or a cooktop.

Consider your hinges
For example, some refrigerators on sale will be left hinge only. Wouldn’t it be terrible to find a great deal on a fridge only to get it home and not be able to open it? Also know what side you want the hinges on a front-load washer and any type of dryer, in case there’s an option.

Do some research
We’ll have more than 2,000 appliances available at the start of the sale, so have something in mind to avoid frustration. The best tip? Know what you like and don’t like about your existing model. Check out our Web site for more ideas on what features are important to you.

If you’re purchasing as part of the Minnesota Trade-In & Save Appliance Rebate Program, check out qualifying Energy Star models.

Get preapproved
You MUST pay for your purchase at the time of sale, though we certainly have financing options to help you pay. Save time by getting approved online at home. Just make sure to bring in your approval slip with your new account number for our files.

Also, even if you’re financing the purchase, you must pay the sales tax at the time of sale.

The day of the sale

Buy a MN rebate-qualified product
If you’re shopping for a refrigerator, freezer, washer or dishwasher to submit a state appliance rebate, let your salesperson know that so they can help you find a qualified Energy Star model.

744336_pick-upBring a hauling vehicle
Usually, we offer free delivery on purchases $499 and above, but this sale is anything but usual. Our warehouse is full of products, so we encourage customers to take their purchases with them the day of the sale. We’ll help you load it up and everything.

If you’re picking and a new refrigerator or freezer as part of the MN rebate program, bring your old refrigerator or freezer for us to recycle as well as your “Proof of Demanufacturing” forms for us to sign.

If you do choose to have it delivered, it’s $75 and you must take delivery within 30 days. Application forms for the state rebate program must be postmarked within 30 days of your rebate reservation date.

Know your schedule
We’ll arrange for delivery and any installation for built-in appliances (available for additional charges) at the time of sale. We’ll call you the day before the delivery with an AM/PM estimate and our crew can call you before they arrive if you need to meet them at your house.

It's a warehouse, not a playhouse. Bring a stroller!

Pack a stroller
Our warehouse is a warehouse. It’s clean and safe, but it’s also big and crowded and without a play area. Strollers work well to keep small children nearby when you’re shopping the selection. We’ll have cookies and water on hand, as well as children’s areas with movies and coloring books near the checkout areas.

After the sale

Submit state rebate application
If you have a rebate reservation or waiting list reservation for a dishwasher or clothes washer, you can send in your application form along with a copy of your receipt immediately after the sale.  Those who purchased a refrigerator or freezer and dropped off their old unit should have our warehouse crew sign their “Proof of Demanufacturing” form and send that in along with their completed application form and receipt.

Those receiving delivery of a refrigerator or freezer for the rebate program should have our delivery crew sign their “Proof of Demanufacturing” form when we haul away their old unit for recycling. That form then should be sent in with the rebate application and receipt.

Receive delivery/install time estimate
You’ll receive a call with an AM/PM estimate the day before your scheduled delivery and/or install.

Apply for manufacturers’ rebates
You could qualify for even more savings by manufacturers’ rebate. Once you receive your product, you can fill in the serial number (the delivery crew can help you locate this) on your rebate forms and submit them promptly, as they expire. Be patient, as rebates can take 12 weeks to process.

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Don't waste your investment because you lack product knowledge.

Read your manual
Knowing your new product can help you save time and improve the quality of your cooking and cleaning. Stow it somewhere memorable to refer to for troubleshooting and general operation questions.

Don’t ignore accessories

If you get a dishwasher, buy rinse aid to help dry your dishes. If you buy a smooth-top electric range, you’ll want cooktop cleaner to keep it looking new. The water filter in your fridge will need to be replaced every six to 12 months. And please, for the sake of your breathing, don’t overstuff your vacuum bags!

Visit my blog
Every Wednesday, I attack the FAQs plaguing our industry. Hard-hitting questions like, “Why is my washer smelly?” and “How do I clean stainless steel?” It’s also an easy way to reach me if you need help. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about the next Extreme Sale!

