Five Features to Consider in Electric Ranges

Electric ranges offer several advantages over their gas counterparts. Consider the following features that may impact your decision: Safety These types of stoves are extremely safe, especially as compared to gas stoves. Most have an indicator that the surface of the stove is hot, so you do not accidently place something there before it has…

Electric ranges offer several advantages over their gas counterparts. Consider the following features that may impact your decision:

Safety

These types of stoves are extremely safe, especially as compared to gas stoves. Most have an indicator that the surface of the stove is hot, so you do not accidently place something there before it has cooled off. Also, there are several ways that gas stoves can emit toxic, explosive gasses into the room. One way is if the pilot light goes out. Another way is when it takes several tries to catch the flame, with each attempt emitting small amounts of gas. There is also the simple risk of leakage from the gas lines. An electric appliance simply plugs into the wall, and you control the burners and oven with the simple twist of a knob. There is no lighter or igniter required.

Efficiency

You do not want to use more energy than is required. You also do not want to heat up your kitchen unnecessarily, especially in the warmer months. Electric ranges typically have two sizes of elements on the cook top, so you can use the larger burners for large pots, and the smaller burners for small pots. That way, you do not use more heat or emit any more heat into the air than needed.

These appliances provide even heat distribution while baking, so your cooking is more efficient. You do not have to worry about excessive heat in a particular area or trying to manipulate the food over a longer period of time for more even cooking.

Versatility

If you like to cook a variety of dishes once, you may enjoy some of the extra features available for this type of stove, such as small grills or additional fans. You may choose a model with a smooth glass top, which offers more stability for pots and pans. This smooth top also comes in handy as additional counter space!

Cleanup

Whether or not you choose a flat cook surface or the type with stove elements, you'll enjoy easier cleanup. The smooth top is simple to clean with normal or special glass cleaning products, and there are no creases or crevices. The removable elements are easy to lift up or take out for cleaning around and underneath. Gas appliances have more areas for food and spills to fall into, so cleanup is much more time consuming and tedious.

Cost

In general, electric ranges cost slightly less than gas ranges, but some of the cost depends on the size, model, and features of the appliance you choose. You will need to consider not only the cost of the appliance, but also if there will be extra costs involved, such as the installation, pipes, and special hookups for a gas stove.

While electric ranges may use more electricity than gas appliances, you only pay for that electricity. You will have to pay for the natural gas used in gas stoves, so you'll have an extra bill for that expense.

Overall, your choice in kitchen appliances comes down to your personal preference. Electric ranges provide a simple, cost-effective, and efficient option for most homeowners. Consider their benefits, and how important those features are to you when making your home appliance decisions.

How To Make Your Basement Safe With A Dehumidifer

The most important thing you should remember when you are installing a ventilation system or an air conditioner is that your basement should be totally dry. You do not want any humidity in your basement. The problem with humidity is that it is the ideal breeding ground for mildew and mold. The truth is that…

The most important thing you should remember when you are installing a ventilation system or an air conditioner is that your basement should be totally dry. You do not want any humidity in your basement. The problem with humidity is that it is the ideal breeding ground for mildew and mold. The truth is that most basements are moment to humidity. The reason behind this is because of poor ventilation.

Humidity can lead to the growth of fungus on your floors and walls in your basement. This is caused by water vapor found in the air. This dampness can destroy clothes and books. Moreover, the humidity can speed up the rotting process of the wood found in the basement. To remove the humidity from your foundation, the easiest thing to do is to install an inexpensive dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier is particularly important if you or your loved ones have allergies. A good dehumidifier can remove the humidity and thereby reduce the risk of health problems related to fungus or even to toxic mold.

Having a basement dehumidifier are extremely important. However, you need to consider several factors before you buy a dehumidifier. You need to consider the reason behind the high moisture in your foundation and once you know it, try to fix the problems. Make sure that you basement has a similar temperature compared to the rest of your home. Cooler temperatures in the basement can lead to the build-up of moisture. You also may need to put additional insulation to your basement to regulate the temperature. Moreover, weather stripping can be placed along the windows or doors of your basement to keep moisture out.

If you choose to install a basement dehumidifier, make sure you know the basement space or the cubic footage. This will help you determine what size unit you need. Also, think about whether you are going to install a permanent unit or a portable basement dehumidifier. Remember to request for a demonstration prior to purchasing a unit.

A basement dehumidifier processes just like how AC and refrigerators do, by relying on an evaporator coil. The units collect the humid air using the process of condensation. They then remove the condensation and collect it in the coils. This is what dries out the air and extracts the humidity from the room. A basement dehumidifier needs some regular maintenance. It is essential that you clean your dehumidifier and remove all the collected moisture in the container every so often. This is very important since your container is also prior to the increase of bacteria and fungus growth.

How New Dishwashers Are More Energy Efficient

You may think that your 10-year-old kitchen appliance still works fine to clean your cups and plates. The bottom line, however, is that manufacturers have been busy making significant improvements in dishwashers. Newer appliances have advanced technologies that make them a beneficial addition to your kitchen. Water Filtration Systems To clean dishes, this appliance needs…

You may think that your 10-year-old kitchen appliance still works fine to clean your cups and plates. The bottom line, however, is that manufacturers have been busy making significant improvements in dishwashers. Newer appliances have advanced technologies that make them a beneficial addition to your kitchen.

Water Filtration Systems

To clean dishes, this appliance needs to remove food and debris from them. As the food moves away from the plates, pots, and pans, the water moving around inside the system will have food particles in it. To ensure that the food particles do not contaminate the dishes once again, the appliance needs to have a strong filtration system that will dispose of the food efficiently. Newer models are more effective with improved water filtration systems installed in the units.

