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.
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.”
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.
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.
Before the sale
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.
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.
Bring 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.
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.
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!
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).
Even my phone’s been ringing with people who want to know how to get money back for purchasing new Energy Star appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and washers.
Oh, and freezers.
Yup, freezers count, too. Out of the approximately 25,400 rebates available in the state of Minnesota, 1,999 of them are earmarked for those replacing a freezer. I have only gotten one call about a freezer, which leads me to think people might not realize they’re included in this program!
The rebate for replacing a freezer will earn you $100 if you “demanufacture” (fancy word for recycling) your old one or $50 if you just purchase a new one.
Freezers aren’t the most exciting replacement. Usually they’re relegated to a basement or garage or mudroom or something, so you don’t think about it unless it breaks. But even if it’s working, it could be costing you dearly.
A freezer from before 1993 wastes $35 a year in utility costs. A freezer from the 1980s? That’s setting you back $70 in energy costs annually.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.