How to Use a Washer Dryer Combo

washer dryer combo

You needed a laundry solution.  You were tired of trekking to a wash room or laundromat (washeteria for my friends in Louisiana).  You did the research and figured a washer dryer combo is what will fit your needs.   Now that you have this beautiful piece of equipment, what do you do with it?  Here are some simple guidelines to follow to help you use your combo most effectively.

Choose Your Load Size

Most units have a 13 to 15 pound capacity, though LG makes a unit with a 22 pound capacity.  13 to 15 pounds is about 3 complete outfits (pants, shirt, socks and undergarments), or about 6 to 8 bath towels.  It is important not to overload the unit, as it will not get your clothes as clean as they can be and it will be harder for the unit to dry the clothes.

Combo Washer Dryer Detergent

Next comes the detergent.  It is imperative that you use a low sudsing, high efficiency detergent, something with that cute little HE symbol on it.

HE Symbol

"Cute Little HE Symbol"

Powder works best, but if you prefer a liquid, go for it.  With these units, about two heaping tablespoons is all you need.  Most units will also have a space for fabric softener.  This is highly recommended because it helps to cut down on wrinkles, and generally makes your load soft afterwards.  There will also be a place to add bleach.  As with the detergent, powder bleach will work best, but you can use liquid just fine.  Be sure not to use too much though!

Water Setup

If you have the unit hooked to separate hot and cold water outlets, then you just choose whichever setting will work for your load.  Now, if you have the unit hooked to just one outlet with a faucet adapter and Y connector, you should use just cold water.  If you want to wash something in hot, set the machine for hot water and the unit will heat the water for you.  Also, cold water helps the unit dry the clothes better than hot water (weird, I know, but trust me on this one).

Final Tips

Now, just load the clothes, put in the detergent, choose your cycle, and you are off and running.  Keep in mind, once the cycle starts, the door will lock and you will be unable to open until the entire cycle is finished.  You can set these units to wash only, dry only or both.  Generally, a full wash and dry cycle takes about 3 hours.

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Best Appliances for a Boat

Life in a boat can be great, especially if you have the conveniences of home.  Here are some appliances that will help make your boating experience as comfortable as can be.

EdgeStar Portable Ice MakerPortable Ice Maker

While out boating, who doesn’t enjoy a nice tall glass of iced tea?  Well, you need ice for that, and a portable ice maker is a great way to give you the ice you want and need.  These units do not require a drain, and are relatively simple to use.  Just pour water in the reservoir, choose your ice size, and voila, ice appears in about 10 minutes (depending on model).

My favorite is the EdgeStar IP210SS.  This baby will make about 28 pounds of ice per day, holds about 2 pounds, and makes ice in as little as 6 minutes.  Plus, the commercial grade stainless steel means that it will not corrode in the salty sea air.  A quick tip though, if you use bottled water in your machine, you will want to add a tiny pinch of salt.  Most of these ice makers need some type of impurity in the water to make the ice.

Avanti Induction CooktopInduction Cooktop

You gotta eat, right?  I mean, you are out on the boat, you catch some fish, why not cook it up and serve it?  Fish, it’s what’s for dinner!  Anyway, an induction cooktop I think is a better choice than a regular hotplate or portable stove for a boat because they are generally safer and use less energy. An induction cooktop only heats the cooking vessel, so the actual cooking surface is cold to the touch, which helps prevent burns.

I am partial to the Avanti IHP1501.  It’s small and portable, has easy controls, and heats up to 440 degrees.  Best of all, it comes with a skillet, so no trying to hunt down an induction ready piece of cookware.  This unit comes with one.

EdgeStar 63 Qt Portable Fridge/FreezerPortable Fridge / Freezer

My coworker and I argued over this point, and since I’m writing this and she’s not, guess who won.  Basically, her point is that a mini fridge would be better.  I say a portable because it has both a 115V and a 12V option.  Plus, you will get more use out of it because it can go in the car with you and you can use it camping, hunting or fishing.

Now, these come in various sizes, but I chose to just go relatively down the middle with the EdgeStar FP630.  I am in love with this unit because it comes with a flash freeze option that will get it down to -8 degrees F in a matter of minutes.  And, it will hold the temperature for several hours if you unplug the unit.  However, you can set the temperature as high as 50 degrees, so you can use it as a refrigerator or a freezer.  This is also a favorite among fishermen (or women, whatever the case may be).

EdgeStar Portable Air ConditionerPortable Air Conditioner

Last summer, while I was vacationing in South Texas, I cruised around the Gulf of Mexico in a rather nice boat.  Not sure if you have ever been in South Texas in August, but it’s like being 3 blocks from the sun.  Enter the wonderful portable air conditioner.  Now, like all air conditioners, these units have to be vented in some way.  You can do it through a wall, ceiling, floor, window, whatever.  You just have to be certain to get the hot air coming off the compressor out of the room you are trying to cool.

