Every time I go down to the department store (which isn’t very often, admittedly), there seems to be another great gadget for doing this or that household chore. And most of them are run by electricity. If we want to cut down on our power consumption – either because we want to reduce the carbon emissions of a petrol-fuelled power station, because we want to have fewer electromagnetic fields in our immediate environment, because we live in an alternative energy household and the wind tower/solar panels aren’t doing much on a foggy day, or because we want to save money – then it pays to know which gadgets are worth getting and which aren’t.
Bread maker – these only make one loaf at a time, which gets eaten very rapidly in a family. Having tried both methods, I can say that making bread by hand (kneading it in a bowl, then forgetting it on the bench for half an afternoon before knocking it down and kneading again, followed by popping it in a tin to bake alongside a casserole) uses much less power and makes more bread. If you really want fresh bread and haven’t time to bake it yourself, then find a good bakery… preferably one that uses organic ingredients and puts the loaves in paper bags (they do exist – don’t despair).
Electric citrus juicer – They may look groovy, but a hand-held juicer gets just as much juice out, is easier to wash and is easier to store. Are you really such a wimp that you can’t squeeze a lemon by hand?
Blender – Reasonably worth it, as it can be used to make healthy juices and milkshakes as well as pureeing soups, chopping nuts, making mayonnaise, whipping cream, etc.
Cake mixer – A hand-held beater does just as good a job – or even a plain old spoon.
Toasted sandwich maker – To be fair, cooking toasted sandwiches under the grill doesn’t do as good a job, and frying sandwiches uses more oil. If you really like toasted sandwiches and eat them a lot, then it’s worth it.
Coffee percolator – OK… I’ll admit to having one of these, even though a French press/plunger does the job without using electricity.
Hair trimmer – If the members of your household just want a quick trim, they’re easier and quicker and do a better job than scissors. Sure, you won’t turn into Vidal Sassoon, but a hair trimmer can give the resident males (and others who want it) a short-back-and-sides, a crew cut or a Number Four.
Juicer – I, personally, would not have a juicer and a blender. The blender gets good enough fruit and vegetable juices, especially if you add a little water, and is more versatile. It’s better to buy one gadget rather than two. But if you drink a lot of juice and you want fresh juice at your office, then maybe.
Electric carving or bread knife – If you need to carve neat slices off a roast very frequently, it may be worth it. Also if you don’t buy sliced bread and need to cut three loaves at once. However, it is possible to cut neat slices with an ordinary carving or bread knife.
Pasta machine – If you eat masses of pasta and want to make your own from wholemeal flour and your own additives (e.g. spinach, tomato paste, etc.) then it may be worth it.
Popcorn machine – A paper bag or cardboard box in the microwave will do the job reasonably well. Having said that, air-popped popcorn is a wholegrain snack with little or no fat that most children enjoy. Maybe buy one to be shared around several families for children’s parties?
Nail dryer – With today’s quick-dry nail polishes, do you really need one for home use? Use a hair dryer if you’re really in a hurry.
Electric toothbrush – Plenty of people stay cavity free and with sweet breath without these. Save your money.
Hair dryer – This is a chemical-free way of killing nits, so if you have school aged children, it’s worth having and using regularly. But remember to air-dry your hair from time to time – it’s good for your hair as well as a power saver.
Nick Vassilev founded Anyclean, his London based domestic cleaning company, back in 1998. Nick is an expert on cleaning and loves to help people with his cleaning tips, articles and knowledge. If you would like to know more about his cleaning company, please visit http://www.anyclean.co.uk.