Is an energy-efficient fridge worth the money?

Published: Friday, November 03, 2017 @ 4:03 PM

Gail Peterson, Boynton Beach, looks at refrigerators Wednesday with sales counselor Walter Fron at Rosner’s Appliance in West Palm Beach. “My fridge is dying,” Peterson said. Fron explained the upcoming Florida state sales tax rebate on Energy Star appliances during her visit to the store.
Thomas Cordy
Gail Peterson, Boynton Beach, looks at refrigerators Wednesday with sales counselor Walter Fron at Rosner’s Appliance in West Palm Beach. “My fridge is dying,” Peterson said. Fron explained the upcoming Florida state sales tax rebate on Energy Star appliances during her visit to the store.(Thomas Cordy)

Refrigerators have seen a huge bump in energy efficiency since 2000, according to Lifehacker.com. They now use 40 to 60 percent less energy than back then. 

With fridges costing an average of $1,100, is it time to flip your fridge?

Here are some of the reasons you might want to consider and energy efficient refrigerator:

If you have a fridge more than 20 years old

In terms of maintenance for an older refrigerator, there isn't a lot that can be done to ensure the fridge lasts longer, nor would it be worth the price of trying to make it last a little longer. The best you can do is ensure that your current refrigerator is maintaining a temperature between 37 and 40 degrees. Make sure all foods and liquids are covered because uncovered foods release moisture, causing the compressor to kick on more often which uses more energy.

If your current refrigerator was built in the 1990s or earlier, then it's definitely worth buying a new one. You'll save between $100 and $200 a year in energy costs, according to EnergyStar. If it was made in the last 10 years, you're only looking at energy savings in the range of $5 to $20 a year.

If you're in the market for a new fridge

For energy efficiency, classic top-freezer refrigerators use less energy than side-by-side or french-door types.

According to EnergyStar, a top-freezer fridge costs $45 a year to run, a bottom-freezer refrigerator costs $70 a year and a side-by-side fridge costs $75 a year, so going with a top-freezer fridge will save substantially more compared to bottom-freezer or side-by-side fridges. Of course, the size of the refrigerator, its defrost type and whether the model has a through-the-door ice dispenser can lead to large variations in enerygy use.

An energy calculator is available at EnergyStar.

Which fridge type is the most energy efficient?

The most energy-efficient models aren't necessarily the most expensive, according to bankrate.com. Refrigerators that use the least energy can have relatively modest prices, partly because they're smaller and have fewer features.

The easiest way to compare is to read each model's black and yellow EnergyGuide label which includes a sliding scale that shows the appliance's estimated annual operating cost within the range of costs of similar models. EnergyStar provides this Product Guide for comparisons on annual energy savings.

Rebates and recycling programs by local utility companies and government tax incentives also can help lower the upfront cost of new energy-efficient appliances. Recycling your old fridge can prevent old refrigerant and foam from adding to carbon pollution, according to EnergyStar.

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New spam impacts some Gmail accounts

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 4:37 PM

A new form of spam is causing some computer experts to scratch their heads.  

Messages you didn’t send but appear to come from your Gmail account may wind up in your sent messages folder.

The trick lets the spammers bypass Gmail’s spam filters, according to Gizmodo.com.

This doesn’t mean your account has been compromised, in fact, the problem continues for some users who have changed their password, or use two-factor authentication, according to Cnet.com.  

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray will be talking to a local tech expert to find out more about how this is happening and what you can do to protect your Gmail account.  

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Toddler toys, decorative pillows, and water bottles among the latest product recalls 

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 2:41 PM

Toddler toys, decorative pillows, and water bottles among the latest product recalls

Children’s xylophones, water bottles sold at Costco, and 21 styles of decorative pillows are among the latest recalls announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

The Petit Collage musical jumbo wooden xylophones made by Wild & Wolf are under recall because the ball on the end of the stick can detach and pose a choking hazard. 

There is one report of the ball separating and another report of a loose ball, but no injuries.

