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Principle of UVC Disinfection Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be divided into 3 categories, including long-wavelength ultraviolet (UVA), medium-wavelength ultraviolet (UVB), and short-wavelength ultraviolet (UVC). The shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy. The UV radiation emitted by portable UV disinfection devices is UVC. The UVC that comes from the sun cannot reach the Earth, but some artificial light sources such as welding, disinfection lamps, etc. can produce UVC. Long-wavelength ultraviolet (UVA) Medium-wavelength ultraviolet (UVB) Short-wavelength ultraviolet (UVC) Wavelength 315-400nm 280-315nm 100-280nm Characteristics It can pass through the ozone layer and reach Earth, transmit through glass windows to indoors and vehicles, causing body tanning. Over-exposure may cause skin deterioration and produce wrinkles. Severe exposure may lead to skin cancer. It is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer and only a small amount can reach Earth. It damages the skin’s DNA and causes sunburn, where severe exposure may lead to skin cancer. It is fully absorbed by the ozone layer and cannot reach Earth. According to studies, UVC with a wavelength of less than 280 nm can destroy the DNA or RNA molecular structure of bacteria and viruses, causing them to break down, losing the ability to reproduce and infect, therefore achieving the effect of sterilisation and disinfection. UVC disinfection is commonly used to inhibit the bacteria and viruses found in water, air, and the surface of objects. Choosing Products 1. Safety Prolonged exposure to UV radiation may cause damage to the skin and eyes, for instance, skin deterioration, increasing the risk of skin cancer and cataracts. Although the penetration depth of UVC is low and most of the UVC will be absorbed by the dead skin, however, if the body is in contact with UVC for a long time or at a high dosage, it can cause photokeratitis (similar to snow blindness) or cause redness and swelling or ulceration of the skin. Generally, accidental exposure to excessive UVC may have a short-term effect on the body, and there is no evidence showing that the use of UVC disinfection could increase the risk of skin cancer. However, when using UVC disinfection, it is still necessary to pay attention to the acute physical problems caused by short-term excessive exposure and avoid direct irradiation of the body, especially the eyes. Therefore, when choosing a portable UV disinfection device, its safety design is one of the important considerations. Handheld UV Disinfection Devices Less Safe The Council tested 8 of the common portable UVC disinfection devices on the market, of which 3 were box-type with enclosed designs, 4 were handheld designs, and 1 was a box design, but it can also be used in handheld mode. The results showed that the overall safety performance of the handheld disinfection devices is poor: UV Irradiation Measure the irradiance of UV radiation at the periphery of each model to assess whether the models may cause hazard to humans. For models tested in an enclosed environment (activated with lids closed), no UV radiation was detected in the surrounding area under normal use. However, when the lid of the box was accidentally opened during the disinfection process, the UV lamps of some models were still on, and the measured irradiance of UV radiation exceeded the upper limit of the standard. The measured irradiance of UV radiation of the handheld models was found to exceed the upper limit standard. Photobiological Safety To assess the hazard level of the emitted UV radiation from the models to skin and eyes, the Council also measured the effective irradiance at a distance of 200mm from the models and classified them into exempt, low, medium, and high-risk levels according to the allowable limits specified in the standard. The results showed that 3 handheld models and 1 box model with handheld mode were rated at high-risk level which means that burns and injuries to the skin and eyes may result from a short period of exposure to UV radiation emitted from these products. The other handheld model and 1 box-type model were rated at moderate risk, which may cause discomfort or burning reactions to the skin and eyes when exposed to the UV radiation from these products. Therefore, when selecting products, consumers should pay attention to their safety features: UV Position The UV lamp of the box model is generally located within the box enclosure, and in normal use, the user’s eyes and skin will not have access to the UV radiation emitted from the lamp. Safety Protection Sensor All handheld models have a safety sensor, and when the device is tilted up or tilted sideways to a specific angle, its UV lamp will automatically turn off to avoid the user or the surrounding crowd from being exposed to UV. Preset Operating Time The preset operation time of 4 box models and 1 handheld model is lower than the permissible time of exposure (the actual hazard posed by UV exposure is determined by its wavelength and intensity, and the time of exposure is also critical. The permissible time of exposure varies depending on the amount of effective irradiation and exposure limits. 1 handheld model allows the user to set the operating time manually (5, 10 and 15 minutes respectively), however, the settable operation time is much higher than its permissible time of exposure (30 seconds). 