My pick is the EdgeStar AP8000W.  This compact unit is powerful, will keep your cabin cool, and only uses 840Watts and 7.9Amps.  Plus, it will dehumidify up to 71 pints per day, and you don’t have to empty condensation from the collection tray.  Trust me, a comfortable cabin makes for a happy boater!

LG Washer Dryer ComboWasher Dryer Combo

Ok, so if you live in a houseboat, or are going to be on the water for an extended period of time, clean underwear, and well, clean clothes in general, are a necessity!  You have several options to help you with this.  A value option is the WonderWash and MiniSpin dryer combo, affectionately called The WonderSpin!  The WonderWash is a hand cranked clothes washer.  You basically put your clothes in, add water and detergent, spin it for about 5 minutes, drain the water into a sink, add more water for a rinse, drain, and you are done.  You then put your wet clothes into the MiniSpin.  This will spin dry your clothes for you to then hang them up.

Now, if you have the room, and the money, then you may want to consider a washer dryer combo.  These units will wash and dry all in the same drum, and most do not need venting because they use condensation drying.  Your best option on these, in my opinion, is the LG WM3455HW.  It has a 15 pound load capacity (2.7 cubic feet), and several washing and drying options.  Because of the condensation drying, most of these machines do not dry effectively.  However, the LG does a better job than most.  Also, you can get the optional portability kit that will allow you to store it in one place, then wheel it out when you need to and hook to a standard sink.  Finally, the great thing about this unit is that it plugs into a standard 115V outlet, so no special wiring is needed.

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Buyer’s Guide: The Different Types of Humidifiers

There are several reasons why I hate winter.  One, ITS FREAKING COLD!  Two, it gets dark so early, and I hate leaving work when it’s dark.  Three, ITS FREAKING COLD!  Four, the air is so dry that I go through lotion like water.  And, finally, ITS FREAKING COLD!

Though I can’t do anything about the sun rising and setting or how cold it is outside, I can control how dry it is inside my home.  Enter, the wonderful world of humidifiers!  This lovely invention will provide moisture in your environment, which is great if you are an asthma or allergy sufferer, or get that dreaded winter cold, or just breathe easier with a little moisture in the air.  Now, there are several types of humidifiers and I will go through some of the more popular and provide what I think are the best ones.  So, let’s get moist up in here!

Crane Warm Mist HumidifierWarm Mist Humidifiers

Warm mist humidifiers product a warm, soothing mist that you can see and feel. These are great for treating colds and the flu, and they tend to be quieter than cool mist humidifiers.  In addition, the mist that is produced tends to be cleaner than cool mist humidifiers.  However, warm mist humidifiers require frequent cleaning and are generally more difficult to clean.  They also tend to cover a smaller area than their cool mist counterparts.  And, since some of them produce a rather hot steam, you should keep them out of the reach of children.  That said, this is a great choice to help soothe a dry area and provide a little warmth at the same time.

My favorite warm mist humidifier is the Crane EE-5200.  It has a one gallon tank that will give you a minimum of 10 hours before it has to be refilled, and has an automatic shut off when the tank is empty.  Also, it features various fan speeds and has a built-in reservoir for steam medication.  It is available in both white and black, though I am partial to the black.  Finally, it is compact and lightweight, so you can take it with you from room to room.

Vornado Cool Mist HumidifierCool Mist Humidifiers

Cool mist humidifiers use a filter to trap minerals and impurities and then a cool invisible mist evaporates into the air. They are generally easy to clean, are more effective in larger areas and work better in warmer climates.  Also, many believe cool mist is easier to breathe.  But, cool mist units are generally noisier than their warm mist counterparts, and require more maintenance with filters that you should change often to avoid algae and mold build up.

My cool mist humidifier of choice is the Vornado HU1-0021-28 (formerly the EVHUM).  This unit covers a large area (up to 1,000 square feet), has an impressive 1.8 gallon tank and comes with Vornado’s patented whole room circulation.  Another great feature is that it has a humidistat control on it, so you can set the humidity level you want and the unit will maintain that setting.

 Essick Air Whole House HumidifierWhole House Humidifiers

Whole house humidifiers will cover a large area. Now, many people tend to get these point-of-use units confused with ones that you attach to your furnace or HVAC system.  This is not that.  These will cover large areas without the expense of adding it to your HVAC system.  These units tend  to be larger and thus will not go from room to room.  However, with large tanks (generally around 5 gallons), you can go a few days between filling.  A few things to remember when you get a larger unit like this is that you do have to clean the tanks and the unit itself about once a week, and there are filters and wicks that you should change out about every three months or so.  A couple of tips on using these units.  If you are trying to cover two separate floors, you will want to have it on the upper floor since humid air tends to be heavier than drier air.  Second, you will want to try to use filtered, bottled or distilled water to avoid the “white dust” that humidifiers tend to produce.

My choice among these units is the Essick Air 4D7800.  It’s a console style with a 5.5 gallon water holding capacity (split among two tanks).  This unit will cover up to 2,500 square feet, and has a replaceable two stage air filter.  Also, it comes on casters, so you can move it from one room to another, and it has a humidistat control for you to set the humidity level you are most comfortable with.