Soil Sensing Improvements

Not every load you run through an appliance will be excessively dirty. New dishwashers come equipped with better soil sensors, enabling them to determine the level of soiling on items. If the unit determinates that the level of soiling is minimal, the appliance will adjust the wash cycle to use less water and energy. If the unit determinates that the level of soiling is higher, the unit will adjust the cycle to use more water and energy. The bottom line is that the appliance will use just the right amount of water and energy to produce cleanliness every time without using more resources than are necessary.

Higher Efficiency with Less Water

The jets that deliver water inside the unit are more efficient with later models. More jets produce stronger spray, while using less water and detergent. Newer models typically use between 3.5 and 8 gallons of water for each load, which is a significant improvement over other models just a few years old. In addition, the higher efficiency of water jets makes it unnecessary to pre-rinse dishes, which reduces the amount of water you run from your kitchen tap. You can realize the most energy efficiency by only washing full loads in the unit and avoiding sanitizing and enhanced water cycles, which tend to use more water.

New Innovations and Designs

New dishwashers have updated designs and innovations that make them work more efficiently. For example, racks inside the units have new designs that maximize cleaning because the items sit at better angles to receive water flow more effectively. Placement of silverware has also changed, with some units placing silverware racks in the door. Some models have three racks instead of just two racks and higher tubs to enable you to fit more items inside. Larger loads can translate into fewer loads, which will save energy and resources over time. Many models also have better sound insulation, making them more pleasant to operate in your kitchen.

The average lifespan of this appliance is approximately nine to 12 years, depending on the brand and how frequently you use it. Explore the options and updates available with new dishwashers to see how your kitchen might benefit from an upgrade.

5 Advantages Gas Ranges Offer Over Electric Stoves

When considering the appliances in your home, you may want to look at gas ranges. There are pro's and con's to all types of stoves, but the gas range offers five key advantages that may be important to you. 1. Temperature Control Gas ranges allow you to achieve the optimum temperatures recommended in your favorite…

When considering the appliances in your home, you may want to look at gas ranges. There are pro's and con's to all types of stoves, but the gas range offers five key advantages that may be important to you.

1. Temperature Control

Gas ranges allow you to achieve the optimum temperatures recommended in your favorite recipes more accurately. As you need to make adjustments during cooking, changing the dial adjusts the flames immediately so that the temperature change is more immediate. With electric stovetops, you have to wait for the burner to get warmer or cooler after you adjust the dial. More accurate cooking can mean a tastier dish!

2. Faster Cooking

When you turn on the burner of a gas range, the heat is immediate. You can reach the right temperature faster, and therefore cook your dish more quickly than with an electric stove top. The quickness of the temperature change also lessens the chance of scorching foods, since it will not heat up so gradually that you will not know areas of the cooking surface are too hot. Faster cooking also means you have more time to enjoy your meal with family and friends!

3. Heat Distribution

The flame of a gas burner is centralized, allowing even more heat distribution over the entire burner. With an electric burner, the heat can be distributed unevenly through the cooking surface, which can mean uneven, slower cooking. Combined with the better temperature controls, the even heat distribution protects against scorching, a common problem with electric burners.

4. Lower Emissions

An electric stove allows heat to hover in the area round the appliance. With gas ranges, you will not have this wasted heat in the air, which means it will be cooler in your kitchen. Also, because of the more immediate temperature controls, once you turn the burner off, the heat is gone immediately. With electric tops, the burner takes a while to cool down, therefore allowing the heat from the surface to remain in the room for a while.

5. Availability During Power Loss

When you lose power, you lose electricity. If you have an electric stove, then you lose your ability to cook! With gas ranges, you can still use the appliance during a power outage, since they do not need electricity to operate. You may be cooking and eating by candlelight, but at least you can still prepare a great meal without power!

Gas ranges are an efficient way to cook, and offer many advantages over electric ranges. To make the most of your appliance, you will need to make sure your home is set up to accept the fuel lines needed to run the stove and that you have a utility company that will offer you good terms and prices. Check out what is available at your local home appliance store.

A Quick Guide To: Microwaves

The microwave is one of the newest kitchen appliances and also one of the most popular. Since being invented in the 1940s and sold for home use in the 1960s, the microwave has revolutionized how we cook. In a bid to help you understand your microwave, and there before get the most out of it,…

The microwave is one of the newest kitchen appliances and also one of the most popular. Since being invented in the 1940s and sold for home use in the 1960s, the microwave has revolutionized how we cook.

In a bid to help you understand your microwave, and there before get the most out of it, we've produced the following guide. This guide looks at how the microwave works, the best way to clean it, and how to replace the waveguide cover should it become faulty.

So without further ado …

How a Microwave Works:

The controls for microwaves will often vary depending on the make and model of the appliance. However the principal of how a microwave works will remain the same.
Understanding the workings of a microwave will help you, should you notice a fault with the appliance.

How to Clean a Microwave:

To keep your microwave running for longer, it's important to ensure it is regularly cleaned. Even if it does not look dirty to the naked eye, bacteria and dirt can build up, resulting in unpleaseless odors and increasing the risk of a hindered performance.

It's recommended after every use any spills and splatters which have occurred in the microwave are cleaned up. More often than not such spills can be wiped away using an anti-bacterial wipe.

Along with wiping spills and splatters after use, carrying out a more thorough clean of the microwave on a weekly basis is a must, and it needs not be difficult. Although there are a few considerations which need to be kept in mind, helping to ensure there's no unnecessary damage.

The first thing you need to make sure you do not do is use a wool wire scouring pad to remove any burnt on food. Although the scouring pad is robust in removing such dirt, you run the risk of small parts of wool wire breaking off and causing sparks.

Instead, use a plastic one along with a dedicated microwave cleaner. Whether you opt for a spray, foam or gel, such a cleaner will soak into and loosen burnt on food within your microwave, which the plastic scouring pad will then remove with ease.