2. Disinfection Efficacy In addition to the safety of the product, the disinfection efficacy of the devices is also very important. Tests showed that most of the models had good bactericidal performance, but their ability to suppress viruses varies: Bactericidal Performance Staphylococcus aureusandKlebsiella pneumoniae were used as the testing bacteria of the test. The results showed that 3 box models and 1 handheld model had an average kill rate of the 2 testing bacteria models of 99.9% or above, among which 1 model if operated with a longer operation time (30 minutes), could reach an average kill rate of over 99.99%. However, the performances of the other 3 models were slightly inferior, and the average kill rate of the 2 testing bacteria ranged from 97.52% to 98.93%, which was slightly lower than claimed. Virucidal Performance Influenza A H1N1 was used as the testing virus. 2 handheld models had an outstanding performance in eliminating the testing virus, at a specific test distance and time, the viral infectivity was reduced by more than 99.99%. However, the performance of the 4 models was relatively inferior, and the infectivity of the testing virus was only inhibited by an average of 14.97% to 87.01%, and the virucidal performance was unsatisfactory. Product Usage Guide If you would like to use the products safely and effectively, view the following video with detailed consumer tips! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPbmOdCev7A Avoid Contact with UV Rays The UV radiation emitted by the product shall not reach the eyes and skin under any circumstances, especially when using handheld type devices. Both the users and the surrounding crowd must keep away from the UV light source and avoid staring at the light source. Avoid Children from Contact Products should be placed out of reach from children to prevent them from playing with these products and pointing the UV radiation towards themselves or their playmates’ eyes and skin, causing accidents. Location of UV Irradiation on Objects UVC has a low penetration depth and cannot penetrate through solid objects. Most UVC will be absorbed by plastic and glass, so it can only be used for surface disinfection. If the objects overlap, the hidden area cannot be disinfected by UVC. Simultaneously, when using a handheld disinfection device to disinfect an object with a large surface area (such as computer keyboards, tablets, door handles, etc.), with the need to disinfect each small area by irradiation, there are chances of misses. The user may not have enough patience and only casually sweep the disinfection device over the surface of the object, in which the irradiation period is insufficient, or the distance is not close enough to achieve complete disinfection. Use on Smooth, Non-porous Surfaces UVC disinfects on smooth and non-porous surfaces achieves a better disinfection performance. Bacteria and viruses may hide in gaps or in between fibres, they cannot be directly exposed to UVC. If UVC disinfection technology is applied to some objects with rough or porous surfaces, or objects with dirt, grease, skin dandruff and other pollutants on the surface, the disinfection efficacy will also be relatively low. When using such products to disinfect objects with uneven surfaces, it is necessary to place the device as close to the objects to be disinfected as practicable and keep it for a certain period of time to allow better disinfection performance. Ultraviolet Rays Accelerate the Deterioration of Plastics Not all objects are suitable for disinfection by UVC, such as plastic products, especially polypropylene (PP), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), rubber etc. If they are exposed to UVC for a long time, the deterioration of the material will be sped up, resulting in deformation, brittleness, discolouration and so on. UV rays may also cause colour changes on the surface of wall paint, photos, clothing, fabrics, and other surfaces. In addition, consumers should also avoid using direct UVC lights on plants so as not to affect their growth. Beware of Lifetime of Lamps When the product has been used for a long time, the intensity of the UV lamp may not be strong for disinfection, so consumers should pay heed to whether the product information indicates the lifetime of the UV lamp. Users should also regularly clean the dirt on the surface of the UV lamp or LED so as not to affect its intensity. In summary, the Council recommends that consumers should only treat the portable UV disinfection device as an aid of disinfection and should not over rely on their disinfection efficacy. Improper use of such products is more likely to pose a potential hazard to the skin and eyes. In fact, it is fast and effective to use diluted bleach or alcohol at a concentration of about 75% to disinfect frequently used objects and there is no fear of missing any gaps in disinfection. Proper hand washing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers after touching public objects are also effective measures to prevent the spread of viruses. To find out the best UV disinfection, download the 532 issue of CHOICE Monthly Magazine: ‘Half of Portable UV Disinfection Device at High Risk; Beware of Damage to Skin and Eyes' (Chinese version only). Extended Reading: Latest Summary on Effectiveness of Anti-epidemic Tools Although new COVID-19 vaccines have been introduced, the pandemic has not completely disappeared, and with the emergence of mutant viruses, we must always be vigilant. Read ‘Adapting to New Normal: Latest Summary on Effectiveness of 3 Anti-epidemic Tools’ (Chinese version only) now to find out which anti-epidemic products on the market can effectively protect yourselves.
5 ways to take good care of your washing machine Do not overload When the washing machine spins, the wet clothes in the drum will generate a strong centrifugal force. If you overload the machine, the drum will vibrate strongly, making the mechanical parts more prone to damage. Sundries such as coins and keys should also be removed before washing. Lower the spinning speed If the spinning speed is adjustable and time permits, it is recommended to set the spinning speed to < 1,200 rpm to reduce the chance of mechanical damage and wear and tear on clothes. At the same time, it is best to wash clothes at a lower temperature setting. If there are no children at home, the door of the washing machine should be left open after washing to prevent moisture build-up. Do not use laundry detergent spontaneously You should read the instructions on the packaging to determine the appropriate amount of laundry detergent to be used. Avoid using excessive amount to prevent foam build-up which may affect the operation of the machine. In addition, the detergent compartment should also be cleaned regularly to avoid the accumulation of chemical agents and affecting the operation. It is worth noting that some tests have showed that laundry liquid is easier to dissolve than powder and can deliver a better cleaning performance. It is also less harsh on the fabrics and leaves less residues on the drum. Clean the filter and drum regularly You should remove the small fibres caught on the lint filter regularly to prevent blockage of the drain hose. Furthermore, after the washing machine has been used for a period of time, dirt and residual detergent will build up in the hard-to-reach areas of the drum and may affect the cleaning performance of the machine. Some washing machines have a "drum cleaning" programme. Consumers can follow the instructions in the user’s manual and run it at least once a month. Some instructions recommend adding washing machine drum cleaner (which is available in household stores or supermarkets) to enhance the cleaning effect. Even if the washing machine does not have a "drum cleaning" programme, consumers can still clean the drum by regularly running a wash cycle at a high-temperature setting (if available) with an empty drum (i.e., without any clothes and detergent). Check the door and hose regularly You should check the rubber gasket of a front-loading washing machine regularly and remove any dust and debris that have been built up. If the washing machine takes longer than usual to fill up with water, you should check if the inlet hose and the filter are blocked. Manufacturers should design products that are easy to carry out repair and maintenance No matter how durable it is, a washing machine may still break down after years of usage. If the machine can be easily repaired, it will help in extending its useful life. For example, a design that enables easy removal of the outer casing and replacement of the faulty parts without the need of special tools; or a more flexible freestanding design that allows the detergent dispenser / hose to be removed more easily. Furthermore, according to a survey conducted by the Council, a few respondents indicated that they had experienced problems with the preset programmes of their washing machines / washer-dryers, reflecting that although smart functions make the operation more convenient, they may also affect the durability of the machines. Pay attention to after-sales service With comprehensive after-sales services, consumers will be more willing to repair their washing machines, which will help prolong the machines’ useful lives and reduce burden on the landfill. However, consumers should pay attention to the details of after-sales services to avoid potential disputes: 1. Time limit on free replacement If the new washing machine breaks down immediately after purchase, many brands will provide free replacement within a specified time limit after verification by a repairman. However, it should be noted that the validity period of some brands can be as short as 7 days from the date of purchase. If the delivery and installation take time, this deadline may be missed when the machine is turned on for the first time. Therefore, consumers should pay attention to this issue. 2. Pay attention to the definition of ‘whole machine warranty’ The definition of ‘whole machine’ in the warranty generally does not cover the outer casing, door, rubber gasket, hose and problems caused by installation. Therefore, damages to the body and door, or problems caused by improper installation are usually not covered by the warranty. Consumers should check the scope of the warranty before purchasing. 3. Onsite inspection fee If consumers live in remote areas, outlying islands or restricted areas, they usually have to pay onsite inspection fees, transportation costs, or have the machines sent to designated sites for repair. 