They were sold at Barnes & Noble, Urban Outfitters and other retailers.

Don’t let your child use the toy and contact Wild & Wolf at 855-215-5879 to receive a free replacement beater stick. 

Reduce Hydro Pro Water bottles are being recalled over lead paint. 

They were sold in two packs with a dog and lamb design printed on the outside.

No one has been hurt, but the pink paint on the outside of the bear bottles contain levels of toxic lead that exceed federal standards.

Don’t use the recalled bottles and contact Base Brands at 833-600-2887 or return them to place of purchase for a full refund or replacement bottle. 

Decorative pillows by Primark are being recalled because they may catch on fire. 

No one has been hurt, but don’t use the cushions which come in 21 shapes, sizes and colors, click here for full product codes and descriptions. 

Contact Primark at 855-215-5829 or return the pillows to the store for a full refund. 

One million Square D safety switches are under recall because the could shock or electrocute users, although no injuries have been reported.

The power may stay on when in the “OFF” position on several catalog numbers of the general duty switches made by Schneider Electric. 

Contact Schneider Electric at 877-672-1953 or click here to find out how to inspect the switch, receive free service support, and a replacement switch. 

Pressure washer surface cleaners by Briggs and Stratton are being recalled because  the spray bar can fly off and cause an injury. 

One person reported needing sutures on a cut to the knee after being struck by the bar.    There are four other reports of the bars detaching from the central hub. 

3000 PSI Briggs and Stratton and Crafsman branded surface cleaners are involved in the recall.

Stop using the cleaners and Contact Briggs and Stratton at 877-370-7505 to receive a free replacement. 

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Jo-Ann Stores are recalling string light sets which can break and cut you.

Two people have  been cut by the decorative glass jars in the Jo-Ann’s Makers Holiday 10-count LED string lights. 

Don’t use the lights and contact Jo-Ann stores at 888-739-4120 for a full refund. 

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Polaris is recalling Ranger XP recreational off-highway vehicles and Phoenix 200 all-terrain vehicles due to injury and crash concerns.

Multiple model numbers of the 2016 and 2017 Ranger XP ROVs have seat belt brackets that can separate from the frame. No injuries have been reported.

All model year 2014 through 2017 Phoenix ATVs are being recalled because of nine reports of a damaged throttle limiter, with one minor injury.

Stop using the ROVs and ATVs and contact Polaris at 800-765-2747 for a free repair.

For more on these and other recalls visit CPSC.gov.

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Local students learn how to combat scams, fraud

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 1:08 PM

Students in the Miami Valley are learning to recognize fraud and scams, and finding out how they can protect themselves from these potential money pitfalls.

Several schools in our area teach a free consumer life skills and financial literacy curriculum called FoolProof. 

The goal of the web-based, interactive coursework is to teach a healthy dose of skepticism in a scam-filled world.

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Kettering, Xenia, Franklin, Stebbins, Greenville and Lebanon high schools offer FoolProof classes.

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray will find out more about what the students learn and what they can teach us about avoiding scams and fraud. 

Watch tonight on WHIO-TV at 5pm.

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Audit-proofing your taxes 

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

Audit-proofing your taxes

First, the good news.  The IRS is auditing fewer taxpayers.  

In fact, audits are at an all-time low. You can’t completely audit-proof your tax returns, but there are ways to make your chance of an IRS investigation less likely. 
Failing to report taxable income and cryptocurrency income, are among Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s list of audit red flags.

Math errors, sizeable donations, home office deductions and deductions of unreimbursed business expenses, for example, commuting costs and clothing, are also going to raise eyebrows at the IRS.

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One of the biggest red flags is income.

The more money you make the more likely you’ll be scrutinized by the IRS, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.  

If you make $200,00 or more, there is a one in 80 chance of an audit, and if you make more than $1 million your odds are one in 25, according to Clark Howard’s website, Clark.com.

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray will have insight from a local tax preparer about ways to audit-proof your tax return tonight on WHIO-TV at 5.

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