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Photo shared in Business-service

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Posted in Business-service

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Posted in Business-service

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Posted in Electronics

In a home theater installation there are two basic audio options; a sound bar and surround sound. Surround sound systems can be divided further into two categories; 5.1 and 7.1 channels. Here are the basics of each of these systems.

 

Sound bars – Sound bars provide a definite upgrade from TV speakers and provide the additional benefits of having a streamlined profile and being relatively compact. These systems eliminate both the wiring that is a part of surround sound systems as well as the calibration of multiple speakers. Additionally, sound bars present an all in one solution that doesn’t require a subwoofer or a receiver, making them easier on the budget than surround sound systems. These systems tend to work best in smaller spaces that are less demanding in terms of audio output or in rooms where an array of speakers will disrupt the aesthetics of the space. The biggest disadvantage of sound bar systems is that they can’t deliver the immersive audio of surround sound systems, especially for larger home theaters.

1 channel systems – 5.1 has been the surround sound system of choice for the last twenty years. These systems deliver solid audio performance in regular room-sized home theaters, delivering surround sound with 5 speakers and a subwoofer. The center channel speaker, which can be placed directly above or below the screen, anchors the sound by broadcasting the video’s dialog as well as on-screen sound. The front channels are located on the left and right sides of the screen, and provide directional audio as well as the video’s soundtrack music. The surround channels are located on the left and right sides of the room, usually slightly behind the seating arrangement. These speakers broadcast directional and off-screen sound as well as back to front audio. The subwoofer channel is used to set the baseline for the audio by broadcasting the lower frequencies in the video presentation as well as musical bass tones.

1 channel systems – These audio systems include all the components of 5.1 systems with a couple of added modifications. In a 7.1 system, speakers are added to the rear of the home theater, which allows for audio to be split between the side channels and the speakers at the back of the theater. These systems provide depth and accuracy to the audio for a truly immersive experience.

While sound bars are extremely popular, they work best in smaller home theaters. As the space gets larger, going with a 5.1 or 7.1 channel system will be the best choice to deliver a movie theater-like audio experience.

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Posted in Electronics

If you are trying to determine the best HDTV screen size for your household, there are a variety of factors to consider, including:

 

* Viewing distance – While a huge screen may deliver a sensational experience in the showroom, you’ll want to purchase a TV that is sized to optimize the picture for viewers in your home. Determining an appropriate size for your TV starts with a determination of the distance (in inches) from the screen to where viewers will be seated. The minimum screen size will be the result of dividing this distance in inches by 3. To determine the largest recommended screen size, divide by 1.5. For example, calculating the smallest screen size for seating that is 12 feet (144 inches) away from the screen would be the result of dividing 144 by 3, which equals 48 inches. Dividing the distance by 1.5 would result in a maximum recommended screen size of 96 inches.

* Seating angles – The configuration of seating can have a major effect on the viewing experience, especially if the seats on either side sit at hard angles. If this is the case, going with a screen closer to the maximum recommended size for viewing distance can reduce distortion. If your budget calls for the purchase of an HDTV at the smaller end of the size range, plasma technology will deliver a better picture at hard angles than LED/LCD models.

* The number of people watching TV – Being twelve feet away from a 48 inch screen in a bedroom may deliver a completely different experience than the same configuration in the living room due to the number of people watching TV. Going bigger makes sense if the neighborhood comes over to watch football games, while a smaller screen will likely be the better choice for one or two viewers, especially in a smaller space.

 

Keep in mind that while a showroom environment is ideal for the largest HDTV screens, the best choice will be contingent on a variety of specifics in your home. By following these steps for optimal viewing, you’ll be able to buy a TV that fits its environment and delivers a great experience, whether there is one person or half of the neighborhood in the audience.

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Posted in Electronics

The single feature that defines a Smart TV is internet connectivity. Through this access, these sets can offer a number of web-based services that go beyond the traditional television-watching experience, including streaming video from services such as Netflix, interaction on social media platforms and web browsing. While operating a Smart TV is relatively simple, optimizing the capabilities of your set will require a few extra steps.

 

* A wireless and/or Ethernet connection – These connections facilitate access to the web. A hardline (Ethernet) connection will connect the TV to the router but may not be the best choice if there is a distance between the two components that requires a long cable. The biggest advantage of an Ethernet connection is that heavy transmissions, such as streaming movies, are less likely to go into “buffer” mode. A wireless connection will offer more flexibility in terms of the location of components, but may not deliver data with the uniformity of a hardline.

