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The big chill

Things to consider when replacing your refrigerator

Does the inside of your refrigerator have a permanent funky smell? Does the freezer section look like a landscape from the North Pole?

If so, it might be time to buy a new refrigerator.

Sheldon Mahe, an appliance expert at Trail Appliances in Calgary, says anyone upgrading from a 20-year-old refrigerator might be surprised at the new styles and features available with today’s models.

“There’s a lot of new stuff,” he said. “Right now they are even embedding TVs into the front of refrigerators.”
Mahe says a good salesperson can guide you through the choices to find the right refrigerator for your needs and budget.

Here’s some advice on how to buy a new refrigerator:

Measure your space
Mahe says refrigerators come in a variety of sizes, usually rated in a cubic-foot capacity, but you need to make sure a certain model will fit the space in your kitchen. Measure the cutout where your current fridge is sitting, not the old refrigerator, as it may be smaller than the space available. “We get a lot of that,” said Mahe. “People measure their current fridge, but they might have two extra inches of height that we can take advantage of.”

Decide on a style
Mahe says the basic freezer-on-top, refrigerator-on-the-bottom style is still around, but side-by-side models with freezer on the left side and refrigerator on the right are fading in popularity. He says models with the freezer on the bottom and French doors above are the most popular choice now. A new twist adds a pantry door, which is an extra pull-out refrigerator drawer that can be used for deli foods, beverage cans or even snacks for the kids. Even more unique, says Mahe, are French doors on the freezer section too – the left side being freezer-only space, while the right side can be set to either freezer or refrigerator temperatures.

“There’s a lot of new stuff. Right now they are even embedding TVs into the front of refrigerators.” – Sheldon Mahe, Trail Appliances

Pick a colour
When it comes to refrigerator finishes, “bisque is gone, just so you know,” jokes Mahe, referring to the off-white colour that was popular in the late 1990s. He says stainless steel remains hugely popular, with black and white being more common on the lower-end, top-freezer, bottom-refrigerator models. The latest trend is black stainless, which is stainless steel with a black pigment embedded into the finish. “It’s easier to clean, and looks quite classy,” says Mahe.

Consider extra features
Some new refrigerators can do more than just keep food chilled. Mahe says there are models with built-in TVs, and ones with a camera inside that take regular snaps of the contents so you can check on your cell phone if you need to buy more milk. There is even one model with a touchscreen on the front that lets you order up groceries through a Superstore app.

Arrange for delivery
Mahe says having your new refrigerator delivered should be a part of the buying process. “I don’t think most people understand how heavy these refrigerators can be, and how awkward,” he said. “I’ve worked in delivery and I know.”

He adds it’s really not worth someone trying to save a bit of money by moving it themselves. “Especially, if they have to go to physiotherapy after,” he said. “That tends to add up.”

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