4. Commitment on repair and maintenance When a new model is introduced, older models and their spare parts will gradually discontinue. Consumers may be forced to discard a faulty machine due to lack of parts. Consumers should pay attention to whether the brand has relevant policies to ensure continual maintenance 5 to 10 years after the product is launched and supply of spare parts for say 3 to 10 years after the product is discontinued. The Producer Responsibility Scheme on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment If consumers need to dispose of their old washing machines, they may make good use of the Producer Responsibility Scheme on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WPRS) by calling the recycling hotline of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD). WPRS covers 8 types of regulated electrical equipment (REE) including washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, air-conditioners, computers, printers, scanners and monitors, which account for approximately 85% of all electrical and electronic products in Hong Kong. These products contain chemical substances and heavy metals. If discarded or disassembled improperly, they may put the public and recycling workers at risk. Therefore, the EPD has set up a hotline (2676 8888) for the free recycling of REE. The public can call and book the recycling service. This service covers Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories. Even if you live on the top floor of a tenement building, or in a remote or rural area, you can still use this service. For more information, please refer to special feature ‘Maintenance of Washing Machines’ (Chinese version only) in issue #472 of CHOICE Magazine. Further reading: How to choose a washing machine Front-loading type, European top-loading type or impeller-type? Which washing machine is the best in terms of water and energy saving? Is there always a trade-off between water and energy saving? To answer these questions, you can refer to the article ‘Washing Machines: Can They Save Water and Energy At the Same Time?’ Further reading: Do you need to use fabric softener in every wash? Many consumers like to use fabric softener to make their clothes soft and fragrant. However, do you know that fabric softener should not be used on certain fabrics. In dry seasons, clothes with fabric softeners may cause allergies. To learn more on fabric softener, please refer to the article ‘Trivia Facts About Fabric Softener: Suitable for All Clothing? Can you DIY?’ (Chinese version only).
Direct cool vs. frost-free refrigerators Direct cool refrigerators are also known as conventional ‘frosty’ refrigerators. Moisture condenses continuously on the cold coils (evaporator) to form frost inside this type of refrigerators. As for frost-free refrigerators, a special built-in heating element melts the accumulating frost regularly. As such, users do not need to defrost manually. Frost-free refrigerators may not be suitable for all? Although frost-free refrigerators can defrost automatically and are more convenient, they also have certain limitations. Users should consider the following aspects to assess whether frost-free refrigerators are suitable for their homes. Home environment Frost-free refrigerators are generally larger in size with 2 or more doors. They may not be suitable for smaller living space. Level of moisture vaporization of food items When moisture of the food items stored inside the refrigerator vaporizes, it will add to frosting. Using a frost-free refrigerator is therefore more convenient in such situation! On the other hand, if the items you store do not vaporize a lot, e.g., Tetra Pack beverages, then the speed of frost formation will be lower and the chance of severe frost accumulation will also be smaller. Budget Frost-free refrigerators are generally more expensive. In addition, as the defrosting function consumes more energy, the electricity costs of running frost-free refrigerators are generally higher. Inverter refrigerators Inverter refrigerators are becoming more available nowadays, and they are generally more energy efficient. However, this technology is mainly used in refrigerators of larger size. For example, in the test conducted, 5 invertor refrigerators were all of larger size and frost-free models. And the smaller size direct cool refrigerators were all of fixed-speed compressor type. What are the main points for comparison? Apart from size, energy efficiency and price, consumers may also consider the following aspects when making comparisons across different refrigerator models: Freezing and cooling capacities If you want to chill or freeze your food and drinks quickly, you will need to choose a refrigerator with good freezing and cooling capacities. Taking the cooling capacity as an example, the time taken for some test samples to drop from room temperature to 10°C could range from 2.9 hours to 6.7 hours. In addition, some models may have a ‘fast freeze’ function, giving it a superior freezing capacity. Coldness preservation efficacy In the event of a power outage or temporary suspension, the coldness preservation efficacy of a refrigerator becomes very important. In the test conducted, the time taken for the freezer compartment to rise from -18 °C to -9°Cranged from 3 to 12.5 hours. Reserve capacity It refers to the rate at which the inside temperature of a refrigerator drops to a standard level when the unit is put in an extremely hot environment. In the test conducted, one model failed to bring the average temperature of the fresh food compartment down to 8°C after 23 hours, causing the test to halt. Do you know where to put your food items? Normally, people just randomly put their food items inside the refrigerator wherever they see space. In fact, temperature varies in different areas of the refrigerator. As food items may have different storage requirements, it is best to store them according to the following recommendations, e.g., fresh meat