* Remote versus smart phone or tablet control – Smart TVs can be operated using a remote control to access a variety of menus, but optimizing the web experience will may require control via a smart phone or tablet. These devices can be configured to the TV by downloading manufacturer-specific apps which facilitate remote control capabilities as well as providing a keyboard for browsing and social network interactivity.

* Learning the apps that are available on Smart TVs from different manufacturers – Smart TVs have their own stores with apps that are either free or available for purchase. Apps can differ widely between manufacturers, so if you’re addicted to a particular game or are looking for a specific streaming video service, do some research to discover what is available on each model.

* Software upgrades – You have probably seen upgrades from the likes of Adobe, iOS and/or Microsoft while using your computer, and your software loaded Smart TV will offer more of the same. Staying abreast of these upgrades can ensure that patches, fixes, and enhancements enable peak performance from your Smart TV.

 

The convergence of the web and TV offers an incredible array of services. Optimizing these services is a matter of taking these extra steps with your Smart TV, which will take your viewing and interactive experiences to the next level.

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Posted in Electronics

After a quick look at a Blu-ray player, many people assume that the differences between the new players and DVDs are negligible, much in the way that Betamax and VHS formats forced consumers to guess which version would become the industry standard. While the battle between taped video formats pitted two technologies that delivered essentially the same result, the difference between Blu-ray and DVD players is more evolutionary in nature with Blu-ray being the next step in disc-based video.

Blu-ray technology has several advantages over the DVD technology that it will eventually replace. These advantages include:

 

* Resolution that synchronizes with HDTVs – Blu-ray players have a resolution of 1,920 x 1080, which offers more pixels for the highly detailed pictures that are now available on HDTVs. In fact, improved video-compression in Blu-ray players delivers better contrasts and colors than direct transmissions via cable and satellite in many cases.

* Better audio – In addition to delivering a better picture, the 50GB storage capacity of Blu-ray discs versus 8GB on DVDs facilitates high resolution audio options like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, both of which provide sound at the quality level of the studio master for each video.

* Wi-Fi connectivity – Blu-ray players offer Wi-Fi connectivity, which can save thousands of dollars versus the purchase of an internet-ready TV.

* 3-D – Advances in 3-D technology are encouraging movie and television studios to increase their 3-D offerings. Blu-ray players can be purchased as 3-D ready or capable of playing 3-D video after a firmware upgrade.

 

One of the biggest issues of changing video technologies is the necessity of replacing the existing video format with the new one, like switching out VHS tapes for DVDs. Blu-ray players have this challenge covered as well, as they are able to play DVDs in addition to Blu-ray discs. Lastly, the rapid evolution of the video experience encompasses far more than just Blu-ray players. As HDTVs proliferate and audio systems provide studio quality sound, watching videos transmitted through the limited capabilities of DVD player will deliver a subpar experience versus the full potential of a Blu-ray player.

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Posted in Electronics

Home theaters can either be designed to reach their full potential with detailed video images and enveloping audio in a comfortable space, or fall short of those objectives. Here are 3 moves to set up an outstanding home theater.

Buying the best screen size for the room – When it comes to HDTV screens, bigger is better but only up to a point. A TV screen can be too large in two ways; it can be out of scale with the dimensions of the room and it can result in a diminished viewing experience. While the focus of a home theater will naturally be on the screen, a set that is too big (or too small) will look out of place. In terms of picture quality, going too big can overwhelm an audience that is sitting too close, show pixelated images, and/or lose detail at the far edges of the screen. The best way to determine whether a specific HDTV is right for your home theater is to multiply the diagonal width of the screen by 1.5 for the minimum seating distance and by 2.2 for the maximum. For example, if you’re considering a 64 inch screen, the minimum seating distance would be 8 feet (64 x 1.5 = 96 inches). The maximum distance would be just less than 12 feet (64 x 2.2 = 140.8 inches). If your seating area is within this range, a 64 inch screen would be an appropriate width. These calculations provide for some flexibility of screen sizes within the range of seating distances as well, meaning that a 70 inch screen in the example used above would work within the same parameters, as long as the minimum screen/seat distance is greater than 8.75 feet.