When cleaning your microwave, take care not to use too much water. This runs the risk of seeing down the sides of your waveguide cover and taking dirt with it.

Top Tip: When cleaning your microwave, remove the waveguide cover at the end of the cleaning process. This will allow you to dry it using a clean tea-towel. Whilst the waveguide cover is off, double check no dirt has crept into the crevice. Such dirt could burn and cause future damage to the appliance.

During the cleaning process, the turntable and roller should be removed and cleaned. The roller can be wiped down with a damp cloth, while the turntable should have washed in the same way you'd wash the rest of your dishes.

You can limit how often you need to clean your microwave, by ensuring you cover food as you cook it, as this will help reduce the amount of food splatters or spills which occurs.

NB: If covering food, make sure that the lid has gaps to allow steam to leave. If you've got a film cover, pierce this with a fork.

How to Change the Waveguide Cover:

All microwaves use a waveguide cover to shield the opening where the microwaves in the appliance enter the main cooking cavity.

Whilst the cover may appear sturdy, over time general wear and tear can weak them. If they become faulty your microwave can become dangerous to use.

It's advisable to replace a waveguide cover at the earliest opportunity should it be damaged in any way. And replacing the cover is a straightforward task, but one which should be carried out with maximum care and attention.

Microwave Heating Categories:

The heating category of a microwave varies between A to E; and the rating is designed to indicate how quickly or slowly the microwave will heat food. For example, microwaves which fall into the E category will heat food faster than those rated A – and you'll find the rating of your microwave on the door of the appliance.

Generally, E rated microwaves are the most common and will cook between 740 and 800 watts, although this is not always accurate and it's recommended to check the food is piping hot before eating.

How to Correctly Maintain Your Gas Appliance?

Investing in gas products is a good thing and it is advisable as it means that you can save on electricity. That means that you can beat the electricity load shedding that we are all being subjected to laTely. There are many gas products that you could replace your electrical appliances with. These would include…

Investing in gas products is a good thing and it is advisable as it means that you can save on electricity. That means that you can beat the electricity load shedding that we are all being subjected to laTely. There are many gas products that you could replace your electrical appliances with. These would include the gas heater, gas geyser, gas stove and oven, plus many more. While certain electrical appliances need maintenance, others do not. So does the same apply to gas appliances?

Give your gas product an overall check. Most electrical appliances do not have to be serviced regularly. Usually people just give them quick check to see that everything is working correctly. A few things to check include that all the buttons and buttons function correctly. Also, check that there is no damage or dents on the appliance. In most cases, people only know that there is something wrong when it breaks down. With gas appliances it is not mandatory for them to be serviced, but it is good practice to check and maintain all fittings and connections are working properly.

Check the gas hose connection. With gas appliances you have to regularly check that the hose that connects to the gas cylinder. There should not be any damage to the hose, especially tears or cracks. If you suspect any damage to the hose, discontinue using it immediately and take it to a reputable gas repair center. A gas leak can be very hazardous. It is advisable to check the hose connection on your gas stove and oven as well on the gas heater. You want to ensure that the connection is properly sealed. If possible, try to remember to give your appliances an overall check every season.

Check that the gas cylinder is filled. It is also good to check when the cylinder is empty and replace it. When you start to smell a strong gas odor, then the cylinder is, most likely, running empty. Remove the cylinder and replace it with a filled one to continue the use of your gas appliance. Before you purchase a gas cylinder, though, it is best to check it for any leaks and to make sure that it is a full cylinder. Be aware of gas suppliers that only part fill a refillable gas cylinder and pass it off as a fully refilled cylinder. Make yourself familiar with a certain brand of gas supplier so that whenever you make a purchase, you know that they are trustworthy and will supply you with a full gas cylinder.

Overall, it is not a requirement to have your gas products serviced. However, it is wise to check them on a regular basis to ensure that they are in full working order.

Diagnose Tumble Dryer Faults to Keep Your Appliance Working

There are a few things which as homeowners we need to do, including cleaning floors through to washing clothes. Unfortunately with the latter, during the winter months, drying clothes can often be difficult, especially if your tumble dryer is not working to its full potential. A fact of life though, is that as with any…

There are a few things which as homeowners we need to do, including cleaning floors through to washing clothes. Unfortunately with the latter, during the winter months, drying clothes can often be difficult, especially if your tumble dryer is not working to its full potential.

A fact of life though, is that as with any appliance, tumble dryers can gain faults, which if not rectified at the earliest opportunity can lead to the efficiency of the appliance dwindling or the appliance not working completely.

To limit the chance of such faults occurring, we've taken the time to compile a list of some of the most common faults which occurs, along with tips on how to prevent / rectify such faults.

So, in no particular order the faults are …

Noise Problems:

At first glance you may not think a noisy tumble dryer is anything to worry about, that it's just an inconvenience; yet you could not be further from the truth.

There are a number of noises which your appliance could have made when in use, so the first step is to diagnose what type of noise it is that you're hearing. Once the noise has been determined you'll be able to work out the fault.

Some sounds you're likely to hear from your tumble dryer when it's in use include:

1. Constant squealing noise when the drum rotates – this is likely to be caused due to wear and tear on the belt tension pulley. The squealing will become worse as the pulley wears, causing damage to the belt and preventing the drum from turning.

2. Rumbling noise as the drum rotates – whilst a squeaking noise is likely to be caused by wear and tear on the belt tension pulley; the rumbling noise will be caused by faulty support wheels which your drum rests on.

These wheels can go out of shape and lead to the rumbling noise. To double check it is the wheels causing the rumbling sound, slowly rotate the drum and see if a regular bump is felt. If it is, the wheels will need replacing.

3. Loud hum and no drum rotation – the cause of a loud hum and no drum rotation is due to a concentrated drum. You can check this by seeing if the drum rotates by hand. If it does, you may have a failed motor or capacitor and these parts will need replacement.

