Q: I want to buy a new microwave oven both for the convenience and to lower my electric bills. What are the newest designs of microwave ovens available, and what features should I look for?
A: If you have an older microwave oven, you'll be amazed at the new convenience features available and how fast some of the new models cook.
Combination microwave/convection ovens are also available. You can use these solely as a microwave for fast cooking, a convection oven for fast, efficient baking, or a combination of both for speed and browning.
Some of the newest microwave ovens have super-fast cooking power as high as 1,000 watts. These increase cooking speeds by 25 percent over the standard high-output models.
This reduces overheating of your kitchen and overworking of your air conditioner in the summer.
When selecting a new microwave oven, choose one with as many of the new convenience features as your budget will allow.
These include automatic moisture-sensing reheat/cooking, multi-stage programming, specific foods cooking memory, super-high-output cooking power, automatic defrost by weight, etc.
Using a microwave oven requires much less electricity than using your conventional range or oven. With more convenience features, you will tend to use it more often instead of your range-top or large oven. Whereas an oven may use 3,400 watts (or an equivalent for gas) for an hour,
the most powerful microwave oven uses only 1,400 watts for a fraction as long.
An automatic moisture-sensing feature makes cooking most food simple. A sensor inside the microwave oven detects the presence of steam. This tells the microwave oven's "brain" how the cooking or reheating is progressing.
For example, when cooking frozen vegetables, it will start on the high cooking power level. When steam is sensed, indicating that the vegetables are at the proper cooking temperature, it automatically switches to a lower power level for the proper length of time. Make sure you are getting a true moisture-sensing feature, not just a sound-alike name.
Multi-stage programming allows you to automatically defrost, then cook at two different time and power settings, and then incorporate a standby warming.
You can put in the food and walk away until it is done.
Memory cooking allows you to preprogram the cooking times for several often made microwave foods like potatoes, pizza slices, cups of coffee, etc.
You just touch the "potato" button and the oven automatically cooks it properly.
You can write me for Utility Bills Update No. 496 showing a buyer's guide for the new high-power/efficient microwave and microwave/convection ovens listing manufacturers, model numbers, cooking power outputs, energy-efficient and convenience features, and microwave cooking efficiency tips.
Include $1.50 and a self-addressed business envelope.
Correspondence should be addressed to James Dulley, c/o Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.