Making an investment in the audio system – Amazing picture quality on the screen can deliver an immersive video experience, which necessitates enveloping audio to make the audience feel like they’re part of the action. There are two primary types of audio configurations that provide a surround sound experience, referred to as 5.1 and 7.1 systems. A 5.1 system will have three speakers and a subwoofer at the front of the home theater and a surround sound speaker on both sides of the seating area. A 7.1 system has the same foundational components as 5.1, with two additional speakers at the rear of the theater.

Controlling the environment in the theater – The best home theaters offer the capability to control the room’s environment in two ways; light and temperature. When you’re setting up your home theater, take all the necessary steps to control light from the windows and from entryways to the space. Because controlling light often results in closing off the room, make sure that there is enough cooling capacity, especially if your home theater will be hosting larger groups of people.

The best home theaters make the audience part of the action. By making these 3 moves you can ensure an immersive experience in a comfortable environment every time.

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Posted in Electronics

Blu-ray players, with their variety of features, are quickly becoming one of the most important components of home entertainment systems. Here are 6 features that can optimize your viewing experience while also adding options including internet access, music, photography and more.

Wi-Fi – Blu-ray players that are internet ready can be “hardline” connected via an Ethernet cable, which can limit options for locating the player or require additional wiring if there isn’t already a connection in place. Having Wi-Fi allows for the player to be placed anywhere, as long as the signal is strong enough. Wi-Fi “capable” Blu-ray players have wireless components built in and are ready to go, while Wi-Fi “ready” players will require the purchase of additional hardware to connect to the web.

Streaming – This feature broadens the number of video options and reduces the need to purchase Blu-ray discs by enabling services like Netflix and CinemaNow, as well as access to sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.

Surround sound capability – Blu-ray players are equipped with multi-channel sound, but for an immersive home theater experience, a player that can be integrated with a multi-channel technologies like Dolby TrueHD or Digital Theater Systems (DTS) Master Audio can deliver up to eight channels of uncompressed audio that rivals the sound quality of movie theaters.

Adjustable picture – This feature, which allows for viewers to select between screen ratios of 4/3 and 16/9, is becoming more standardized in Blu-ray players. The ratio adjustment is best used for discs that aren’t formatted for wider screens which, without being adjusted, will have black areas above and below the picture.

BD-Live – The BD-Live feature connects to the web to provide firmware updates for the player as well as additional content related to specific Blu-ray discs. This content can include additional scenes, different camera angles, commentary, etc.

DLNA – The Digital Living Network Alliance is an interface standard that facilitates the transmission of music, images and other content that exists on compatible media servers to the Blu-ray player.

At this time, Blu-ray is the only format for high definition audio and video. If you’re in the process of choosing a Blu-ray player, be sure that these 6 features are included to optimize your Blu-ray experience.

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Posted in Electronics

Power surges can be caused by a variety of factors but, regardless of the specific reason behind the event, the outcome is usually the same; excess power flowing into a home’s electrical circuitry fries sensitive components in appliances, computers and other electronics. In catastrophic events such as lightning strikes, where voltage can range from 100 million to 1 billion volts, the extreme surge of power can melt the computerized aspects of every unprotected appliance, TV, and computer in the home with the outcome being expensive repairs and/or the need for replacements.

While lightning strikes may be the most dramatic cause of power surges, they are actually pretty rare when compared to the frequency of surges that occur when power is restored after a blackout or after energy intensive appliances or equipment draw power to start up or send small bursts of energy through the home’s circuitry when they are shut off. While relatively small in terms of voltage, these internal surges can have a cumulative effect that breaks down electronic components, such as microprocessors, over time.

Whether the objective is to defend against small or large power surges, there are several specific steps you can take to protect the appliances and electronics in your home.

Buy surge protectors – Surge protectors ground excess electrical currents before they travel to the appliances and electronics that are plugged into them. Rated surge protectors can defend against externally caused surges from the grid and can also serve as an ideal solution for protecting against long term deterioration of microprocessors caused by smaller household surges that can occur multiple times per day as air conditioners, refrigerator motors, etc. cycle on and off.

Whole house protection – This solution, in which protective devices are installed on phone and cable boxes as well as the main electrical panel, is suitable for households with large numbers of expensive appliances, computer equipment, TVs, etc. due to the relatively high cost of installation.