should be stored in a cooler section such as next to the fan holes; eggs should not be stored in the freezer, etc. Tips on defrosting Have you got all the necessary tools to do your defrosting job, e.g., screwdrivers and a hair dryer? Hold on! Read the following tips first: Turn the power off Unplug the unit from the power source and remove food items that need to be stored at lower temperatures. Open the refrigerator doors to make defrosting faster. Don’t rely on sharp objects / hairdryers Scraping ice inside the refrigerator with sharp objects may damage the refrigerant ducts. At the same time, attempts to melt ice with hairdryers can be counter-productive as they may deform the plastic parts inside the refrigerator. Prepare towels / old newspapers Towels and old newspapers can be very handy to soak up the excess water that overflows from the bottom tray during defrosting. Keep away from sources of heat Although the living space in Hong Kong is generally small and the kitchen space is also limited, you should still pay attention to the placement of the refrigerator, and should not choose a site too close to the stove. Take the models tested by the Consumer Council as an example, they all used R600a (isobutane) as the refrigerant and insulation materials containing cyclopentane, which were all inflammable substances. Lighting a flame near them would greatly increase fire risks! For more information, please refer to the article ‘Mid and Small-Size Refrigerators with High Energy Efficiency. Pros and Cons of Frost-Free and Direct Cool Models´ (Chinese version only) in issue #538 of CHOICE Magazine. Further reading: Some energy-saving tips on refrigerators After selecting a good refrigerator, you need to know how to use it properly, so that you can effectively save energy (and greatly reduce your electricity bills)! You may watch the video ‘The Energy-Saving Tips on Refrigerators´(Chinese version only) and start applying those tips!
What is a virtual bank? A virtual bank is a bank that primarily delivers retail banking services through the internet or other forms of electronic channels instead of physical branches. Consumers can open a virtual bank account and use other banking services via mobile apps, mostly facilitated by financial technology (also known as “fintech”). However, virtual banks are also required to set up a physical office in Hong Kong as the principal place of business to, inter alia, engage with customers, handle enquiries and complaints, and should not impose any minimum balance requirements or charge low-balance fees. Virtual banks generally target the retail segment, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Virtual banks are subject to the same set of supervisory requirements applicable to traditional banks, though certain requirements may be adjusted, under a risk-based and technology-neutral approach, to suit the business models of virtual banks. Is virtual banking suitable for you? Let’s find out by answering 3 simple questions: 1. Do you require investment services or mortgages? 2. Do you frequently make deposits in cash / cheques / cashier’s order? 3. Do you opt for making visits to branches for in-person services? If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above, then virtual banking may not be able to address all your needs. Let’s find out why: Types of service In the early establishment of virtual banks, services available are limited to savings deposits, time deposits, and local money transfers. Some also include other services such as debit cards, credit cards, foreign currency exchange and loans. Nonetheless, virtual banks do not render general services that traditional banks do, such as cheques, mortgages, and investments, etc. Deposits and withdrawals Traditional banks usually take deposits in cash, cheques, cashier’s orders or via bank transfers. Contrarily, with no physical branches, virtual banks are unable to take deposits in cash, cheques or cashier’s orders. Account holders can only make deposits through bank transfers. Furthermore, unless the virtual bank provides debit cards to facilitate payments at designated merchants or allow cash withdrawals at designated ATMs, account holders will have to first make a transfer from the virtual bank to another bank before the funds can be used, which can be time consuming. No physical branches As virtual banks do not have any physical branches, in case a customer wants to communicate with a bank personnel, under normal circumstances, that could only be done through instant messaging via the mobile apps or calling the hotlines. Customers are unable to make face-to-face enquiries at bank branches. What's more, if account holders have unfortunately lost their mobile phones or if their phones fail to function properly, they will not be able to use the banking services until they have a new phone or have the faulty one repaired. *Debit card: It is an ATM card linked to a bank account, which can be used to withdraw money from the bank account through ATMs of designated networks (e.g., JETCO) and make payments at merchants. Cardholders can also withdraw money at designated merchants through EPS or pay for goods bought online. In addition, debit card can be used to make transfers, pay bills and check account balances. Before using a debit card, consumers must deposit money into the bank account. Subsequent withdrawals or spendings using the card will be debited directly from the account. Transactions will normally be declined when the bank account