Peace on earth can be gained through more than just good tidings this winter. Collectively, the lack of energy efficiency in the United States wastes an estimated $130 billion dollars every year. As a homeowner, doing your small part to become more energy efficient can make a big difference—both for your wallet and for the planet. By taking mindful steps towards lifestyle habits that are energy efficient, you can take control of your energy savings.
The holidays can be a whirlwind of last minute shopping and unexpected visitors. By organizing your time and preparing in advance for the season, you can spend more time doing what really counts: spending quality time with friends and loved ones.
Here are a few tips to achieve exactly that:
This Thanksgiving, let’s celebrate what we all can bring to the table. Whether you’re picturing a simple and intimate dinner, or a banquet worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting, planning ahead is the best way to guarantee an enjoyable meal. To help you seize the season, here are some last minute hints that will ensure your Thanksgiving is perfect.
Autumn’s abbreviated days and cool temps offer the perfect excuse to retreat indoors for relaxing days and nights. And what better way to make the most of the season than by treating yourself and your family to delectable dishes that delight the palate and warm the soul? The bounties of fall are perfect for hearty, comforting meals that are sure to please.
Tried-and-true fall favorites like pumpkin pie and squash soup are mainstaysin kitchens all over. But this year, try something a little different. Mixing
things up a bit brings new excitement to the kitchen and smiles to the faces of your loved ones.
There’s no better way to keep the winter doldrums from creeping in than by taking advantage of all the flavors fall has to offer!
Here are a handful of ideas to get you started:
Picture the scene: you are visiting an old friend you met in college who recently moved to the area. The new house they bought is roomy, the kitchen is updated, and there’s even a basement. You’re impressed. You step into the backyard, only to find an outdoor sanctuary – which he calls, the “outdoor kitchen” that came with the house. You see a built-in stainless grill that can easily accommodate twenty guests at one time, an outdoor ice maker, beverage center, functional sink, and wait – is that a dishwasher? All of these items are accompanied by a nearby pergola hosting a seating area with an outdoor television.
We are commonly finding the outdoor segment of our business to grow, and we encourage clients who like to cook to consider an outdoor kitchen over traditional areas such as back decks or pools. Outdoor kitchens can add value to your home while creating a space that is both functional and aesthetically beautiful. But where to begin?
Although H&H does not sell fixtures, outdoor surfaces, or displays for outdoor appliances, we can provide you with the tools you need to know when buying outdoor appliances. Our initial piece of advice: what will you be doing outdoors? Is this area for cooking or relaxing (or both)? How many do people would you like to accommodate in this space?
Answer these questions before making any appliance decisions. Once these factors are considered, then you can choose the appliances to fit your needs. Here are some additional factors to thinking about concerning appliances:
- If budget is a concern, ask if older floor models can work. Since the products are built to be used outdoors, wear is acceptable and using floor models may free funds to build additional details into the space (such as an outdoor refrigeration unit like this one from Perlick).
- Pick one focal point. Is this the grill? Or the prep area? The awning? The television? Picking more than one focal area can cause designs to become busy and cluttered.
- Remember that not everything is built to last. Even if buying an outdoor television, you may only get five years out of the unit. Grills and appliances are expected to last much longer, typically 10+ years if maintained properly.
- Decide whether you want a covered or uncovered space. Choose surfaces that are aligned with weather conditions of your area and the elements of exposure the kitchen will endure.
- Ensure you have the proper amount of space for what you would like to do. Often outdoor kitchens take a large amount of space and can make the backyard seem smaller. If you like a spacious green area, go smaller with the outdoor kitchen.
Now, about the appliances. When planning an outdoor kitchen, here is what we suggest for appliances:
2. An outdoor ice maker (DCS makes a nice unit).
3. An outdoor refrigeration unit (like this countertop refrigeration unit by Alfresco).
4. An outdoor dishwasher (optional, adds a bit of pizzazz).
5. A warming drawer (Wolf product link). Although seemingly insignificant, if you cook for larger parties, the warming drawer can keep your food warm and fresh throughout the entire day.
6. A bartending center, like the one below from Alfresco (product link). Because we all know that with the outdoor kitchen come daiquiri’s, mojito’s, and pina coladas!