Unplug unprotected appliances, devices and other components – The sheer brute force of a lightning strike can overwhelm even the strongest surge protector so in the event of an oncoming electrical storm the most secure form of protection will be to unplug appliances, video gear, and computers until the storm passes. If you don’t have surge protectors, doing the same unplugging routine during a power outage can protect against a surge when power returns.

Whether power surges are subtle or sensational they can have substantial consequences. Following these steps can ensure that your appliances and electronics are protected and help to avoid the expense of doing repairs or replacements as a result of cumulative or catastrophic damage caused by power surges.

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Posted in Electronics

Have you ever been in a home theater with a huge screen and a crystal clear picture supported by a weak sound system that muffles the audio in some parts and distorts it completely in others? While the video aspect of home theaters tends to garner the most attention, a truly immersive experience can only occur with a fully optimized sound system.

Here are 7 tips that can enhance the audio aspect of your home theater system:

Support the video aspect of your home theater with capable audio gear – While your HDTV is equipped with speakers, they’re not enough for a home theater environment. For quality sound, look to add a receiver, a center channel, a subwoofer and directional speakers to broadcast the full range of recorded sound. For surround sound, you’ll want at least 6 speakers but many systems use more.

Make sure the receiver has enough inputs – In a home theater, the receiver is the piece of equipment that connects the rest of the components. These connections will likely include the HDTV, the Blu-ray player, Playstation/Xbox, and speakers.

Position the center channel – The primary duty of the center channel is to broadcast dialogue, making the most natural position for this speaker either above or below the screen. Because this speaker accounts for over 75 percent of the total audio data, upgrading the center channel is a worthy investment.

Position the subwoofer – Because the low frequency sound broadcasted by the subwoofer is omnidirectional, you’ll have some flexibility in its placement. Areas to avoid include corners and walls, which can concentrate the sound in a single direction.

Set up the front speakers – These speakers will be positioned on both sides of the screen, purposed to deliver sound that conveys motion.

Position the side speakers – These speakers, which are purposed to provide audio motion and enveloping sound, should be placed higher than the theater seats and at least four feet away from the nearest seat.

Set the back speakers – Like the side speakers, these components should be set at a level above the seats for optimal sound. The same distance of four feet from the back seats is also recommended.

Once the components of the sound system have been positioned, set the crossover frequency for 80Hz to direct bass tones to the subwoofer and higher frequencies to the surrounding speakers. This can be done using the receiver with “Crossover” turned off on the subwoofer. Additionally, turn the settings on the speakers to “Small” so that bass tones are transferred from the speakers to the subwoofer. While additional tweaks can always be made, with these steps will have built a solid foundation for an optimized audio system in your home theater.

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Posted in Electronics

The decision process for flat-panel televisions usually comes down to three technologies; LCD, LED or Plasma. While LCD/LED technologies posses advantages in terms of energy consumption and performance at high elevations, Plasma TVs tend to deliver higher performance levels in the areas related to the viewing experience of most people. These advantages include:

Viewing angle – One of biggest limitations for LCD/LED TVs is that the quality of the picture, which can be quite good for viewers sitting directly in front of the screen, diminishes quickly as the viewing angle increases. Viewers of Plasma TVs, on the other hand, can sit at dramatic angles while still experiencing crystal clear images.

Clear images during high motion sequences – The pixels in Plasma TVs react more quickly than LCD/LED TVs when motion is taking place on the screen, which eliminates blurred motion and ghosting. While LCD/LED TVs have improved dramatically in terms of presenting clearer motion sequences, refresh rates approaching 600 Hz on Plasma TVs make them the superior choice for watching action films, sports, and playing video games.

True black – The backlighting that illuminates the pixels on LCD/LED screens tends to lighten dark and/or black areas in the picture, giving them a grayish hue. Plasma pixels are lit individually, which eliminates the seepage of light into areas of the picture where deep black tones are intended. This pixel-specific lighting provides clear images and sharper contrast in darkness and low light picture settings.

Better color contrast – The backlighting of LCD/LED screens also leads to the bleeding of colors, which reduces intensity and contrast. On Plasma screens, the methodology that that facilitates deeper black tones by lighting pixels separately also delivers sharper colors and better contrast by isolating colors to each specific pixel.