A noisy tumble dryer is one of the easy problems to solve, some of the other common faults which can hinder the performance of your appliance will need a bit more hard work to rectify, but that does not mean you should shy away from these.

Whilst diagnosing faults with your tumble dryer will help to keep it working and performing for longer; taking precautions to prevent such faults occurring is also essential, such as regularly cleaning the appliance, including the filters and loading it correctly will help maintain the appliances life.

Innovative Coolness: A Closer Look at the Sub-Zero Refrigerator

The Sub-Zero refrigerator hit the market in the 1950s, and has since set the bar for appliance design and functionality. Let's take a look at this innovative piece of machinery and the company behind it. What Makes Sub-Zero Cooling Systems Special? An engineer's challenge lies in creating a device that works efficiently. This means that…

The Sub-Zero refrigerator hit the market in the 1950s, and has since set the bar for appliance design and functionality. Let's take a look at this innovative piece of machinery and the company behind it.

What Makes Sub-Zero Cooling Systems Special?

An engineer's challenge lies in creating a device that works efficiently. This means that the device should use the maximum amount of energy supplied to it in order to perform its function, with only minimal energy wasted (there will always be some energy wasted – this is just a hard fact of physics). The Sub-Zero refrigerator has earned accolades for its dual refrigeration system. This system cools and freezes food through the use of two separate, self-contained cooling units. By splitting the cooling responsibilities, this system uses energy more efficiently, and keeps food frozen and fresh for longer periods of time. These units also offer the industry's best in temperature and humidity control, and they utilize NASA-inspired air-purification technology to keep food safe from microbes and bacteria.

Aside from cooling innovations, Sub-Zero has always been known for its smart designs that flow naturally with modern kitchens. They pioneered the concept of built-in appliances, which are specifically designed to be inset with counters, cabinets, and other kitchen features. You can choose between stainless steel designs or custom paneling that fits your kitchen's feng shui.

History of the Company

Sub-Zero's illustrious story starts in a basement. Specifically, the Madison, WI, foundation of Westye F. Bakke, who constructed one of the first freestanding freezers right in his cellar in 1943. Although it was not the most glamorous of beginnings, Bakke's ingenious eye for design resulted in a freezer that performed well, but also meshed with the look and feel of the average household's kitchen. By nixing the bulky shape and replacing curves with sleek straight lines, Bakke's first designs created a prototype for the shape and look of the refrigerators we use today. By 1945, he had started the Sub-Zero Freezer Company, running daily operations out of his two-car garage.

The company has grown and expanded in the decades since Bakke's first bolt of inspiration. In the 1950s, they engineered the first built-in refrigerators, which fit seamlessly into counter counter and cabinet spaces. Another key innovation came with the company's implementation of the dual refrigeration system. This system utilizes two separate cooling units, which keeps food fresher for longer. The company expanded its scope to produce wine storage units, ranges and stovetops, coffee systems, microwaves, and other state-of-the-art appliances.

Products and Models

The built-in Sub-Zero refrigerator is the company's trademark product, ensuring you efficient cooling while also looking awesome in your kitchen. The manufacturer's other offers follow suit. Wine cooling systems are elegantly designed to keep those rare vintages properly chilled before you uncork them. These systems can be even programmed to communicate with your home security system, protecting expensive wine collections from theft. Browse the company's collection of stoves, grills, and coffee systems in order to accurate a kitchen that will serve you well for years to come.

If you're looking to remodel your kitchen, or if you just need a new, high-functioning appliance, look no farther than this top-notch brand – their passion and expertise will raise your culinary life to great new heights.

The Next Addition to Your Family: Will It Be Jibo, Pepper or Nao?

Although robots for home use have arrived, the price barrier made most unaffordable to most homes till recently. 2015 will see that change that forever. Three home robots are presented in this article – all below $ 8000. Two are new while one has already been on the market for sometime. Let's find out more…

Although robots for home use have arrived, the price barrier made most unaffordable to most homes till recently. 2015 will see that change that forever. Three home robots are presented in this article – all below $ 8000. Two are new while one has already been on the market for sometime. Let's find out more about Jibo ($ 499), Pepper ($ 1930) & Nao Next Gen ($ 7990)!

Here are a few introductions and notes before I begin:

1. Artifical Intelligence (AI). AI explains to the ability of a machine to automatically learn about / from its environment eg a pre-programmed device with an in-built computer 'sees' you for the first time and stores your picture in its internal memory. It can not associate your pic with anything it knows, so it might ask 'Who are you?'. If you reply 'I'm Bravo', it will assign the name 'Bravo' to your pic. These details are stored permanently so that, at a later point of time, if it sees you again, it might say 'Hi, Bravo!', Because it 'knows' you by now. In a similar manner, as time goes by, it will 'learn' the names and attributes of all objects in its environment. Central to most robots are AI engines that help them to get acquainted with their operating environment (s). This is also true of Jibo, Pepper & Nao Next Gen, the three robots presented in this article.

2. Humanoid Robot. According to Wikipedia, Humanoid robots are robots that have the form of the human body with head, torso, arms, legs etc. Even partial resemblance with the human body is sufficient for a robot to be included in this category.

3. In most of this article, for brevity, 'Nao Next Gen' is referred to as plain 'Nao'. Nao is the name of a family of robots from Aldebaran Robotics of France. Nao Next Gen is a home version of Nao.

4. The masculine gender is associated with all three. Consequently, each of these robots is referred to as 'he'.

JIBO

Scope: Jibo is a small robot, intended to be a friendly, low-cost home companion. He comes ready to do jobs such as assistant tasks, hands-free messaging, emotion-based connecting (based on cues like your movements, speech and facial expressions), interactive story-telling (aimed at kids) and companionship to cheer you up, when lonely. Jibo is not intended to replace human beings, nor is he capable of doing household chores like cooking, cleaning or washing.

