Scammers often pop up in the wake of weather-related disasters. Following the recent tornadoes that caused massive damage across several states, the Federal Trade Commission is warning you to watch out for urgent appeals for charity and fraudulent home repair offers.
Going down to Fort Myers, Florida, in the dead of winter is a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Especially when it’s for six weeks of testing walk-behind mowers, lawn tractors, and other mowing gear. We’ll be posting our Ratings in the coming weeks, in time for your springtime shopping. But until then, program leader Peter Sawchuk offers a rundown on our extensive tests in this video.
Consider the 140,000 times you’re likely to flush a toilet over a lifetime, and it’s easy to see why toilets guzzle nearly 30 percent of a home’s water use. Replacing an old toilet, especially one from 1995 or earlier, can save the average home at least 4,000 gallons and some $90 per year in water bills. Add in the 650 extra gallons per year you’ll save with a WaterSense model, along with the rebate that comes with it, and you could have the cost of a new toilet covered. In fact, Consumer Reports’ most recent toilet tests name two $100 WaterSense models as CR Best Buys.
Fourteen times last summer and fall, I and nine other Consumer Reports staffers took a mile walk down and back past the cemetery near our headquarters in Yonkers, N.Y. Each time, we wore two pedometers, devices used to count steps and, in some cases, compute distance traveled. Our walks were postponed at times—by freak tropical storms, record floods, and, in my case, an injured knee. But by the end we had logged a total of 140 miles and gathered enough data to come up with Ratings of 13 pedometers, including 10 standard ones and three cell-phone apps.
If the competition for the top spot in our Ratings could be likened to a horse race, you could say that Behr’s interior paints have tended to win by a nose—with Valspar and Benjamin Moore taking turns at place and show. But in our latest Ratings of interior paints Benjamin Moore has outpaced Behr’s Premium plus line in two of three sheen categories.
Consumer Reports readers expect their vacuum cleaners, first and foremost, to deep-clean carpets. But they also want their vacs light and easy to maneuver and to not suck up too much of their cash. The challenge? Vacuum motors that provide the beefiest suction aren’t the lightweight variety, and they often don’t come cheap.
Edison’s incandescent lightbulb hasn’t changed much since 1879, a remarkable run that’s nearing its end. And considering that some of his inventions, like the phonograph, have evolved into modern devices, it makes you wonder what took lightbulbs so long to change.
They cost a lot more than a snow shovel but if you’ve got back problems or a set of stairs that routinely ices over, electric snow-melting mats may be the solution. Consumer Reports recently tested the HeatTrak and Warmtrax mats and found they met their snow removal claims.
Can’t decide between a CFL and halogen? The GE Energy Smart Hybrid Halogen-CFL, $5.50, claims to offer the best of both. Unlike most CFLs, the hybrid comes on instantly, thanks to the halogen capsule inside the swirl of the CFL. The halogen turns off when the CFL reaches full brightness, saving energy by allowing the CFL to do most of the work.
It’s that time of year for wish lists, and what we at Consumer Reports often wish for is the chance to squeeze in a product that missed our own deadlines for testing. This happened with our recent cordless-drill tests, when Lowe’s announced this fall it was adding 18-volt cordless and corded power tools (photo right) to its Kobalt line.
The phase-out of inefficient bulbs starts in January 2012 with 100-watt bulbs that use too much energy. Fans of 100-watt incandescent bulbs like the added brightness they provide, but when it comes to their energy-saving replacements, you can't have it all. Based on Consumer Reports tests of seven compact fluorescent lightbulbs and two halogen bulbs, to save energy you may have to sacrifice some brightness.
Water filtration is big business, netting $3 billion dollars annually for manufacturers. The industry should only get bigger as concerns over water safety proliferate, owing in part to the nation's aging infrastructure of water distribution pipes. In 2010, public-water system health violations affected 108 million Americans, an annual increase of 27 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That has many manufacturers vying to build a better water filter, as Consumer Reports' latest water filter reviews found.
If you haven’t bought a dryer in a decade or more, you may be surprised by how much they cost. Our latest round of dryer tests found the top-rated electric dryer is $1,400; the bottom model costs $300 but couldn’t dry laundry. As for the most expensive dryer, at $1,800, it offers sleek styling and scored very good overall, but didn’t do as well as models half the price.
There are about 180 models in Consumer Reports' current refrigerator Ratings. Since we started testing this appliance back in 1939, too many to count have come and gone. But it's safe to say that no model has been as mammoth as the new Kenmore Elite 7205 French-door bottom-freezer, with its claimed 31-cubic-foot capacity. Setting aside for a moment the question of whether so much space is necessary, let's take a closer look to see how Kenmore managed the feat.
Lowe's has announced that it is closing 20 of its home-improvement stores in 15 states, with half of those locations already shuttered by the end of business yesterday. The other 10 locations will shut down in about one month's time.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: