The Gaggenau LiftMatic.
I have a 19-year-old Kenmore double electric wall oven I want to replace. I got all excited recently when the cash-for-clunkers stimulus chatter moved to Energy Star appliances. Could I get some of my tax dollars back if I bought a new oven? Uh, no. Sadly, except for restaurant-sized models, ovens don't even get Energy Star ratings.
I do want to replace my clunker, which heats unevenly, has a gasket that's basically turned to stone, vents out the front (which ruined the finish on the control panel and is discoloring the cabinet above it), and is scratched and hard to clean. My preference is a single oven, since I have used the lower one maybe five times in two decades.
Now really, an oven is just a box that heats up to what it says on the thermostat, so any innovation intrigues me. On the prowl for the unusual, I found some pretty hot stuff. And some pretty high prices. Still, a girl can dream.
If I had five grand and an additional budget for remodeling, I'd go for the Gaggenau LiftMatic (pictured). The main box is mounted on the wall, and a glass-ceramic base lowers from it. When you open the oven door, the heat stays up in the box.
Gaggenau wall ovens feature another innovation: an air filtering system that traps grease particles. My cabinets might appreciate that.
Gaggenau offers a convection model with a side-opening door for a little less money. It's a bit less distinctive, but I'm drawn to this design too. If my kitchen could accommodate its 30-inch width, I'd consider the combination convection-and-steam model, with its removable water tank. (I could get this steam function in a slimmer model if I wanted to install a water line.)
But this isn't realistic. This is a replacement in a farm kitchen, not a remodel or new construction. The cost per use would be astronomical, like adding five bucks to every pizza baked for the next 20 years. My goal is to save money with an energy-efficient upgrade.
With that in mind, convection heating is the way to go. Convection ovens consume about a third less energy than standard ovens. A built-in fan circulates the air to more evenly distribute the heat, reducing cooking times and temperatures. This is an innovation I can wrap my mind, and pocketbook, around. The most efficient convection models have a third radiant heating element that heats the air before it blows into the oven cabinet. Take, for instance, the highly rated 27-inch Multi-Mode Convection model by JennAir. This oven uses two fan speeds and three heating elements, combining for six different convection modes. The design is pretty, too.
Until I can make the purchase, I've found a new way to save energy while cleaning my old oven: activate the self-cleaning function right after I've used the oven take advantage of residual heat. Brilliant!
A database of energy incentives for each state is maintained by North Carolina State University's College of Engineering. Here is the Wisconsin page.
Wisconsin's energy-efficient rebates are administered by Focus on Energy. Click here for the list of residential incentives.
For more information on the costs associated with cooking, including tips on how to use your oven more efficiently, visit California's Consumer Energy Center.