One thing to keep in mind while shopping for TVs: In brightly lit big box stores, the picture on Plasma TV screens can look somewhat faded versus those of LCD/LED TVs. This is due to the overly bright backlighting of LCD/LED TVs, which stands up better against the unnatural lighting of cavernous showrooms. If at all possible, do your comparison shopping in stores that display TVs in settings that are more similar to that of your home, rather than under banks of fluorescent lights. In an environment with natural light, the superior picture, color and contrast of Plasma TVs will be quite clear.

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Posted in Electronics

Plasma TVs have long been considered by videophiles as offering a superior viewing experience with deeper blacks, excellent color detail, and wide viewing angles. Despite being so highly regarded, the largest manufacturer of Plasma TVs, Panasonic, announced that it was stopping production last year and Samsung made a similar announcement in July, stating that they were getting out of Plasma manufacturing in November due to a flawed business model. That leaves LG as the last company building Plasma TVs and, unless they can succeed where Panasonic and Samsung could not in terms of executing a workable business model, will likely hit the exit in the near future as well.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind if you want your next TV to be based on Plasma technology instead of an LCD model:

Samsung’s popular Plasma models will probably disappear quickly – A waning supply combined with higher demand for specific models will likely lead to their disappearance sooner rather than later. The action in specific Panasonic models provides evidence of this probability as their most popular products flew off shelves in the days and weeks after the company announced its discontinuation of Plasma production last year. For example, the S60 models, which sat at the low end of Panasonic’s 1080p plasma offerings but presented the image quality of far more expensive models, were sold out within a few weeks after the announcement.

Getting replacement parts for discontinued products can be difficult in some cases but Samsung will continue to supply parts for repairs – Major manufacturers such as Samsung will continue to offer years of support after a product’s discontinuation, but in these situations it’s always a good idea to keep the owner’s manual around to ensure access to specific parts numbers.

If an extended warranty is available, buy it – Samsung’s products have a reputation for long term reliability, so buying a long term extended warranty can provide an extra layer of protection if the set lasts so long that finding parts becomes difficult.

Consumer products can be discontinued for a variety of reasons including those related to quality and profitability. In the case of Plasma TVs, the quality of the product has never been in question and the technology is still believed by many to be superior to that of LCD TVs. In this case, the supply of these highly regarded products will probably tighten quickly, meaning that if you love Plasma TVs, you should buy sooner rather than later.

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Posted in Appliances

Covering the budget for the remodeling of a kitchen can result in a sizable investment, but the initial expense of the project can be reduced substantially over time by prioritizing energy efficiency when purchasing new appliances such as the refrigerator, range hood, and dishwasher. The most energy efficient kitchen appliances will carry ENERGY STAR ratings and while the initial price tags will likely be higher than non-rated products, the savings over time will be substantial. ENERGY STAR rated appliances earn their label by meeting efficiency benchmarks set by the EPA, which can reduce the cost of operating appliances by 15% to 60%.

Here are some of efficiencies that can be realized by each major ENERGY STAR rated appliance in your kitchen remodeling project:

* The refrigerator – The full-time use of a refrigerator makes this appliance of the biggest energy users in a home. On average, a refrigerator that is twenty years old costs $143 per year to run, almost $100 dollars more than the cost of running a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator. These savings result from a variety of improvements including better insulation, high-performance compressors and efficient temperature control and defrost processes.

* The dishwasher – Replacing a 12 year old dishwasher with an ENERGY STAR rated machine, which represents the average turnover rate for households in the United State, can reduce water usage by approximately one-third and energy consumption by almost 30%.

* The range hood – An ENERGY STAR qualified range hood reduces energy consumption by about 60% versus older models. The savings are realized through high-performance motors which generate lower noise levels, higher venting efficiencies, and provide a longer usable life.

 

The efficiencies realized by ENERGY STAR appliances are primarily the result of improvements in design and performance. In addition to providing financial returns on the remodeling of the kitchen through energy savings, these appliances typically have longer usable lives, which can save even more money over the long term.

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Posted in Appliances

While new dishwashers offer higher efficiencies in terms of hot water consumption, shortening cycle times by sensing when dishes are clean, and matching water temperatures to the level required to produce a clean wash load, substantial savings can also be realized by taking several actions before closing the door and pushing “Start”.