Jibo is the brainchild of Cynthia Breazeal, MIT Media Lab Director, Personal Robots Group. He is 11 inches tall and weighs about 6 pounds. He has a head and torso, but neither arms nor legs. He can turn his head around by a full 360 degrees. Jibo is stationary and can not move by himself. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), he has the ability to 'learn' what his environment is committed of. When you begin to use him, he will first learn (and correlate) voices and faces of the people he comes across in your house. You can then assign one or more of his 'skills' to each family member based on need / suitability eg assign story-telling to your school-going son and reminding yourself of what's next on your to-do list. Whenever your son is within range, he will offer to tell him a story and if he's interested, he will tell him one. Similarly, when he makes out that you are close, he will remind you of your upcoming events / tasks, if any. He is interoperable with PCs, Android and iOS devices and comes ready to plug into your home Wi-Fi network. To keep Jibo growing and updated over time, its functionality is powered by modular 'apps' (applications). A Jibo SDK (Software Development Kit) makes it possible for third-party developers to develop Jibo apps. You are sure to find Jibo a lovable home companion!

Jibo is slated for release during 2015 Christmas. He is offered in white and black colors and priced at an eminently affordable $ 499 .

PEPPER

Scope: Pepper is designed to be a friendly home companion who can live in our homes, almost like a family member. He's a 'social' robot. What's special about him is his 'emotional' nature ie he can read human emotions and interact appropriately with us.

Pepper is a product of French firm Aldebaran Robotics (aldebaran.com), after Japan's telecom giant, SoftBank, acquired a major stake in Aldebaran in 2012. Pepper is designed to appeal primarily to the tastes of the highly robot-loving Japanese people. He is cute, friendly-looking, with big eyes and a small, inquiring, child-like voice. He is able to move. Pepper has to continuously look up when speaking to humans because he is just about 4 feet tall. He weighs 28Kg and is the most hefty among the three robots in this article. He is capable of hearing and executing voice commands. Pepper scores over Jibo & Nao by virtue of his being an 'emotional' humanoid robot. By 'emotional', I mean that he is sensitive to human emotions and will interact with us accordingly. He learns about his environment by means of his powerful AI engine; so that as time goes on, he will get to know you very well, your gadgets, tastes and so on. While learning, he also keeps updating himself with your chosen preferences so that when he has learned enough about you, you're sure to find him your most caring caring, amusing, knowledgeable, interesting and lovable companion – only next, maybe, to your pet dog! He comes with pre-installed 'knowledge' of the following human emotions: joy, surprise, anger, doubt & sadness. By analyzing your facial expressions, the words you speak and your body language, he makes out your mood and responds accordingly if you are looking sad, he may read you your favorite poem or play you your favorite song; and if you are laughing loudly, he might ask what makes you feel so happy, so that he can share in your happiness! Pepper is a 'social' robot, so you can expect him to say 'hello' even to strangers who pass by. He can connect to the Internet via Ethernet & Wi-Fi. A tablet computer is fitted to his chest, forming an alternate channel of communication with him. The tablet's screen also displays what is going on inside him. A highly noteworthy feature about Pepper is its powerful Li-ion battery, that provides for 12 hours of continuous operation before a recharge is required. He mans his own internal temperature and battery power.

Pepper will be available in SoftBank stores from February, 2015. At $ 1930, Pepper costs only as much as a high-end PC, though it is quite affordable to most homes. And he's definitely a much, much more delightful companion to have around than any PC or tablet!

Before you decide to buy, however, here's a list of things that he can / can not do, that you need to consider carefully:

CAN: Teach you a subject, give driving directions to a specific location, read a recipe aloud while you do the cooking, tell you jokes, play games with you, help you stay in touch with family & friends.

CAN NOT: Cook you a meal, fetch a drink, wash / fold clothes, wash dishes.

Note: Several important details about Pepper have either been obtained from or verified against Reference No. 1 (ie IEEE Spectrum Magazine, January 2015 issue), mentioned at the end of this article.

NAO NEXT GEN

Scope: A fully autonomous, friendly, programmable and advanced humanoid robot for use in the house and for companionship. Programmability makes Nao much superior to Jibo & Pepper because a home owner who is conversant with programming can extend / enhance / alter Nao's capabilities by customizing part of his functionality, adding new functions, creating new behaviors etc. – all these, right from home. Nao can do a few simple home tasks at present. In future, he is likely to grow more powerful and become capable of doing such long-awaited home tasks like cleaning, washing and cooking.

Nao, like Pepper, is a humanoid robot from Aldebaran Robotics (aldebaran.com). Launched in 2008, Nao first became a big hit in education all over the globe. At the time of writing this article, he is a favorite computer science teacher to students between primary school and university in over 70 countries. He has an array of mind-blowing accomplishments to his credit and continues to enjoy great success in academic institutions and industry. In early 2014, Aldebaran decided to delight the world by making this little high-tech marvel available to our homes. Like Jibo & Pepper, Nao also learns about his surroundings by means of AI. He's small and friendly-looking; 23 inches tall and weighs 4.3 Kg. He can move all limbs in his body, sit, stand and walk at different speeds avoiding collision. Nao can recognize us individually and converse with us. It can connect to the Internet using Ethernet & Wi-Fi. He can teach your child to write, fetch you a cup of coffee, entertain you by dancing in perfect synchronism with a group of other Naos, play a number of games etc. Nao is a 'beloved robot' to many in the academic community. He is responsible for significant research, teaching & training in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). He has performed in top tech shows and conferences all over the world alert high honors and accolades for himself. And there's lots & lots more to discover about Nao, if you're interested … Further, since he uses 'open source' software, he continues to evolve quickly as enthusiasts around the world are constantly writing / updating programs to make him more versatile, smart and useful! Nao's stellar success has earned him a place in the Robot Hall of Fame (robothalloffame.org), so, he's already part of history, now !!