So you’re on the waiting list: what now?

March 2, 2010

By this morning, rebate reservations for the Trade-In & Save Program (aka Cash for Appliances) had been exhausted, leaving only spots on the waiting list.

Approximately 6,000 rebates each for washers and dishwashers were reserved either by phone or online as well as of 11,400 for fridges and 2,000 for freezers.

So, you’re on the waiting list: what now?

The process looks exactly the same as the process for an actual rebate reservation, except without a guaranteed rebate. You’ll have 30 days to purchase a qualified appliance, arrange for “Proof of Demanufacturing” if you’re replacing a fridge or freezer and postmark your application materials.

The rebate processor will hold received wait-listed applications is the order they are received by mail. They will be opened in this order as needed as additional funds become available and awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Again, no guarantees and no communication from the State Office of Energy Security or the Department of Commerce, but if you’re going to buy anyway, we have nothing to lose. Right now is certainly the time to buy, with oodles of manufacturers’ rebates and Warners’ Stellian’s own sale prices and instant stimulus rebate.

Our sales staff can help you identify the manufacturers’ rebates on your new appliances, but remember to check for possible rebates from your utility company (see dsireUSA.org for a complete list of incentives).

HOW TO: get an appliance stimulus rebate

February 22, 2010

Get ready…

We think the rebates will go quickly...

The rebate reservation system for Minnesota’s Trade In & Save Program (aka Cash for Appliances/Appliance Stimulus) opens in less than a week!

I’ve compiled this “how to” guide with official info and my own words to help you through the process. Please read it in its entirety to minimize confusion.

1. Beginning 8 a.m. Monday, March 1, reserve a rebate by completing the online application form at www.MNApplianceRebate.com or by calling the program’s toll-free number at 1-877-230-9119.

Reservations can be made for one appliance only. Reservations will only be taken for categories (refrigerator, clothes washer, dishwasher or freezer only) with funds still available or if the wait list is open for reservations.

There are only about 11,000 refrigerator rebates; 6,000 rebates each for washers and dishwashers; and 2,000 rebates available for freezers.

2. Print the online application confirmation page. You will need to mail this page after you have completed your purchase with all supporting documents. Phone applicants will receive the application confirmation page by mail.

3. Purchase an eligible ENERGY STAR qualified appliance (browse our selection online, though we carry more than we display online) to replace an existing appliance from a Minnesota retail location. You don’t need to wait to receive your application by mail if you reserved a rebate by phone. You don’t need to bring in your forms at all, actually. Online purchases and purchases made before March 1, 2010 will be disqualified.*

*Our suggestion: shop now. Head to one of our 7 stores (see store locations & contact info) and our sales staff will help you choose the best eligible ENERGY STAR product for your needs and will put what we call a “quote” in our computer system with your product selection and personal information. This is not a purchase, as we’ve taken no payment. If you get your rebate reservation, all you have to do is call your salesperson with your credit card number and schedule delivery.

We anticipate a flood of calls and store visits beginning March 1, so this will hopefully speed up the process for you. We appreciate your patience throughout this process.

4. We will help you arrange to either pick up your appliances or get them delivered (delivery is free to customers in the Twin Cities metro area with a minimum purchase of $499; delivery is free after mail-in rebate to customers in the Rochester area with a minimum purchase of $499) and properly recycle the replaced appliance.

You will receive with your application from the state a “Proof of Demanufacturing” form if you are replacing a refrigerator or freezer. Our delivery crew will sign that when they take away your old appliance. You must submit that form for the increased rebate amounts ($200 for a refrigerator and $100 for a freezer; rebate amounts are half that without “Proof of Demanufacturing” because the state doesn’t want people keeping these units in use).

5. Fill out the submission form completely and make a copy for your records.

6. Mail the required materials within 30 days of the online or phone reservation.

Approved applicants will be receive by mail a rebate check to their residential address, with no exceptions. PO Boxes are not accepted. Rebates are not allowed for commercial endeavors, including owner-occupied rental properties.

