Appliances help you to perform countless daily tasks, quickly and effectively. Ideally, they also do the job efficiently and affordably.
There’s an appliance for everything, from vacuuming crumbs and ironing clothes to food storage, home comfort and making your coffee. The variety and sophistication of modern home appliances make it a challenge to settle on the perfect choice but the benefits can be great.
And with energy-efficient technology becoming more prevalent, it’s easy than ever to make a purchase that’s both affordable and also good for the environment.
Top 10 Appliance Essentials
Essential Home Appliances
Standing over a sink full of hot water is tedious and tiring. If you’re looking to install a dishwasher for the first time (or upgrade your existing model) consider the size of your family and the number of loads per day. A larger capacity model means fewer loads and is more economical for big families.
Water usage and noise level are important considerations, too. A timer feature is essential for running the dishwasher at night or while you’re away. Make sure the racks are durable and adjustable.
A range hood vents or filters steam, smoke, and cooking odours before they spread throughout your home or trigger your smoke alarm. Typically installed above the stove, they can also be custom-installed into kitchen cabinetry for a more streamlined appearance.
The trends are toward discreet, low-profile hoods or chimney hoods that offer a more industrial, modern feel. External ventilation systems direct smoke and smells outdoors while re-circulating or downdraft systems only filter and disperse the air.
Tip: When installing a range hood, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for minimum clearance over your cooking surface.
Modern refrigerators now offer filtered water dispensers and ice makers as standard features. So-called “smart” fridges feature touch screens and Wi-Fi connectivity to help you make your grocery list and manage inventory.
In smaller kitchens, compact fridges can be recessed in drawers or below counters. A fridge capacity of at least 18 cubic feet is considered ideal for most families.
Freezers are top mount or bottom mount according to preference and budget. A bottom mount freezer housed in a pull-out drawer can provide easier access to fridge items and more convenient storage of frozen goods that you use less frequently.
Buying a separate freezer can be a great investment if you like to shop in bulk. For larger families, having extra storage for frozen food can be a money-saver in the long run.
A standard upright freezer is a good choice if space in your home is at a premium. If you plan to store large cuts of meat in your upright freezer, look for adjustable shelving for most efficient use. If you have room in your basement or garage, you might consider a chest freezer. They are generally bigger and less expensive than upright freezers.
Most new washing machines today are high efficiency (HE) models that use less water and detergent than older units. Conventional washing machines are either front load or top load. Front load washers often need to be mounted on a pedestal which may not be included. Newer top loading models are slightly more expensive but compensate by using less water.
Machines with faster, more powerful spin cycles will use less energy and help to reduce drying time. Also, machines that only heat the water being used (instead of the entire tank) are much more energy-efficient. If you have a large family, you may want to choose a washer with higher capacity.
Whether you’re reheating leftovers, making popcorn for movie night or trying a special recipe, a microwave is a workhorse appliance in most kitchens.
Countertop microwaves are affordable but can occupy valuable space. If you have a smaller kitchen, consider getting a microwave cart to maximize storage and avoid clutter.
Microwaves can also be installed directly into your cabinetry for convenience and efficiency. Over-the-range microwaves combine a microwave oven with a range hood. A 1000-watt microwave is ideal for most purposes. Look for single-touch buttons that perform the most common tasks.
Our winters are famously frigid, but people sometimes forget just how hot the summers can be! An efficient air conditioner provides refreshing comfort for your family during sticky days and humid nights.
Window air conditioners are easy to install and can cool up to 1800 square feet depending on the model. A portable air conditioner is more eco-friendly and ideal for cooling a single room like a bedroom or living room.
Through-the-wall units require special installation and are a bit more expensive, but highly-efficient, nicer-looking and more permanent. Whole-house air conditioners are a major investment requiring professional installation and the necessary ductwork connected to your furnace.
Canister vacuums are easier to move around and have a long, flexible hose that connects to the vacuum head to provide more reach. They’re also easier to handle when vacuuming stairs. Upright vacuums are slightly heavier but require less lifting and bending.
Both main types of vacuums come with interchangeable attachments for hard to reach areas in and around furniture. An upright should have separate settings for carpeted and bare floors.
For coffee-loving households that go through several pots a day, a 10-12 cup, drip coffee maker with a cone or basket filter is usually the best option. Various settings can control the number of cups and brewing strength, and many machines feature a bean grinder and a timer to preset your morning pot and beep when it’s ready.
If you’re a gourmand or solo coffee drinker, you might consider a pricier single-cup brewer, which uses individual pods to brew one cup at a time. Many single-serve brewers also feature milk steamers, espresso pods, and other accessories, so you can make a frothy and delicious latte or cappuccino. Just make sure that you purchase pods that are compatible with your machine.
Irons range from basic and inexpensive to elaborate and pricey. Important features include steam blast settings to flatten stubborn wrinkles and variable heat settings so that you can safely work with different fabrics. You may also want to consider safety features like auto-shutoff — especially if you’ve got little ones around the house.
Appliance buying tips
- Consult energy efficiency ratings for the least costly operation.
- Choose the appliance finish that best matches your decor.
- Measure first, to make sure a new appliance will fit a particular space.
- Pay only for the extra features that you’re sure you will need.
- Make sure buttons and controls are accessible and easy to operate.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for care and maintenance.