When it comes to home appliances, consumers' buying habits have markedly changed in the past few years, according to Dan Novak, president of Novak and Parker Appliances in Mount Prospect.
"Since most people are staying in their homes and not selling, we have noticed that many are purchasing more expensive appliances that eventually save them money because they are more reliable and last longer," Novak said. "Reliability and longevity are the important factors now."
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So, he added, homeowners are gravitating to brands like Miele, Wulf, Sub-Zero and Kitchen Aid, all of which have a reputation for longevity and high quality. Most of these brands tout a 20-year life cycle, compared to an average of 13 to 15 years for many other appliance brands.
"These companies don't offer many more features and they charge more, but they are known for building a more durable product," Novak said.
In fact, many Novak and Parker customers spend as much now on their appliances when doing a kitchen remodel that it almost equals their budget for cabinetry, which was not the case in the past, he said.
Energy efficiency and the prevention of food waste are also on the minds of many appliance shoppers, Novak added. Sub Zero refrigerators, for instance, are attracting buyers because they offer dual compressors -- one for the freezer and one for the refrigerator. This diverts the dry freezer air, which damages produce, from the refrigerator portion of the appliance and prevents produce from spoiling so quickly.
Maytag ovens with a new Aqualift self-cleaning system have also been popular. Instead of taking two hours at 800 degrees to clean an oven, as with most self-cleaning ovens, this new interior finish allows homeowners to clean their ovens in 45 minutes at only 200 degrees, using much less energy.
Highly energy-efficient induction electric cook tops are also gaining followers, even here in the Chicago area where gas cooking is prevalent, Novak said. These types of glass cook tops use magnets to heat ferrous metal pots.
Most popular of all, however, are free-standing double oven/ranges. They feature a small oven in place of the old storage drawer, along with the conventional-sized oven. In some models, the small oven is even located above the larger oven, directly below the cook top.
New, but not yet as popular, Novak said, are high-end steam convection ovens that allow cooks to steam vegetables, spareribs and other foods. Theses ovens also introduce moisture while baking to give bread and other baked goods a professional sheen.
When it comes to appliance colors and finishes, Novak said that while stainless has been king for the past decade, at a recent show he saw companies introducing pure white "ice" appliances that feature stainless steel accents.
"These are good for consumers who want to differentiate themselves from everyone who has stainless, and who don't want to spend a lot of money on stainless appliances," Novak said. "The ice appliances are also a good option for homeowners who object to the finger marks that constantly show up on stainless pieces and for those who want to gradually change their appliance colors. The stainless accents on white allow people to gradually buy new appliances to replace kitchens that currently have either white or stainless packages."
Novak and Parker Appliances is located at 1016 E. Northwest Hwy., Mount Prospect. Family-owned since 1913, Novak and Parker moved to Mount Prospect from Park Ridge in 1964.
For more information, visit www.novakandparker.com or call (847) 481-8939.