Additional incentives

The state rebate can be combined with offers from Warners’ Stellian, manufacturers, utilities, and municipalities.

Warners’ Stellian will be offering an instant $25 rebate on all products eligible for this program, as well as exclusive manufacturers’ rebates.

Combined with possible incentives from your utility (visit this link for specific offers from MN utility companies) and bounty programs (visit this link), the savings can be quite dramatic.

I will take additional questions as much as I am able. Again, we appreciate your patience during this process. We hope that you give us the chance to earn your business.

Good luck!

Cash for Appliances – FAQs about Minnesota’s rebate program

February 1, 2010

Need a new fridge? How about one that comes with $200?

I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing the upcoming appliance stimulus program, which I like to call Cash for Appliances and the State of Minnesota likes to call the “Trade & Save Appliance Program.”

The program’s official site launched today with information about the program. At 8 a.m. March 1, the site will launch a rebate reservation module.

To keep yourself busy until then, consider my frequently asked questions. Add your own questions in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer them.

If you rely on e-mail reminders to keep from missing important events, you’ll love our Appliance Stimulus E-mail Alerts. We’ll make sure you get the best shot at getting a rebate. E-mail stimulus@warnersstellian.com with the subject SUBSCRIBE.

What appliances qualify for a rebate?


How many rebates will be available?

What is Energy Star?

Aren’t all new appliances energy-efficient?

Do I have to spend a certain amount to get a rebate?

How will I receive the rebate?

Are there income limits?

How much money can I get?

When does the program start?

How do I sign up?

How long does the program run?

What if rebate funds run out for the appliance category I want to buy?

Can I get a rebate on a previous appliance purchase?

Is there a limit of rebates per household?

Can I get these rebates in conjunction with rebates from my utility/municipality?

Can renters/rental property owners receive a rebate?

Do I have to turn in my old appliance to be eligible for a rebate?

Why can’t I get a rebate for buying a new dryer or stove?

Where can I buy an appliance to get my rebate?

Do you haul away/recycle my old appliances?

How long will it take to get my rebate?

Why are there two rebate amounts listed under refrigerators and freezers?

Will retailers have the forms I need?

Who administers the rebates?


What appliances qualify for a rebate?

Energy Star-labeled refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and clothes washers will be eligible for a rebate.

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How many rebates will be available?

Approximately 25,450 rebates will be available:

  • 6,035 clothes washers ($200 rebate)
  • 6,005 dishwashers ($150 rebate)
  • 1,999 freezers ($100 rebate with purchase and “proof of demanufacturing”; $50 for purchase only)
  • 11,411 refrigerators ($200 rebate with purchase and “proof of demanufacturing”; $100 for purchase only)

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What is Energy Star?

Energy Star is the government labeling system that helps consumers identify the most energy-efficient products, including appliances. Learn more at www.energystar.gov.

Your sales associate will be trained on the requirements of the program and can help you select an Energy Star appliance that qualifies for a rebate and fits your specific needs.

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Aren’t all new appliances energy-efficient?

To some degree, yes. The federal government holds all new appliances to certain standards. Energy Star labels appliances that go a specific percentage above and beyond that standard, depending on appliance category.

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Do I have to spend a certain amount to get a rebate?

No.

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How will I receive the rebate?

After going through the rebate reservation process and the rebate submission process, you will receive a check in the mail in approximately 30 days.

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Are there income limits?

No.

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How much money can I get?

Households are limited to one rebate, which max out at $200 for a clothes washer or refrigerator with proof that the old refrigerator has been properly recycled. Customers can receive a $150 rebate for a dishwasher or $100 for a freezer with proof of recycling.

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When does the program start?

A rebate reservation website will launch at 8 a.m. CST, March 1, 2010, at which time you can also call 1-877-230-9119.

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How do I sign up?

Beginning 8 a.m. March 1, 2010, you can reserve a rebate on the program’s Web site (www.mnappliancerebate.com) or call a program-specific phone number (1-877-230-9119).