Vornado Ultrasonic HumidifierUltrasonic Humidifiers

Ultrasonic humidifiers use a metal diaphragm vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency, much like a speaker.  This creates water droplets that are then put in the air via a fan.  These units tend be virtually silent, and usually create a cool fog.  As with whole home humidifiers, you can get the “white dust” with these units, but if you use distilled, filtered or bottled water, this is usually avoided.  Also, these tend to require less maintenance and are rather easy to own and care for.

My favorite ultrasonic humidifier, and favorite overall humidifier, is the Vornado HU1-0022-06 (formerly the ULHUM).  This unit comes with a plethora of features, including a full LCD display screen, humidistat control and can do warm or cool mist!  With Vornado’s patented vortex action, this will cover a pretty sizable room and is virtually silent.  Now, when you purchase this unit, be sure to get the replacement demineralization cartridge, which helps remove the minerals from your water and eliminate that annoying “white dust.”

Now, this just covers some of the basics on humidifiers.  There are certainly other great ones out there, among them the Guardian Technologies (comes with relatively large tanks that will last for days), Honeywell (among the easiest to care for and are mostly germ free), Stadler Form (innovative designs and great durability) and Vicks (an industry leader with great history and reputation).  Plus, there are a large variety of  humidifiers for kids that will make their rooms fun and more comfortable.

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FAQ: Electric Fireplaces

Dimplex Electric Fireplace          Dimplex Media Console Electric Fireplace          Dimplex Vienna Electric Fireplace

As a kid, my favorite room in the house was our family room.  It was large enough to have a full complement of furniture, an upright piano, a huge television, and a brick fireplace.  As an adult, finding a house that has the same kind of brick fireplace like the one in my parents’ house has been daunting.  Enter the electric fireplace!  Nothing enhances your space like an electric fireplace.  Whether you go with a mantel fireplace, a media console, a gel fireplace or just an electric stove, electric fireplaces will make any room warm and inviting.  Plus, with these units, there is no chimney or other type of venting required.  WINNING!!  #TigerBlood.  (Sorry, had a Charlie Sheen flashback…)  As with most home purchases, customers often ask some of the same questions, so I will try my best to address those.

1. Should I go with gel or electric?

This basically comes down to personal preference.  But, before you can decide which one you want, you should understand the basic differences.  An electric fireplace needs to be plugged in (you’d be surprised how many people don’t know that), and most come with a blower that provides heat.  Gel fireplaces use gel cans or bottles to produce a smokeless flame.  Generally, they do not provide a lot of heat, and are used mainly for ambiance.  Also, gel fireplaces tend to be less expensive initially, however, they do not come with the gel, and you will have to buy gel cans separately.

2. How large of an area will an electric fireplace heat?

Everyone buying an electric fireplace asks this question.  Generally, an electric fireplace will heat up to 400 square feet.  Of course there are few models that will do more and a few that will do less, but 400 square feet is a safe overall bet.  Even the electric stoves will cover up to 400 square feet.  Most give off about 5,000 BTU’s of heat.  Also, you have the option to have the heat on or off, so if you just want the flames going, you can do that.  Additionally, you can just have the heat on and not the flame.  One more thing on heat.  The glass on an electric fireplace is cool to the touch, since most of them have a separate area where the heat is coming from.  So, you can touch the glass and not worry about burning yourself.

3. Can I place a TV on top of a mantel fireplace?

This is a fantastic question!  For the most part, yes, you can place a television on a mantel fireplace.  This is a great option in family rooms, especially if you get a corner mantel fireplace.  Just be sure to pay attention to the dimensions of the mantel, and the weight of the television.  Most flat screens will go on a mantel with no problem.  You just want to try keep the weight below 125 pounds.

4. Really?  A wall mounted fireplace?

YES!  A wall mounted electric fireplace!  To me, this is one the coolest things EVER!  You basically hang it on the wall like a picture.  You can get them with a variety of backgrounds, though my personal favorite has a black background with sandstone pebbles on the bottom.  There are also models that allow you to change the color of the flame.  Most of them require you to hard wire it so there is no wire or plug showing.  And, like a traditional electric fireplace, they will heat a room.  So, you get comfort and style all in one.  And, they come with a remote, so you can operate it from across the room.  Trust me, you get one of these and you are no longer trying to keep up with the Jones’.  You will officially BE the Jones’.

5. What if I have an existing fireplace?

The answer is simple!  You just get an insert.  You can get either an electric or gel insert.  The inserts work just like the full mantels.  The electric ones will provide heat; the gel ones need to have the gel replaced.  The thing you have to be certain of is the dimensions of your opening and the dimensions of your insert.  Generally, you want to get an insert that is about 1 inch less in width than your opening.  That just leaves you a little room to play with.  And, you can get a trim kit to fill out the rest, so you will be set.

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