From One Cup Coffee Makers to "Smart" Refrigerators: Kitchen Appliances Catch Up with the Speed of Life
The modern kitchen would not be complete without a refrigerator, an oven, a microwave, and a coffee maker. As fixtures in one of the most important rooms in the house, these appliances are on the forefront of the battle for greater convenience and lower energy costs. Here is a look at a few of the technological makeovers which can help you save both time and money.
Has this ever happened to you? On your way home from work, you stop at the supermarket for groceries. While picking up food for dinner, you can't remember whether there's a steak in the freezer or if you still have enough butter for the mashed potatoes. Instead of placing a call to your significant other, let your refrigerator check the inventory for you.
Using a cell phone, it is possible to remotely access an up-to-the-minute list of the contents of the "smart" refrigerator via an Internet connection. LG Electronic's Internet Refrigerator is capable of alerting its user when a product has expired. The potential for this technology is enormous, but the limited availability of online grocery services has slowed its spread. Manufacturers hope to eventually develop a system by which refrigerators will not just keep tabs on the food inside, but will make lists of what is needed and automatically place an order with online grocers.
One drawback of the current technology is the effort that goes into keeping your refrigerator's records up-to-date. As the refrigerator is stocked, the product names and expiration dates must be logged manually. When an item is removed from the refrigerator, the data must be entered as well. The convenience of knowing what's in your refrigerator at any time may be outweighed by the inconvenience of keeping such meticulous records.
Another popular focus for the newly-developed technology involves reducing energy costs. For instance, the Fisher & Paykell Active Smart Refrigerator offers multiple energy-conserving features which, when combined, contribute to the overall efficiency of the product. The Active Smart electronic intelligence and multiple sensors monitor the internal temperature while a Variable Capacity Compressor ensures the refrigerator runs at its peak.
Energy-efficiency is particularly important when it comes to refrigerators because they are the only kitchen appliances that run 24-hours per day. By purchasing ecologically-friendly technology you'll reduce your electricity bills and keep more money in your wallet.
Convenient Coffee Makers
A recent development in coffee consumption is the vacuum brewing system, as highlighted by the Clear Electric Santos coffee maker by Bodum. The machine promises to brew six to twelve cups of strong coffee within eight minutes using an easy-to-clean filtration system. This is an ideal appliance for people who love a full-bodied cup of joe.
The days of boiling whole pots of water just to have a single cup of coffee are over. The one cup coffee maker can brew your favorite gourmet tea or coffee in less than a minute, eliminating the need to prepare a whole pot. For people on-the-go, these fast brewing machines are a welcome addition to the home or workplace.
The single cup coffee maker is also a great energy saver. In the time it might take to heat up one pot of regular coffee or to drive over to Starbucks, a one cup coffee maker by Keurig can brew several differently flavored hot drinks in 40 seconds each. Another perk of this machine is the variety of drinks it can produce. Keurig provides customers with over 70 different coffee or tea "K-Cups" from which to choose. K-Cups are easy-to-insert dispensers, which fit neatly into the coffee company's machine with little effort and no clean-up.
Forget slaving over a hot stove for hours just to get dinner on the table. Thanks to new ovens with automatic time and temperature controls dinner can practically make itself. Want a meal to be ready by the time you get home? Simply place your favorite dish in the oven and let the appliance do the rest.
The Intelligent Oven by TMIO refrigerates food until the user activates the cooking function. The oven's Internet connectivity allows you to control this feature remotely with your cell phone or computer. Meals are not only delicious, but perfectly timed for your convenience. Additional advances have made the product safer and more energy-efficient, making it both user- and environmentally-friendly.
For real fast food, look for appliances such as the Sharp High Speed Convection/Microwave Oven. A 5-pound roasted chicken would take up to 140 minutes or more in a standard oven but, with the new high-speed ovens, the same meal can be ready within 28 minutes. By using a mix of super-heated circulating air and microwave energy, meals cook up to 80 percent faster.
In a step that brings to mind scenes from a work of science-fiction, General Electric is among the companies developing ovens which respond to voice commands and recognize over 200 regional accents. Rather than pushing a pre-set button, key phrases would activate the already programmed cooking times and temperatures. Such technology may not be a long way off, but its price tag may prove to be beyond the reach of many consumers.
Trying to find quick and easy recipes? Put down the cookbook. You can easily download hundreds of recipes directly from your microwave with the push of a button.
Using the LG Lifestyle MG-5682NL microwave oven, you can download recipes or other cooking information from the company's web site. Sharp also sells a microwave that downloads cooking instructions for various meals, then automatically programs the time and power settings required to zap your meal to perfection.
In a slight variation on the theme, a new microwave by Samsung is programmed to read cooking directions by scanning product bar codes with a special sensor. The microwave then pulls the specific cooking instructions off the Internet and cooks the meal accordingly.
Many models now come with cooking pre-sets for popular food items, such as popcorn or frozen meals. Simply press one of the clearly-labeled option buttons on the microwave's touchpad and the appliance will automatically adjust the time and power level.
Another feature that you won't want your microwave to be without is a moisture sensor. Microwaves heat food by using radio waves to excite the molecules. To prevent overcooking your food, the moisture sensor will calculate how much time is still needed to cook based on how long it took for the food to begin steaming.
Since the kitchen is a natural hub of activity for any household, a few small changes can mean big savings in more ways than one. These kitchen innovations will not only free up more of your time, but can help you save money on the monthly energy bills. A little efficiency can go a long way!
R.L. Fielding has been a freelance writer for 10 years, offering her expertise and skills to a variety of major organizations in the education, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing industries. She lives in New Jersey with her dog and two cats and enjoys rock climbing and ornamental gardening.