If you’ve been shopping for major appliances, you’ve probably been frustrated by poor selection and repeated delays. “AHAM has been very involved in a coalition of associations that have worked together since the beginning of the supply chain issues,” comments Jill Notini, Vice President of the Appliance Manufacturers Associationadding, “It’s not just the home appliance industry that’s facing delays, but since the pandemic has highlighted the importance of home appliances in our daily lives, we’ve been reaching out for help. from every angle to help bring new devices into homes faster.”
It would probably be a welcome relief for Molly McCabe, kitchen designer and general contractor based on Bainbridge Island in the Seattle area. Design and renovation professionals like her have been dealing with issues like these for over a year, with no end in sight. At the same time, demand is growing and customers, stuck at home for so long, are more interested than ever in their health, well-being and home environment.
“During the pandemic, household appliances have become absolutely essential to our health and well-being,” observes Notini. “They help us prepare nutritious meals, save money by keeping food fresh for longer periods of time, and protect us by offering features that sanitize clothes and dishes.”
McCabe reports increased interest in steam ovens and sous vide capability, both of which can help prepare these nutritious meals, as well as more requests for cooktops and induction cookers. “It’s a way to preserve the quality of indoor air compared to gas,” she explains. Customers are also drawn to the family benefit of induction of not having an open flame that could burn young children or other vulnerable family members.
“Some cooking appliances offer new features, such as sous vide, air frying and steaming,” comments Notini. “Each of these has the benefit of bringing out flavors, requiring less salt, fat or oil when cooking, and preserving healthy nutrients,” she observes.
Many exhibitors at the 2022 kitchen and bath industry show featured multi-function ovens with a combination of cooking technologies, including new air sous vide, air frying, convection, slow cook, etc., and connectivity features like peering in on food and turning off the heat from your phone or tablet.
Kitchen ventilation promoting well-being
McCabe is also seeing increased customer interest in improving kitchen ventilation, she says. Awareness of indoor air quality has certainly been heightened due to Covid and related pollution issues.
One of the recent trends highlighted at KBIS and the International Builders’ Show is connected fan technology that ‘reads’ the cooktop to optimize performance. Each exhibition presents new offers with this functionality. Broan NuTone launched a brand-independent smart range hood at IBS last February that will work with cooktops from any manufacturer.
McCabe also sees interest in improved refrigeration, a trend seen extensively at KBIS. It’s not a new phenomenon, but rising food prices are increasing the importance of keeping your food – especially healthy ones – fresh for longer. “Refrigeration that uses dual compressors and/or technology to preserve the shelf life of perishable contents” is a priority for McCabe customers.
As people entertain themselves more at home, especially outdoors to take advantage of the warmer weather, longer daylight hours and reduced risk of exposure to Covid, the refrigeration of outdoor and home bars is also fashionable. New models offer cleaner craft ice, in-drawer wine storage, and flexible drawers that convert from freezing to chilling wine to standard refrigeration in the same space.
Devices for cleaning dishes and clothes have also become more focused on well-being. “The disinfection cycle was rediscovered during the pandemic,” says Notini. “Many owners had these features on their products and rarely, if ever, used them. But, when sanitizing and sanitizing became a part of everyday life, people engaged the sanitizing cycles in their clothes and dishwashers. »
Fabric refreshers and cooling features in washer dryer sets are also gaining popularity. They can remove allergens from clothing, bedding, towels, stuffed animals and other common household items. “Wash centers have emerged as new innovations to add wellness benefits,” Notini comments.
In dishwashers, third racks have become ubiquitous, a benefit for those with heavier cleaning loads through cooking and home consumption. Stainless steel interiors, which are easier to clean, are also becoming commonplace.
More Americans than ever are living with some form of physical limitation. This includes a significant percentage of our growing elderly population, as well as others with vision, hearing, energy, immunity and mobility issues. These health conditions often require home accommodations. Appliance manufacturers, kitchen designers and occupational therapists are mobilizing to meet their needs.
“Designing a major appliance that incorporates usability considerations for a wide range of ages and ability levels is a win-win solution for both consumer and manufacturer,” says Debra YoungPhiladelphia-area occupational therapist specializing in inclusive design and a certified environmental modification specialist.
Appliance makers seem to be on board (as they too are watching demographic trends), with new offerings offering more accessible controls on washer-dryer pairs, side-opening ovens, dishwasher drawers, smarter technology and more accessibility-aware alerts.
The redundancy of alerts is helpful, she says. “Whether a person is busy doing other things or has forgotten about laundry or cooking, alarms and notifications are both helpful and safe. Ranges and cooktops that provide a visual cue to alert that the surface is still hot after cooking provide visual and cognitive protection.
“Integrating LED lighting inside appliances, now including the dishwasher, is helpful to all users and especially people who may need more light due to vision-related changes. at age,” says Young. “Some manufacturers have taken it a step further by allowing inside-the-door viewing to see the contents of your refrigerator without having to open the door,” she adds.
Occupational therapist sees many new technology offerings that help users of different abilities. “Large appliances are beginning to offer voice control functionality within the device as well as through smart home hubs such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. When paired with smart devices, you can adjust the duration and oven temperature, adjust your fridge temperature, make grocery lists, or open the fridge door hands-free,” notes Young.
She also sees more connected features that make cooking, shopping and cleaning easier overall. “Being able to perform tasks from your smart device is convenient for everyone. However, these features can make all the difference for some people who are independent and safe at home,” she observes.
McCabe, who also creates kitchens for customers with health and mobility issues, agrees. “If a kitchen is not only easy to navigate, but also easy to use, the owner is likely to cook ‘more’ and get better nutrition for a healthy life.”
The designer-entrepreneur would also like to see more wellness-promoting major appliance models in all three categories – cooking, cleaning and refrigeration – being offered at different price points, she says. McCabe’s goal: “Helping consumers of various income brackets achieve health and well-being through their devices.” »
Now if only that delivery truck showed up this week!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Young, Notini and McCabe will share their thoughts on home appliances in an hour-long conversation at the Clubhouse tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 p.m. EST/1:00 p.m. Pacific. You can participate in this discussion WELLNESS WEDNESDAY here. If you can’t attend, you can watch the recording via Clubhouse Replays or the Gold Notes design blog here the following Wednesday.