does not have sufficient fund, thereby preventing the cardholder from spending beyond means. Traditional Banks Virtual Banks Customer segment All Mainly retail customers (including individuals and SMEs) Channels Branches / ATMs / automated banking machines / telephones / Internet / mobile apps Mainly via mobile apps; some virtual banks provide withdrawal services via designated ATMs, or certain banking services via telephones or the Internet. Business hours Depending on the channels and types of services, some services are only available during banking hours; however, most services are available 24/7 via online banking, mobile apps, or through some of the automated banking machines. Most of the services are available 24/7 (However, currently some services, e.g., foreign exchange and loans are only available during specified hours). Services Comprehensive banking services including deposits, withdrawals, time deposits, local transfers, telegraphic transfers, cheques, foreign exchange, mortgages, loans, insurance, credit cards, and investments. Currently, services mainly consist of deposits, withdrawals, time deposits, local transfers, and debit cards. Some virtual banks also provide individual and SME loans, credit cards, foreign exchange, and insurance. Account opening procedures Customers can open bank accounts and undergo identity verification at the branches; some banks offer remote account opening via mobile apps. Mainly done remotely via mobile apps. Required documents for account opening For opening savings or deposit account, normally an ID should suffice; for applying investment account or loans, residential address proof and other documents may also be required. Cash withdrawals At branches From ATMs using ATM cards / some banks support cardless withdrawals using mobile apps From designated merchants using ATM cards Some virtual banks support withdrawals from ATMs using ATM cards or via mobile apps (cardless withdrawals) Customers need to transfer funds into another bank first, then make withdrawals via the usual channels Account balances and charges A majority of retail banks have eliminated below balance fees on most types of accounts; certain account types may still have minimum balance requirements and associated below balance fees No minimum balance requirements or below balance fees Supervision By the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) Network security / data protection Pursuant to the Supervisory Policy Manual of HKMA, banks are required to implement adequate IT control measure to safeguard the confidentiality and completeness of data, especially the confidentiality of customers’ data. Banks are required to adhere to the ‘fit for purpose’ principle, i.e., the security measures and technologies adopted by banks are required to be commensurate with the risks associated with the underlying transactions. Deposit protection Under the Deposit Protection Scheme, deposits placed with each member bank are protected up to HK$500,000 per depositor Note: The above is only a general summary of the typical differences between traditional banks and virtual banks. Individual banks may vary in their product/ service offerings. Details about virtual bank accounts If you think virtual banking is suitable for you after careful consideration, the next step is bank selection. The Consumer Council (or the ‘Council’) previously conducted a survey on 8 virtual banks in Hong Kong and consolidated the following factors which you may consider when comparing services amongst different virtual banks: Eligibility criteria for account opening To be eligible for opening a virtual bank account, one must be aged 18 or above and must be a holder of Hong Kong ID. Most of the banks indicated that they could not open bank accounts for U.S. citizens, individuals who were tax residents of the U.S. or other jurisdictions outside Hong Kong. Besides that, the 8 banks shared similar account opening procedures, which involved downloading the bank’s mobile app, verifying one’s mobile phone number, uploading ID card, activating facial recognition function (by taking selfies), and providing personal details. It was also noted that all the virtual banks in Hong Kong do not charge a fee on account opening. Interest rates on deposits All the virtual banks surveyed took savings deposits in Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) while only a few of them took deposits in Renminbi (RMB) and US Dollars (USD) as well. Consumers should be aware that the high interest rates offered by banks on deposits might have conditions attached, e.g., such rates might only be applicable to new customers who opened bank accounts during a specified period and deposited a particular amount within a specified timeframe, and such rates might drop substantially afterwards. Most of the virtual banks offered different interest rates depending on the deposit amount. The frequency of interest distribution also varied among banks, some paid daily interests whereas some paid monthly interests. Only 4 out of the 8 virtual banks offered time deposits services. Among the 4 banks, 1 provided only HKD time deposits, while the other 3 also provided RMB and USD time deposits. Some banks determined the annual interest rates on time deposits based on the number of partakers, the more the partakers, the higher the interest rates. Consumers should also be aware of charges and consequences on early redemption of time deposits. In some events, the interests might be forfeited. Maximum transfer