Till recently, Aldebaran was not offering a home version of Nao due to restrictively high costs; but now, having decided to enter the home segment and at an offer price that's just half that of his illustrious (non-home) predecessors, Nao Next Gen (Nao's home version), is a dream come true to many.

At $ 7990, Nao certainly is not cheap, but if you're willing to stretch your budget a bit, he's within reach!

SUMMARY

Let me quickly summarize these three robots before winding up:

JIBO: Friendly home companion. Less than a foot tall. Weighs about 6 pounds. Stationary. Can do the following: Assistant tasks, Hands-free messaging, Connecting based on emotional cues, Story-telling & Companionship. Connects to the Internet through Wi-Fi. Automatically updates itself. Offered in black and white colors. Ships in end-2015. Price – just $ 499.

PEPPER: Near family companion. Has the ability to make out human emotions and respond accordingly. Aims to be your closest, personal friend by learning everything he can about you and adapting himself continuously. Has no legs but can move (on wheels). Can provide directions to specific locations, give you various kinds of tips, tell jokes, play games & keep you connected with family & friends. Most useful feature is caring, emotional support. Automatically updates itself. Runs on a 12-hour Li-ion battery. Manages battery power and inner temperature by himself. Will be available shortly, starting February, 2015. Costs $ 1930.

NAO NEXT GEN: Intelligent family member and small home workhorse. Has the complete form of human beings. Can move all his limbs. Is autonomous and capable of hearing, talking & walking at different speeds (adaptive walking). Automatically avoids collision when walking. Can be programmed at home. Can teach you fairly complex topics, teach kids writing, fetch you a drink from your refrigerator, entertain & play challenging games with you. Keeps him up to date by himself. Comes from the family of world-renown and respected Nao robots, some of his predecessors already having entered the Robot Hall of fame (robothalloffame.org). Already on the market. Price – $ 7990.

References:

1. Erico Guizzo, “A Robot in the Family,” IEEE Spectrum , January, 2015.

What Should and Shouldn’t You Keep In Your Fridge?

Whilst it is important to keep your fridge clean, running, well maintained and at a steady temperature; to help keep your appliance running it's also important to make sure you're storing the right things within it. To help make sure you're storing the right food inside your fridge, below we've outdone some of the food…

Whilst it is important to keep your fridge clean, running, well maintained and at a steady temperature; to help keep your appliance running it's also important to make sure you're storing the right things within it.

To help make sure you're storing the right food inside your fridge, below we've outdone some of the food you should and should not refrigerate – despite common misconceptions.

Do not Refrigerate:

There are some foods which as a child your parents may have kept in the fridge and through habit you've also opted to store there; under the belief that doing so helps them last for longer.

However, there's a long list of foods which if you want to get the best out of them should not be kept in your fridge, and these include:

• Onions – naturally these have a long shelf life and do not need the humid conditions of the salad crisper drawer. Instead, your affairs should be kept in a cool, dry, dark cupboard.

• Tomatoes – keeping tomatoes in the fridge can affect their taste. It can also result in them going off quicker. To keep your tomatoes tastier and fresher for longer, store them in an open container on your kitchen worktop.

• Honey – when kept in the fridge, honey is likely to crystallize. Ideally, it should be stored in a dry place, at room temperature – even once opened.

• Citrus Fruits – lemons, as we've previously discussed, can be great to use around the home. However, your lemons and other citrus fruits should never be stored in the fridge. Storing citrus fruits in such a fashion will cause “chill damage” which will lead to rougher peel and the fruits becoming drier inside.

• Melon – the melon is slightly different to the rest of the food listed above. If it has not been sliced, then it should not be kept in the fridge; instead it should be kept at room temperature to keep the antioxidant levels intact. Once cut however, the melon should be kept in the fridge.

Do Refrigerate:

Whilst there are some food products which everyone keeps in the fridge, such as milk, cheese and cream, there are those products which fall on the fence as to where the best place to store them is.

To get the best out of such products it is best to keep some of them refrigerated, including the following:

• Ketchup – previously ketchup had high salt and sugar content, meaning it did not need to be kept chilled. However, with the salt and sugar content being reduced, it is now recommended to keep your ketchup refrigerated; and this can help maintain its quality for up-to 6 months.

• Mayonnaise – the ingredients which make up mayonnaise, particularly eggs and cream, can spoil quickly which means your mayonnaise must be kept in the fridge.

• Pickles – pickles such as gherkins and pickled onions once opened can stay fresh and edible for up-to a year within the fridge. The same is true for brine packed jars of olives.

• Mustard – before being opened, as with many condiments, these can be stored inside a cupboard. As soon as opened though, mustard should be kept inside the fridge.

Knowing which products to store in your fridge will help you to keep unpleas odours at bay. Are there any other products which you can think of which should or should not be kept refrigerated, but often are? Share them in the comment section below.

Space Heater Safety

Space heaters are great for heating individual rooms like living rooms, bedrooms, or offices. An energy efficient electric heater is capable of heating an average sized room in about 15 minutes. During the colder months, as the temperature outside drops, the cost of your energy bill could be on the rise as you try to…

Space heaters are great for heating individual rooms like living rooms, bedrooms, or offices. An energy efficient electric heater is capable of heating an average sized room in about 15 minutes. During the colder months, as the temperature outside drops, the cost of your energy bill could be on the rise as you try to heat your home. Space heaters are a great way to help reduce the heating cost of your home. When used as supplement heat sources, space heaters are a wonderful way to keep warm. Knowing how to properly use a portable heater will help keep your family and your pets safe.

When discussing space heater safety, here are a few things you should know:

1. Follow the 3 foot rule and keep flammable items, furniture, paper, clothes and curtains at least three feet away from your heater.