Once you choose the appliances to fulfill your needs, you will be ready to begin your design. Below are from a customer’s outdoor kitchen area once finished. Thank you to Anthony Porzio from AMP Electric for the photos!
Yup, we said five! When KitchenAid announced the reveal of the KRMF706ESS, staff at H&H had mixed emotions. Five doors is a new look for consumers, and a change in the overall industry. This product provides a newer edge over some of the competitors, with five doors to the unit versus the traditional three or even four door units. The idea of built-in compartmentalization has really taken off over the past few years and KitchenAid is the latest in the trend.
This refrigerator has two standard doors, two drawers (one standard and one that is auto-regulated based on what you indicate is in the drawer – see photo below) and a bottom freezer. Another innovation is the platinum interior, which is a light gray interior versus the traditional white (although you can buy the product with the white interior instead with the model number KRMF606ESS).
The handles are one of the newer features on this refrigerator. Whirlpool (who owns the KitchenAid brand) published a press release about the new design stating:
[“New in 2015, KitchenAid brand is introducing visual and brand design cues that make new KitchenAid® major appliance suites the ideal choice for homebuilders, remodelers and designers who want to offer their clients uniquely identifiable appliances that inspire culinary creativity and meet the highest standards of performance. The new collection will be offered starting in March 2015.
“Discerning homeowners with a taste for the culinary arts have always been confident in choosing KitchenAid appliances because of the brand’s renowned performance,” said Bob Bergeth, general manager of builder sales at Whirlpool Corporation. “The new KitchenAid suite provides builders, remodelers and designers the opportunity to offer their clients appliances with bold, sophisticated, professionally-inspired design that signals from the outside, the high performance found inside.” Among the collection’s stand mixer-inspired design elements are red KitchenAid brand medallions that cap the sturdy bar handles found on its refrigerators, wall ovens and dishwashers, inscribed with “KitchenAid” and “1919” – signifying the year the stand mixer was introduced and the brand wasfounded.] – Whirlpool Corporation, January 2015.
This newer design is yet to be tested. Jenn-Air makes a similar piece with its new Obsidian black interior. However, these pieces are structurally made under the Whirlpool Corporation. There are advantages to the multiple interior spaces. It will be easier to organize food groups, and it will take less energy to open doors for specific items, especially those in the drawers (as the cool air will not be escaping as quickly). Other exciting features include an herb compartment specifically for storing herbs, a soft close on the drawer units, the Preserva® food system, and LED lighting.
What do you think of this new design? Are you sold on it?
It is not uncommon today to find appliances only manufactured abroad. That is why when customers ask us at H&H Appliance Center what brands are American made and manufactured, we recommend Dacor. As a family-owned and operated manufacturer out of California, Dacor introduced many product firsts that revolutionized the kitchen appliance industry forever.
Let’s face it, purchasing appliances is a hefty investment for any household. For those practicing specific customs and faiths, the buying process can often be exhausting. Fortunately, brands have taken notice and have adapted their products over time to meet the needs of their consumers.
At H&H Appliance Center, we strive to meet the needs of our consumers as well, which is why we would like to quickly review some key features of Bosch and Thermador’s Star-K features, including the popular Sabbath Mode. Both Bosch and Thermador carry wall ovens, ranges, and refrigeration that are Star-K compliant. The typical Sabbath Mode enables the baking temperature to stay within 100 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit as dictated by the user.
The new Bosch Benchmark series now allows for two Star-K features: a delayed start and a Sabbath and Holiday setting, each with their own respective temperatures. On the Holiday mode, one is able to raise or lower the set temperature in one of two ways: By raising the set temperature when the actual heat is on and lowering the set temperature when the actual heat is off, or by raising or lowering the temperature by means of a device that accepts the request without response and then fulfills the request after a delay that is greater than 15 seconds.
What should you look for when remodeling your kitchen? If the Star-K rating is vital to your purchase, ask for a list of appliances that meet this need. If you are looking for a specific baking temperature, time hold, or slow-bake, these are typically built into the appliances. However, if you need a specific temperature when baking, ask for a product’s temperature threshold. We compiled a short list of integral questions to alleviate the buying process :
1. Could I see a list of Star-K compliant appliances?2. Does this model offer a Sabbath mode feature?3. How long will this oven stay at this set temperature safely?4. How will I know the oven is properly set to Sabbath mode?5. Does this product fit within my budget?If not, are there any products that are Star-K certified that do?
