Utility Bidder's guide to appliances
If you’re splashing the cash this Black Friday, gen-up on what features to look for to get the most for your money. Here experts from Utility Bidder help you navigate the appliance blurb so you get the kind of deal you’ve dreamt of.
Load-up: According to research by Finish a fully-loaded dishwasher will use less than a quarter the water of handwashing, with the bonus of washing at higher temperatures and using stronger detergents, to help kill bacteria. If you just put a few plates and bits of cutlery in, then you’re not using your dishwasher correctly – they’re designed to be run full, so if you find yourself struggling to fill it, opt for a slim-line model instead, which will use much less energy.
An increasing number of models now have Wi-Fi-connection, so they can be controlled via an app. Handy if you’ve left home and forgot to turn it on, or want it to run in off-peak hours. And look for smart models which measure how dirty the plates and dishes are to adjust the amount of water used, and the length and temperature of the cycle. The good news? These tech add-ons don’t have to break the bank.
Cutlery baskets are quicker to load, but a top-mounted, slide-out cutlery tray has definite benefits. It might be a faff to separately position each knife, fork and spoon, but it’s much more space-efficient and gives the cutlery a more thorough wash. Cutlery trays also prevent rust spots from developing when two different metals come into contact with each other during the washing cycle.
Check to see if your dishwasher can accommodate over-size and strange-shape items with adjustable upper racks. Fold-down tines where plates are normally placed can likewise be moved so can you put that casserole in and leave the hard work to your new pride and joy.
If you’re worried about your dirty plates and cutlery stinking out the dishwasher and spreading germs, opt for a rinse-hold feature. This allows you to rinse dirty dishes when you don’t want a full cycle, so you can wait until it’s full and primed for a proper wash. Likewise, automatic open door drying is a joy – at the end of the wash, the door opens a few centimetres to allow everything to dry naturally, so no slip-ups as you empty it, and no smears.
Size it up –
First consider what size drum to get – bigger isn’t always better. A large household might require an 8kg capacity machine (which could hold a double duvet, or up to 35 men’s shirts). However, if you’re single or only have a small family, a 5 or 6kg washing machine is more than sufficient, and will easily hold a single duvet and the equivalent of 25 or so t-shirts. Bigger drums will use more energy, so the right fit could reduce your bills.
Go auto –
Consider a machine with automatic detergent dispensing, the best way to help save both time and money. Using this feature means you no longer have to worry about getting the dosage right, as the machine will calculate the precise amount required for each individual wash load and dose it at the optimum point in the cycle, for the smartest, most caring clean.
Make your life easier –
If you’re stretched for time for domestic chores, consider a machine with pre-ironing programmes, which ends the cycle with a burst of steam, or a model with quick or PowerWash cycle, which offer a thorough wash in less than an hour.
Use tech –
like lots of appliances now, some washing machines are ‘smart’ and can be controlled via an app, so you can control your laundry when you’re not at home. The AppControl feature also offers a helpful WashAssistant, determining the best programme for every wash. Meanwhile, the TwinDos technology reminds users when the detergent containers are running low, with the option to easily order more when required.
Save space –
Washer-dryers can be a great solution if you’re looking for one machine to do it all with limited space. But tests show they’re not usually aren’t as good as a separate washing machine and dryer. They can have drying capacities that are half – if not more – than their washing capacity. So while you may be able to wash 10kg, you might only be able to dry 4kg in the same machine.
Limited your (spin) speed –
The faster the spin, the more water is removed, and clothes don’t have to be in a tumble dryer or out on the washing line for as long. While speeds are worth considering, any machine with a range between 400 to 1,400rpm will do the job well. Some top-of-the-range models can spin up to 1,800rpm on a cotton program, but faster spin speeds can be costlier and usually noisier, too.
The latest internet-connected fridge freezers have smart features that show you what’s in your fridge remotely via a smartphone app, allow you to create a shopping list or download recipes to make the most of what’s inside. Handy for when you’re in Sainsbury’s and forgot if you have enough milk.
We’d all love a massive American-style side-by-side fridge-freezer, but be realistic about your space. A tall fridge or freezer will be over 130cm tall, and can go up to 200cm. The standard width is around 55 to 60cm. Even if it can – just – fit your space, remember to allow space at the back, sides and top for ventilation. If you don’t, the condenser will have to work harder and the freezer won’t be efficient. Check the exact details in the instructions but most recommend between 2.5cm to 3cm.
Dodge the ice
Defrosted water in the fridge section will drain into a trough at the back of the appliance and evaporate to stop your fridge from freezing up and becoming damp. If you buy a frost-free freezer, there’s no need to defrost it yourself as it comes with a heater to regularly get rid of ice, and a fan to circulate cool air. These models are slightly noisier and more expensive to run than standard models.
To save the fresh fare in your salad drawer as well as the cheddar in your cheese drawer, brands such as Samsung and AEG have models with a flexible cooling feature. This means you can change the temperature and humidity levels in different areas of your fridge to keep everything preserved for longer.
A ‘fast-freeze’ function keeps the temperature low when you add large quantities of fresh food to the freezer and it also means the food will be fresher when it’s defrosted. It also helps retain the texture and quality of certain foods, like bread. Some models automatically revert to the normal setting once the food has frozen but others must be switched back manually.
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