2. Keep children and pets away from your space heater.

3. Be sure to inspect your heater's power chord to ensure it is not damaged or frayed.

4. Place the heater on a level and stable surface to reduce the chance of knocking it over.

5. Purchase a heater that has been certified as safe to use by either the Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) or Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Look for the certification symbol on the heater's box when purchasing.

6. Ensure that your heater is securely plugged into a power outlet.

7. Turn your heater off if you are going to be in another room, or away from your home.

8. Never use electric heaters near water or in moist, humid environments like the bathroom.

Be sure to research, the right space heater for your needs. Purchase the heater that is the right size for your heating needs. Here, size does not refer to physical dimensions, but instead, size reflects to the heating capacity of your heater. Most portable heaters sold today have a heating capacity of 1,500 watts. There are some heaters that have lower heating capacities ranging from 600 – 900 watts. Electric heaters with smaller heat capacities, are good for heating smaller rooms, such as those with areas less than 1,000 square feet. The last thing you want to do is spend money buying a heater that is unstable of supplying your heating needs.

You should also consider the built in safety features of the space heater. For example, a tip-over switch will shut the heater off if it gets knocked over. An overheat switch will automatically, turn the heater off if it gets too hot. Tight grill spacing provides a great barrier for protecting pets and curious little fingers from touching the heating element inside the heater casing. Lastly, purchasing a space heater with a cool touch casing will reduce the chance of someone being burned. Following the tips above, will help reduce the chance of fires started from space heater usage.

Fulfilling Your Family’s Freezer Fantasies

As the size of your family grows, you may find your standard refrigerator freezer bursting at the seams. If your needs and eating habits include large amounts of frozen or pre-packaged food, it may be wise to expand. Upright and chest style iceboxes are perfect for either commercial or residential use. Chests are available in…

As the size of your family grows, you may find your standard refrigerator freezer bursting at the seams. If your needs and eating habits include large amounts of frozen or pre-packaged food, it may be wise to expand. Upright and chest style iceboxes are perfect for either commercial or residential use. Chests are available in a range of sizes and can take up a lot of space, yet they remain energy efficient. Uprights are not usually available in larger sizes, yet the average family's needs are just as easily met. If space is tight, they may be the better option.

Chest

Chest freezers are available in a range of shapes and sizes up to 25 cubic feet. They're usually used in commercial settings but can also be useful at home, providing you have the space. Color choices are limited with white being the most commonly available. Cool air does not rise as quickly as heat; therefore, it does not escape as easily when the lid is opened. As a result, chests are able to conserve more energy. They also feature built-in insulation in each sidewall. In the event of a power loss, they can even keep food cold for up to 48 hours. Because of their large size, they are often stored in less utilized areas of the home like the garage, laundry room, basement, and utility shed or storage space. The large amount of storage space inside can also make it difficult to keep organized. Another important thing to consider is safety: small children and shorter than average people can have difficulty reaching into the fridge and can potentially lose their balance and fall inside.

Upright

Upright freezers are a bit more reasonable for the average family's needs. Although they require height and room to open the doors, they're usually not as large as a chest style. There are many more style and color options available so it can blend into any kitchen easily. Equipped with shelving units and drawers, uprights are much more family-friendly when it comes to organization and access. Although, you may have difficulty trying to store larger items like turkeys or racks of meat. They are easier to clean and far less cumbersome than a chest freezer. However, they are not nearly as energy efficient and normally cost a bit more than a chest model of roughly the same size.

Making a Decision

Which style is right for you? If you're looking for the most economic way to store a large amount of food, the chest style is probably your best bet. They're ideal for storing seasonal game meat and large amounts of frozen goods. If you want something a bit more practical and stylish, an upright would be more ideal. Although they cost a bit more, they're better suited for keeping things organized and easily accessible for your family. Regardless of which style you choose, selecting an Energy Star Qualified model will ensure optimum energy efficiency. Assess your family's lifestyle and needs in order to make the right choice.

How to Choose the Best Washer and Dryer for Your Household

Choosing the best appliances for your household can be time-consuming and difficult, but it does not have to be. By considering your lifestyle and making decisions about a few factors in advance – things like family size, workload, space, economics, and allergies – you can walk away with the ideal washer and dryer for your…

Choosing the best appliances for your household can be time-consuming and difficult, but it does not have to be. By considering your lifestyle and making decisions about a few factors in advance – things like family size, workload, space, economics, and allergies – you can walk away with the ideal washer and dryer for your family.

Family Size

Family size is perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing the capacity of your appliances. A family of two adults, or an adult and small children, can likely get by with a regular-capacity, stackable washer and dryer combo. The larger the family – in number and in size – the higher capacity necessary. For example, two adults and two toddlers will not necessarily need the same capacity as four adult-sized family members. However, if you are planning to increase your family size or hope to keep the same appliances running as your toddlers age into attention, review consumer data for medium- and high-capacity machines. Pay special attention to their warranties and the average longevity of said machines.

Workload

Along the same lines as family size is workload size. How frequently do you expect using these appliances over the coming weeks, months, and years? Some houses launder only on the weekends; others run a load or two every day. Is your family filled with rugby players or farmhands? You'll likely need a high-capacity, heavy-duty unit. Does your family spot-clean blouses and slacks and only launder clothes after a couple of wears? Low-capacity, low-power washers should work just fine for your household.

Space

Space, no matter the size and activity level of your family, might prevent you from purchasing the appliance combo you really need. However, in this age of advancing technology, smaller does not always mean less powerful. Some manufacturers have found a way to make high-efficiency and high-capacity stackable and portable machines. But smaller spaces are not the only logistical challenge. If you are moving into an older construction, most laundry rooms were not configured for the monster units manufactured today. Before plunking down your credit card for a super-deluxe, steam-drying, high-capacity, self-folding behemoth, measure your laundry space. Pay particular attention to how close your water valves and dryer sockets are. Without you want to rewire the electricity in your laundry area, the abundance of these two accoutrements will determine just how big and tall your appliances can be.