These actions include:

* Ending the pre-wash routine – The habit of pre-washing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher may be hard to break, but it’s costing you money unnecessarily. The upgraded washing systems in new models can clean dirty dishes completely, meaning that you only have to scrape off the leftovers before putting dishes and cookware in the dishwasher. This shortcut alone can save over 5,000 gallons of water and cut energy usage by 38%.

* Filling the dishwasher before running – Doing full wash loads maximizes the efficiency of energy and water consumption. If you don’t have a full machine at the end of the day, using the “Rinse and Hold” cycle can prevent food residues from drying on plates and other items until you fill the racks. This option uses less than 2 gallons of water, which is considerably less than running 2 half-loads.

* Using your wash cycle options – Selecting wash cycle options that match the wash load will result in a cycle that is run at its highest efficiency. Another cycle that saves money is the “No Heat – Air Dry” option, which uses fans instead of hot air to for drying.

* Turning down the temperature on the water heater – New dishwashers are built with internal heaters that can increase water temperatures to manufacturer-recommended levels. By heating water on an as needed basis in the dishwasher, the temperature of the water heater can be decreased by as much as 20 degrees from the normal default setting of 145 degrees, which will save about $20 per year.

 

One of the greatest savings provided a new dishwasher can’t be measured in monetary terms. According to a study in Germany, a household can save an average of 230 hours per year now that pre-washing is no longer necessary. For many households, these hours can carry far more value than the extra money in their checking accounts.

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Posted in Appliances

Any time food and water are mixed for extended periods of time there is a good chance that the resulting aroma will be less than pleasant. Left long enough, the resulting mold and bacteria can result in dishes coming out at the end of the cycle that are just as dirty as they were when they went in, with the difference being that food residues have been replaced by various forms of bacteria. If you are in the process of buying a new dishwasher, there are 4 maintenance steps you can take to preserve that new dishwasher smell and eliminate the dangers of bacterial growth.

 

Clean out the screen/grate on the strainer at the bottom of the basin – This is an area that traps food and moisture, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to flourish. Remove the bottom rack for easier access, unscrew the cover, and then pull out the screen/grate. Rinse any trapped food and other residues from both parts and them put them back in place.

Check the water jets for trapped food, mildew, etc. – In addition to providing a habitat for bacterial growth, food, grease and residues that are stuck in the small holes of the washer arms can prevent the water jets from working at full force. Use a toothpick or tweezers to pull out trapped residues but be careful not to damage the jets.

Clean the ledges and edges around the door – These areas typically don’t get cleaned by the water jets but can still trap food, grease, soap suds, etc. Remove caked on residues with a toothbrush or a kitchen brush and then wipe these areas down with a damp rag that has been soaked in white wine vinegar to remove remaining residues and kill bacteria.

Run an empty cycle with white wine vinegar – Once a month, fill an 8 ounce cup with white wine vinegar, place it on the top rack of the dishwasher, and run an empty hot water cycle. If bacteria is trying gain a foothold in your dishwasher, this solution can prevent a buildup before it gets out of hand. If you have a front loading washing machine and run the same kind of empty cycle for maintenance purposes, schedule your empty dishwasher cycle on the same day to stay on top of both maintenance routines.

Food, grease and moisture in a watertight basin can yield unpleasant results. However, by following these maintenance steps, you can keep your new dishwasher smelling like a new dishwasher for the long term.

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Posted in Appliances

The kitchen has always been a place for family and friends to gather and is increasingly chosen as the place to entertain as well. Considering that this area must offer high functionality while also providing a visually appealing environment, one of the biggest challenges when remodeling on a budget is often the purchase of appliances that serve both purposes without breaking the bank. If you are in the process of remodeling on a serious budget, there are several steps you can take that can save money while putting great appliances in your kitchen.

These steps include:

Passing on features you don’t need – One of the fastest ways to accumulate a huge tab on your kitchen appliance purchases is by adding features that will be used either minimally or not at all. Features like high powered burners and computer screens on refrigerator doors are extras that can increase costs substantially, a situation that can be made worse if they’re never used.

Selectively buying scratch and dent appliances – Scratch and dent appliances generally have some sort of cosmetic damage that does not impair the functionality of the appliance. Because a damaged item cannot be sold at the same price as those that are in perfect condition, these appliances are typically sold at steep discounts to otherwise identical products. When this type of damage occurs on surfaces that aren’t visible after installation, such as the sides or the back of the item, your appliance will appear to be in perfect condition while costing far less than the advertised price.