You will need to know what category of appliance (i.e. refrigerator) you will be purchasing.

If funds are available in the category you’ve selected, you will print submission forms (including proof of recycling forms if you’re purchasing a refrigerator or freezer and would like to get the full rebate amount), which carry your unique submission code.

You will have 30 days to purchase, recycle and submit the application forms by mail. Thirty days will be determined by postmark date of forms mailed.

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How long does the program run?

The rebate program will run until March 31, 2010, or until funds are exhausted.

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What if rebate funds run out for the appliance category I want to buy?

A limited amount of people will be placed on a waiting list, by appliance category (i.e. clothes washers).

People placed on the waiting list will need to make a purchase and submit rebate forms as well and could receive a rebate, should another person with a rebate reservation not submit their forms within 30 days or submit forms with an egregious error. Rebates will be awarded to those on the waiting list who’s forms have been received on first-come, first-served system.

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Can I get a rebate on a previous appliance purchase?

No, rebates won’t apply to purchases made previous to March 1.

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Is there a limit of rebates per household?

Yes. Rebates are limited to one per household.

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Can I get these rebates in conjunction with rebates from my utility/municipality?

Yes. Rebates can be received in addition to any other incentives being offered. See the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for additional rebates offered in Minnesota.

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Can renters/rental property owners receive a rebate?

No. Only residential homeowners will qualify for a rebate. Commercial use won’t qualify for the program. See the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for additional rebates offered for multihousing properties and commercial applications in Minnesota.

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Do I have to turn in my old appliance to be eligible for a rebate?

You will be asked to self-certify the recycling of your old washer or dishwasher according to state laws and regulations. Customers who properly recycle refrigerators and freezers can double their rebates from $100 and $50, respectively, to $200 and $100.

The program was designed to take older, inefficient appliances off the energy grid.

Plus, old refrigerators cost A LOT of money to run, so it’s probably not worth it to your energy bill and your conscience.

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Why can’t I get a rebate for buying a new dryer or stove?

Currently, Energy Star only rates refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers and water coolers. Appliance categories such as dryers don’t vary significantly enough from one to another in energy use to be differentiated.

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Where can I buy an appliance to get my rebate?

You must purchase from a Minnesota retailer to qualify for a rebate.

We think you should buy from Warners’ Stellian.

The rebate program is designed to stimulate the local industry. Purchasing from a locally owned, independent retailer such as Warners’ Stellian ensures the most of your dollar stays within the state:

When you spend $1 at a local independent, an average of 68 cents is recirculated into the local economy. In contrast, when you spend $1 at a national chain, only about 43 cents stays at home. If Twin Cities consumers shift even 10% of their spending from chains to locals for one day, the Twin Cities economy gains some $2 million.

We are also an official program partner organization with an expert knowledge of the program. We’ll make the process painless for you.

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Do you haul away/recycle my old appliances?

Yes. We always recycle appliances one-for-one with minimum purchase ($499), and we’ll make the delivery, installation and recycling (or “demanufacturing”) process painless for you. You can trust our professional crews in your own home.

Make sure to keep your proof of demanufacturing form for our delivery crew to sign at time of delivery.

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How long will it take to get my rebate?

You will receive a check by mail within approximately 30 days after your rebate submission forms are received.

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Why are two rebate amounts listed under refrigerators and freezers?

The “proof of demanufacturing” is required to earn 100% of the rebate on either of these two appliances and can be signed by any party picking up an appliance who certifies that it will be taken off the grid and turned over to an appropriate recycler ensuring the appliance will be fully decommissioned and the CFCs recycled.

This is to incent consumers to turn over their old working refrigerator or freezer instead of keeping it or reselling it.

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Will retailers have the forms I need?

No. Retailers can’t print or fill out any forms for you because your rebate reservation carries a unique submission code.

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Who is administering these rebates?

The program, part of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is run on the state level by the Office of Energy Security.

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Customers who properly recycle refrigerators and freezers can double their rebates from $100 and $50, respectively, to $200 and $100.

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.


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