Unique wedding ideas are quite difficult to come by in the modern age. With a variety of wedding registry options, you have probably heard yourself saying:
“What is a gift I can get this couple that they do not already have?”
“I would like to buy something from the registry, but everything on the registry in my price range is taken!”
“I want to give the couple something that is very functional that will last them years.”
“I want to contribute to their new home, but am not sure what to buy.”
If you have encountered these pre-wedding dilemmas, we are here to help. Have you considered remodeling your kitchen as your primary registry idea? It is a viable option that can prove useful for decades to come. Plus, every time you visit your beautiful new kitchen or open that stainless steel refrigerator you’ve always wanted that dispenses hot water (wow!) you can think about all of your wonderful family and friends who contributed to your new space.
Not sold on the idea? We understand. It sounds strange at first. Plus, buying major appliances can be a lifetime investment. Don’t fret, we’re with you. We are with you through every step of the buying process, which often includes a year-long process (although we can make it as short as you need it to be). From initial design, to cabinetry planning, to appliance research, selection, buying, installment, and follow-up – we are there.
If you are not located in our service area, but like the idea, suggest creating a registry to your local independent appliance retailer. When the time comes, here’s how to start.
- Contact your local independent retailer. Ask if they would be willing to be wedding registry participants. Some smaller retailers may not have the capability for order-ahead payment forms, so this is an integral first step.
- Create a realistic budget for a kitchen. If you are not sure what you need or what would fit into your budget, call us. We at H&H are happy to review what products fit your needs while making your guests’ wallets happy. Here are some initial guidelines to consider when creating a budget:
How to Create an Appliance Budget:
Think of a fair, initial number for your kitchen. List how many pieces you would like to include. Package ideas include:
- Basic: Refrigerator and range/wall oven (2,000+/ can be less, depending on items and colors).
- Mid-Level: Refrigerator, wall oven/range, ventilation (hood), dishwasher, microwave (3,000-4,000+).
- The Upgrade: Refrigerator, wall oven and range, ventilation, dishwasher, wine cooler (custom based on need).
- The Fully Monty: Refrigerator, multiple ovens (steam oven, professional range, wall oven or double wall-oven), full wine refrigerator, dishwasher or multiple dishwasher drawers (custom based on need).
It is typically fair to estimate $50-$75/100+ per guest in receivable gifts. Estimate how much you could receive based on your guest count, and work this into the budget. You can also include the registry if you are having an engagement function or bridal shower where guests may want to send gifts.
Include installation costs in total price. Installation, custom cutouts, built-ins, and flush install are generally extra, and the last thing we want is for you to incur an additional cost that was not planned for. Make sure to bring up installation costs with your independent appliance retailer when talking about a general quote. Have your experienced appliance planner estimate these costs for you.
Remember, upgrades are extra. Now, this is your dream kitchen, so do not skimp if you will eternally look at that white refrigerator and wish it were stainless. However, when you are asking for a price quote, specify the color of the appliances, as stainless versus color often is a different price. Custom panels and handles for refrigerators and dishwashers are often extra and not included (strange, we know), as well. Ask if you can work this into the quote while keeping other costs down.
Ask about package deals. Many brands now offer packages that include free appliances if you buy a certain number. Some examples are Thermador’s 1-2-Free program and Dacor’s cash back program.
Once the budget is set, here are your next steps in promoting your registry.
- Tell your guests about the registry and push its importance. Include information about the registry in the invitations. H&H Appliance Center can create an invitational graphic that matches your invitations, describes the products you like, and tells guests how to participate in the registry (for a small fee). If you do not end up receiving enough gifts to qualify for a specific product, we will create a plan in advance to address this. Make sure any independent retailer you work with has this plan, as this is a unique idea for most small businesses and must be addressed to ensure seamless success.
- Single out one or two products that you really need, rather than a whole kitchen. Guests may be hesitant to add their gift to a registry that only includes very luxurious products. If you are choosing a high-end line, choose only one or two products to put on the registry, not an entire package.
Still not convinced? We would love to schedule a personal wedding consultation with your family if you are considering the idea. Feel free to fill out our contact form or e-mail Nicole@hhappliance.com for more details.