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How to choose the best appliances for your kitchen needs

When you're building a new kitchen or renovating an existing kitchen, the question of appliances will come up. It's an important question. You want to choose appliances that look good, but that's not all. You also want appliances that serve your needs and are energy efficient. Here's how to choose the best appliances for your kitchen needs. No matter what appliances you buy, the first thing you should look at is its Energy Star rating. If you're not familiar with the system, read Understanding Energy Star Rating of Appliances before you start looking for appliances. It will give you an overview of how the system works and tell you why it is important to choose energy efficient appliances.

Ovens

Ovens can be installed under your cooktop or on the wall. First decide where you want your oven to go. Wall mounted ovens will reduce benchtop space, but you don't have to bend over to use them. If you need benchtop space and don't have a problem with bending over, you might prefer an underbench oven. If you're a casual cook, you might be happy with an electric oven, but if you use your oven a lot, an electric oven is the least energy-efficient oven you can choose. Gas ovens heat up faster and give you more precise temperature control.

Now you have to decide what type of oven you need. Are you an experienced cook who loves to try new dishes? If so, you might prefer a convection oven. Although convection ovens use more energy than standard ovens, they cook more evenly. If you have a large family to feed or have frequent parties, you might want to consider buying a double oven. Also think about a warming drawer or a steam oven.

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Cooktops

We have more cooktop options today than ever before. Electric cooktops are inexpensive and continue to be popular, but are not your most energy efficient choice. Most chefs prefer gas cooktops because they can be precisely adjusted. Another cooktop option that is catching on is the induction cooktop. An induction cooktop creates an electromagnetic field that heats your cooking vessel. You have to choose cooking vessels that are compatible with induction cooktops, but induction cooktops can be precisely adjusted and are easy to clean because they have a flat surface.

Also consider the width of your cooktop. 600mm wide is standard, but larger 900mm wide cooktops are available if you need more burners and space.

Refrigerators

Your refrigerator runs 24 hours a day, so choosing an energy-efficient fridge is a must. Refrigerators can be gas or electric and come in a wide variety of styles. When choosing a fridge, think about the number of people who use it and the amount of storage space you need. Standard fridges have small freezers on top, but you can also find "upside down" fridges with greater freezer space under the fridge. You may also want to choose a model that has a side freezer or, if you need even more freezer space, a side-by-side fridge/freezer. Another option is the French door fridge, which has two fridge doors and a bottom freezer. Finally, you can buy a fridge that does not have a freezer if you have a large chest freezer in a separate room.

Dishwashers

Dishwashers can be energy and water wasters or misers. When choosing any dishwasher, check both the Energy Star Rating and the water rating. Consider using a cold water dishwasher or choose a model that has a temperature gauge. There is no need to use hot water for light dishwashing.

Most dishwashers are designed to be mounted underbench next to the sink. Standard dishwashers require a 600mm wide space. However, if you live in an apartment or don't need a large dishwasher, you can also choose smaller "drawer" style dishwashers and some larger dishwashers give you a "drawer" option for small loads.

Microwaves

Microwaves have become standard kitchen appliances. When they first arrived on the scene, kitchen designers struggled to find a place for them. Today, most kitchen designs include a microwave space. Most microwaves come with trim appliance sales by retailers kits for fitting into cabinet openings, so you can probably find a style that will suit you. The problem may be in deciding which microwave to buy. A simple microwave will defrost and heat food rapidly, but will not brown foods. If you want you microwaved dishes to have the oven-baked look, choose a microwave with a halogen/quartz light for browning. A convection microwave is a good idea if you have a busy kitchen. A convection microwave can brown, bake or roast like a traditional oven. 

Rangehoods

A range hood is a must if you do a lot of cooking on your cooktop and don't have good room ventilation. Inexpensive rangehoods usually fit into a cabinet above your cooktop. A budget rangehood will recirculate air. Ducted rangehoods are more expensive to buy and install, but are more efficient. Rangehoods are available for both 600mm and 900mm wide cooktops and come in a wide range of styles. Rangehoods are very visible in the kitchen and your rangehood' style can make or break your kitchen design.