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Published: Thursday, 6/28/2007

Take the Chill Out of Buying a New Refrigerator

(ARA) - Buying a refrigerator can be a chilling experience. When you think about it, it is a pretty big investment of time, money and effort. With so many brands and features to choose from, selecting the right appliance can be daunting. You can make it a more pleasant venture by getting educated about the variety of options before visiting your local appliance retailer.

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Before heading out to purchase your refrigerator, be sure to measure the space you have available. Most standard refrigerators measure about 65 to 70 inches high, 29 to 36 inches wide, and 24 to 32 inches deep. You should also decide how much space you will need inside your refrigerator to accommodate your weekly grocery list. The basic rule of thumb is to take the number of people in your household, multiply that by five and voila, you have the number of cubic feet you should look for in a refrigerator.

Next, decide if you are looking for a top freezer, side-by-side or bottom-freezer refrigerator. Top freezers provide a traditional look and are usually a little easier on your pocketbook. Side-by-side refrigerators are a great choice if you have depth limitations in your kitchen because these refrigerators can be as low as 24 inches deep, while other models tend to be quite a bit more. Bottom-freezer and French-door bottom-freezer refrigerators are quickly becoming the most popular options because they are not only stylish, but also put food you use most at eye level.

"Our research shows the average consumer uses the refrigerator section seven times more often than the freezer, which helps explain why the bottom-freezer is growing in popularity," said Richard Heckathorn, Amana senior category manager.

Once you choose the style of refrigerator, you should then consider the finish. Most models come in white, bisque, black and stainless steel. Be sure to select a finish that complements your kitchen.

Do you entertain friends and family on a regular basis? Do you like your beverages really cold? Are you looking for ice and water in your door? What about a bottom-freezer option?

These are questions you should consider before making a refrigerator purchase. No matter how many bells and whistles a refrigerator may have, make sure the refrigerator meets all your needs, providing practical features that will support your lifestyle.

"Finding the right refrigerator is a highly personal decision," said Heckathorn.

Now that you've got your new refrigerator, get to know the different storage and space options before you start loading it. This not only maximizes the amount of food you can store, but it also may help your food stay fresher, longer. Here are some helpful tips for properly filling a refrigerator:

* Avoid overfilling. Put too much in the refrigerator and it can restrict the air flow, making your refrigerator work harder to keep the optimum temperature of 37 degrees F.

* Stow it away. Leaving produce on an open shelf causes it to dry out and deteriorate. For that newly-picked sensation, use crispers to keep fruits and vegetables fresher longer. A general rule of thumb is to set crisper controls at "high" for vegetables and at "low" for fruit.

* Keep meat moist and flavorful. Fresh meat should be stored in a meat and cheese drawer. This refrigerator width drawer helps your meat maintain its ultimate flavor and freshness levels. Once stored, remember to prepare meat within one to two days of purchase, otherwise freeze it for a longer shelf life.

*Stop the burn before it starts. As moisture evaporates from food it often changes into ice crystals, which can lead to freezer burn. To properly prepare food for frozen storage, use air-, moisture- or vapor-proof packaging such as zipper-style plastic freezer bags and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Courtesy of ARAcontent



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