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5 Ways to Boost Productivity When It Gets Dark Way Too Early

Is there anything more depressing than being at your office when it’s pitch black outside—and knowing full well you’ve got at least two more hours of work ahead of you before you can leave? It’s easy to get down about daylight savings time. In fact, seasonal depression affects around 4-6 percent of our population.

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Whether you’re furnishing your first home or replacing old appliances, you need to consider a few factors before you buy a new washing machine and dryer: 1) Where are you going to put the laundry appliances -- stacked in a hall closet or in their own room? 2) Do you want top-load or front-load? 3) Do you want high-efficiency or traditional models? 4) Which brands are reliable? If you’re short on space, stackable appliances can come in handy, and Bosch makes collections specifically for compact spaces. Some of their models are so compact that they fit under or beside kitchen cabinets, and they’re capable of cleaning with the same power as their full-size counterparts. Besides personal preference, the main differences between top- and front-load machines are top-loaders use less energy, water, and detergent, but front-loaders are less noisy and more compact. If you’re debating between high-efficiency models or traditional washers and dryers, each has pros and cons. High-efficiency washers use less water and energy, and they produce fewer suds and allow more motion to offer a more concentrated cleaning deep into fibers. But, the lower water levels mean longer wash cycles, and even though they cost about the same as traditional washers, they require a special detergent that costs more. In contrast, traditional washers have shorter wash times and are gentler on clothes, but they use more water and tend to clean only surfaces, not deep into fabrics. Some brands to consider are Electrolux, which received the 2016 Best in Show award at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show; Whirlpool; Samsung; and Maytag, which has a Maxima Series with PowerWash capabilities.

 

As with washers and dryers, you’ll want to assess your available space when you are shopping for refrigerators. Does your kitchen have enough space for a double-width refrigerator, or are you looking at mid-width models? Or, are you very limited on space and need to consider compact refrigerators? LG, Frigidaire, GE, and Whirlpool carry a variety of refrigerators in the 10 to 11 cu. Ft. capacity range. Secondly, you’ll need to decide whether you prefer top freezer, bottom freezer, or side-by-side refrigerators. Next, you’ll want to list the added features that are your must-haves and which ones you’re willing to live without to get the most bang for your buck. Some convenient functions include: ice makers, water spouts, LED lights, flexible storage options, and door alarms to chime when the door isn’t fully shut. Electrolux offers luxury refrigerators that offer specially designed lighting and crisper drawers. No matter the bonuses you choose, you’ll want to pick a brand that’s built to last, like Viking, which is known for its simple yet powerful products.

OK, we’ve all lived the lovely life of doing all our dishes by hand. While it may not be considered torture, who can argue with the joyous convenience dishwashers provide? But what you may find questionable is the convenience of selecting a dishwasher that’s right for you. For instance, did you realize how many types of dishwashers there are? Models vary among built-in dishwashers, drawer dishwashers, countertop dishwashers, panel ready dishwashers, and portable dishwashers. In order to choose the right one for you, really think about your lifestyle and how you will use your new dishwasher most of the time. If you tend to host dinner parties often, you may want to look at larger dishwashers with flexible shelves and a heavier setting to easily accommodate pots and pans. Some models offer a light wash option and stemware holders to easily clean delicate crystals after your wine-tasting parties. But if you’re really looking for luxury, select a dishwasher with a pre-heat feature for rapid wash times or futuristic add-ons, like the Powerbeam feature from Thermador that projects the remaining wash time onto the floor so you can easily see it. If you have a small family, you may want to look at dishwashers that have an upper/lower rack feature to save water.