limits All the virtual banks surveyed accepted real-time deposits and transfers through the Faster Payment System (FPS), and accepted deposits via the Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) (also known as the Clearing House Automated Transfer Systems (CHATS)). Some banks also provided specific options for deposits / transfers. It should be noted that if deposits were to be made from other local banks under direct debits (i.e., via Electronic Direct Debit Authorisation (eDDA)) to the virtual bank accounts, despite being free of charge, there would generally be a daily deposit limit, ranging from HK$30,000 to HK$500,000. All the surveyed virtual banks imposed a daily outward transfer limit, ranging between HK$200,000 and HK$1 million. The limits depended on certain factors, such as completion of the bank’s internal assessment process, mode of transfer, and whether the recipient was a registered account with the virtual bank or an account under the same name as the transferer, etc. Among the 8 virtual banks surveyed, only 1 of them accepted deposits from overseas transfers, and such service was free of charge and did not have any transfer limits in place. Cash withdrawals As outlined above, some virtual banks provided withdrawal services via debit cards / credit cards with daily withdrawal limits ranging from HK$20,000 to HK$50,000. However, these services might not be free of charge, e.g., some banks charged HK$20 – HK$30 for every withdrawal made via the Mastercard ATM network, some banks charged HK$20 plus a foreign transaction fee for every foreign currency withdrawal via the Visa ATM network. Some of the banks provided cardless withdrawal services via designated ATMs for free. Binding of digital wallets / e-payment apps Most of the accounts and debit cards provided by the virtual banks allowed the binding of certain digital wallets / e-payment apps, such as Alipay HK, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, etc. Consumers can go through the list to determine which bank can better support their payment habits. Spending rebates To encourage spendings by account holders, virtual banks that issued debit cards or credit cards normally did not charge any annual fees, and would offer certain spending rebates to consumers. However, the criteria for receiving these promotional offers and the maximum limits differed across banks, e.g., some banks would offer cash rebates of 1% - 8% depending on the categories of spending, others might determine the rebate amount through lucky draws. The maximum limits varied from HK$250 per month to HK$10,000 per transaction. Consumers should beware that the promotional offers are subject to change, as such they should not spend beyond their means for the sake of such offers. Furthermore, no matter using traditional banking or virtual banking services, consumers should always keep their mobile phones safe, update the operation and security systems of the phones, as well as the mobile apps of the relevant banks from time to time. Consumers should also beware of computer viruses and hackings. Last but not least, closing a virtual bank account is more than just removing the mobile app. The account holder should first transfer the funds to another bank account, download the e-statement or notifications for record, then notify the virtual bank’s customer service team to arrange for the closing of the account. For more information, please refer to the article ‘A Comprehensive Review on Virtual Banks Conditions Attached to the High Interest Rates and Rebates’ (Chinese version only) in Issue #537 of the CHOICE Magazine.
First of all, Let MIRROR tell you how to choose a ‘2 horsepower’ window-type air conditioner! ‘MIRROR x Review on Window-Type Air Conditioners’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syOgzq70tO0 Fixed capacity type vs. inverter type Nowadays, newer split-type cooling-only or reverse cycle air conditioners that are available on the market are mainly inverter type. Conventional fixed capacity type air conditioners are being gradually phased out. Why? What are the differences between these 2 types? Fixed capacity type The compressor runs at a fixed top speed, and pauses and restarts repeatedly to adjust the room temperature. Inverter type The compressor automatically adjusts the speed within a certain range. Usually, it runs at a high speed in the beginning, and reduces the speed automatically when the room temperature is closer to the target temperature. How does it relate to energy-saving? A compressor typically consumes less energy at lower speed. Moreover, it also operates more efficiently at lower speed, which is the key to energy-saving. ´Grade 1’ home appliances may vary in electricity costs by 56% annually In the first half of 2021, the Consumer Council (the ‘Council’) tested 14 inverter split-type reverse cycle air conditioners. Although all of them rated Grade 1 on the energy label, their energy efficiency varied significantly! Assuming all models were used in an environment with the same cooling requirement, using the less energy-efficient model could cost 56% more in electricity tariff! Therefore, if you want to reduce electricity costs and contribute to environmental protection, you will have to choose your air conditioner carefully! Are you eager to find out which model is good? Please refer to the article ‘Energy Saving, Environmental Friendly, Fast-Cooling 1½ Horsepower Inverter Split-Type Air Conditioners’ (Chinese version only) in issue #534 of CHOICE Magazine. Inverter window-type air conditioners In the past, inverter technology was mainly used in split-type air conditioners. Nowadays, there are more inverter window-type air conditioners available on the market, giving more choices to consumers who have space constraints. Tips for choosing inverter type air conditioners 1. Installation: Inverter window-type air conditioners can be larger and heavier Due to the more complex mechanical design, inverter window-type air conditioners can be 10cm deeper and heavier than fixed capacity ones with similar cooling capacity. Consumers consider installing inverter window-type air conditioners should check whether the space is suitable and large enough for installation. 