Economics

The price of the washer and dryer set is, of course, very important. But remember you are paying for appliances that will hopefully last decades. Economics is not just about the price tag at the box store; it's understanding the other ways that the appliances will save or cost you money over the years. One of the promises newer units tout is the Energy Star savings you'll gain by purchasing particular machines. It's true that the cost of energy often makes more of a difference than the cost of water (unless you are washing the entire rugby team's uniforms each week). Some laundry detergents even proclaim to be energy efficient, which is true if they are formed to work in cold water. Cold water washing equals less energy expended, whatever the Energy Star rating of the machine.

Allergies

Finally, if members of the household are allergy sufferers, there are now appliance combos that include anti-allergen and sanitizing cycles. For those with severe allergies, skin sensitivity, or skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema, investing in such washer and dryer sets may be a wise investment in your family's well-being.

How To Stop a Vacuum Cleaner From Smelling

Due to their regular use and as a result of the pressures that they put under, from time to time our vacuum cleaners may begin to emit unpleant odours. The main reasons for your vacuum cleaner often emitting unpleasant odors is a build up of dirt, dust and debris in the bag or cylinder. The…

Due to their regular use and as a result of the pressures that they put under, from time to time our vacuum cleaners may begin to emit unpleant odours. The main reasons for your vacuum cleaner often emitting unpleasant odors is a build up of dirt, dust and debris in the bag or cylinder.

The first stage of eliminating odors from your vacuum is to regularly empty the bag, if using a bagged vacuum. If you've got a bagless model, it's important to make sure that you regularly empty the cylinder and clean the filter in warm water, allowing it to dry before placing it back in the cleaner.

Once the vacuum has been emptied, sprinkle an air freshener into the bag or inside the cylinder, as this will bring a pleasant aroma to your home as you vacuum.

Should unpleas odors continue to come from your vacuum please follow the above tips, you may need to give the various components of your vacuum a once over. The main areas to check are:

The Hose

Debris can become clogged within the hose of your vacuum. This can not only limit the suction provided by the hose; but it can also result in odors building up and being pushed around the home as the vacuum is used.

Agitator Brush

Being one of the main parts of the vacuum that comes into contact with dirt and debris, on occasion loose hair can get around around it, which can in turn cause other debris to get stuck. If this is left to build up, odors are likely to occur.

Attachments

Whether it's a crevice attachment, dusting brush or stair tool, dirt can become lodged in various attachments which come with your vacuum. If left to build up, the dirt can contribute to the build up of unpleasant odors.

Whilst these odors can be prepared through regular cleaning and the use of air fresheners, on occasion our vacuums can emit other unpleasant odors, which are more mechanical or burning. Such odors are not necessarily caused by the build up of dirt or dust; but instead are as a result of faults occurring with the appliance.

The cause of such smells can vary on the fault; for example if there's a burning smell with an excuse vacuum the cause could be due to the drive belt slipping out of position or becoming jammed and causing friction.

Other causes of burning smells in a vacuum cleaner could have been the result of a full vacuum bag or clogged up take valves putting extra and unnecessary pressure on the motor, which can have adverse effects.

Should you find the smells being emitted from your vacuum are a result of a mechanical fault, in our advice center you'll find expert advice from our team of engineers on how to diagnose and repair faults.

In addition to our advice center we also have a range of vacuum cleaner spare parts and accessories to help you keep your vacuum running at its top performance for longer.

Are Gas Stoves Better Than Electric Stoves?

Over recent years we've seen more and more gas stoves enter the market. Many retailers now also sell gas stoves along with the traditional electric stoves. You are probably used to using the electrical stove and presumably you probably are quite fed up with the lack of electricity resources in the country. Load shedding has…

Over recent years we've seen more and more gas stoves enter the market. Many retailers now also sell gas stoves along with the traditional electric stoves. You are probably used to using the electrical stove and presumably you probably are quite fed up with the lack of electricity resources in the country. Load shedding has taken over our lives and we have to work around it and that's why many people are turning to gas stoves. But are gas stoves better than electric stoves?

We are so used to electric stoves that it just feels like second nature to purchase one and to use it. After all, before load shedding we did not even consider looking at a gas stove. It was just something that was also in the retail store but not really something that you would desire to buy. The most significant factor about electrical stoves is that it uses electricity. You simply plug it into the wall and there you go, it is ready to use. This makes it easy to install and quick to start using. Cooking and baking in it is also quite easy to do because you have probably grown up with one and your mother has taught you to cook on one. On the other hand, it does rely on electricity so you are subject to load shedding. And even though there is a load shedding schedule, you electricity can still be cut out at any time during the day. So this is not ideal if you have a pot of food cooking on the stove.

That is why people turn to gas because you do not have to worry about unwanted electric cuts. Once you find one that you love, you'll have to install it in your kitchen. Be sure to find a reputable gas installation expert to install your gas cylinders and stove and request that you receive a Certificate of Compliances upon the completion of the installation. It's very important from as safety aspect. This installation process only needs to be done once, thank goodness but once it's done, you're ready to cook. Using a gas stove, in terms of cooking and baking, is quite similar to that of the electrical version. A few differences are as follows:

  • A gas stove and oven will heat up much quicker as it provides instant heat and you do not have to wait long for it to heat up. This is ideal if you have a family to cook for and need to prepare meals quickly
  • Gas stoves are efficient and reliable and do not depend on the unpredictable supply of electricity.
  • Gas stoves need to be installed by a registered LPGSASA installer and you are required to get the relevant safety certification.

There are distinct differences between the two stoves but which one is better will depend on your personal preference as both have their advantages.