Consider ENERGY STAR rated appliances – ENERGY STAR rated appliances may cost more at the point of purchase but can save loads of money on utility bills for the life of each product. Additional savings can occur through rebates that are commonly offered by local utilities and/or government agencies. Purchasing an ENERGY STAR appliance over a non-rated product, if your budget allows it, will likely result in a level of savings over time that dwarfs the added cost at the time of purchase.

Staying within your budget may be easier than you thought. By focusing on what you really need from your appliances, selectively buying scratch and dent items, and looking for ENERGY STAR ratings, you can remodel your kitchen on a tight budget while also saving money over the life of each product.

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Posted in Appliances

Buying a wine cooler is a great way to store a wide variety of wines, whether for immediate consumption, aging, or a combination of the two. In process of buying and then installing one of these units, there are several common mistakes that are made which can result in a diminished wine collection, unpredictable serving temperatures, and a shorter than average usable life of the unit. These mistakes include:

 

Installing the wine cooler in a location that experiences wide ranges in temperature – These locations include the garage, adjacent to heat producing appliances, and in areas that receive direct sunlight. Exposure to heat in the garage, from a refrigerator or oven, and through direct exposure to sunlight can heat the wine cooler to the point where it can’t maintain the preset cooling temperatures, leading to wine that is stored at temperatures that are too high for both serving and aging. In a garage without temperature controls, frigid temperatures can freeze wine with disastrous results.

Buying a unit with vents in the wrong place – Wine coolers kick out warm air and draw in cool air through an intake, both of which require adequate ventilation for efficient cooling. For example, a cooler that will be built-in should vent from the front for adequate circulation as buying a unit that vents to the rear will trap hot air, which will force the compressor to work progressively harder to keep wine at the temperatures that have been set.

Buying an inexpensive cooler for an expensive collection – Like all appliances, there can be a dramatic range in prices as well as quality of construction within the wine cooler category. Unlike your other appliances, a malfunctioning wine cooler can result in damages to its contents that reach thousands of dollars or more, depending on the collection. For this reason, be sure to buy a wine cooler that is commensurate in quality with the wine that is stored inside of it.

While the noise level of the cooler will not have a direct effect on wine storage or the expected usable life of the unit, neglecting to check the decibel level that is reached while the compressor is in operation can be a big mistake as well, especially if the cooler is in a room without a lot of ambient noise such as a dining room or a home theater. Considering that a decibel level in the low 50’s is similar to a dishwasher, selecting a quieter cooler can make a big difference in certain environments.

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Posted in Appliances

Covering the budget for the remodeling of a kitchen can result in a sizable investment, but the initial expense of the project can be reduced substantially over time by prioritizing energy efficiency when purchasing new appliances such as the refrigerator, range hood, and dishwasher. The most energy efficient kitchen appliances will carry ENERGY STAR ratings and while the initial price tags will likely be higher than non-rated products, the savings over time will be substantial. ENERGY STAR rated appliances earn their label by meeting efficiency benchmarks set by the EPA, which can reduce the cost of operating appliances by 15% to 60%.

Here are some of efficiencies that can be realized by each major ENERGY STAR rated appliance in your kitchen remodeling project:

* The refrigerator – The full-time use of a refrigerator makes this appliance of the biggest energy users in a home. On average, a refrigerator that is twenty years old costs $143 per year to run, almost $100 dollars more than the cost of running a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator. These savings result from a variety of improvements including better insulation, high-performance compressors and efficient temperature control and defrost processes.

* The dishwasher – Replacing a 12 year old dishwasher with an ENERGY STAR rated machine, which represents the average turnover rate for households in the United State, can reduce water usage by approximately one-third and energy consumption by almost 30%.

* The range hood – An ENERGY STAR qualified range hood reduces energy consumption by about 60% versus older models. The savings are realized through high-performance motors which generate lower noise levels, higher venting efficiencies, and provide a longer usable life.

 

The efficiencies realized by ENERGY STAR appliances are primarily the result of improvements in design and performance. In addition to providing financial returns on the remodeling of the kitchen through energy savings, these appliances typically have longer usable lives, which can save even more money over the long term.

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