2. Energy efficiency: Inverter split-type is better than window-type If we compare the test results published by the Council in 2017 on inverter split-type air conditioners to the results on inverter window-type air conditioners in 2019, it is found that inverter window-type air conditioners are less energy efficient than inverter split-type ones. 3. Cooling capacity: Watch out for exaggerated claims Cooling capacity refers to the speed at which the air conditioner removes heat from the indoor air to outdoors. The higher the value, the faster it cools. If the cooling capacity of an air conditioner cannot satisfy the cooling requirement of the space, the unit will have to operate at high speed for a long time. And users will not reap the benefits of an inverter type air conditioner in terms of high energy efficiency. The Council tested 14 ‘1 ½ horsepower’ inverter-type air conditioners in April 2021, and found that the cooling capacity of most models was roughly in line with the claimed value. Among them, the cooling capacity of 9 models was in line with or higher than the claimed value, with 1 model having a cooling capacity 6.6% higher than the claimed value. 4 other tested models had discrepancies within the acceptable 10% tolerance range under the Code of Practice on Energy Labelling of Products and common international practices. Only 1 model whose actual cooling capacity was 17.6% lower than the claimed value and its performance was only equivalent to an ‘1 horsepower’ air conditioner. 4. Airflow rate : The higher, the better The higher the airflow rate, the more air can be blown out by the air conditioner. This can improve air circulation and help to achieve an ideal room temperature faster, thus making users feel comfortably cool. In addition, the fan speed should have a wide enough range. The wider the fan speed range, the better the performance, as otherwise the user cannot feel the differences under different speed settings. Areas to watch out when using inverter type air conditioners Set the target temperature by phases If you don’t have an urgency to cool down quickly, and don’t mind that the room temperature gradually lowers, you may set the target temperature by phases. At first, don’t set the target temperature too low. Instead, you can set the target temperature only a little bit lower than the prevailing room temperature and adjust it downwards bit by bit (for example, every 15 minutes) until the desired temperature is reached. This can help reduce the time that the inverter type air conditioner has to operate at high speed, thus achieving additional energy saving. Other tips on energy saving Electricity costs rise with the actual cooling requirement which can be escalated by various factors such as humidity, larger room size, windows facing direct sunlight, air leakage through doors and windows, running exhaust fans, multiple appliances running at the same time, or a large number of people in the same room, etc. Therefore, it is recommended to draw the curtains to avoid direct sunlight, close the doors and windows where possible to maintain the interior temperature, and do not block the air inlet / outlet of the air conditioner. Some more tips on energy saving: During summer, it is recommended to clean the air conditioner's dust filter, air inlet and outlet once every 2 weeks to prevent airflow obstruction which may impact its performance. Arrange for regular checks, maintenance and repair by an experienced technician. During summer, you may feel extremely hot when you return home. You can take a shower or drink some water to quickly cool down your body. Therefore, it is not necessary to set the target temperature too low. It is recommended to keep the room temperature at around 25.5°C in summer. During winter, using the heating function of a reverse cycle air conditioner can save more energy than using an electric or a fan heater. An electric fan consumes less energy than an air conditioner. If both the air conditioner and electric fan are turned on at the same time, cool air can be blown towards the user. In this way, the target temperature of the air conditioner can be set at a higher level, thus saving more energy. If the air conditioner has a timer, preset a switch-off time to avoid using it for too long or forgetting to turn it off. In order to reap the full benefits of an inverter type air conditioner in terms of high efficiency and energy savings, avoid prolonged operation of the unit under full load. Ensure that the air conditioner only operates at high speed for a short period of time when it is initially switched on. Subsequent cooling only requires the unit to operate at a low speed. Using low fan speed for dehumidification? This is not energy efficient! The cooling function of air conditioner can bring 2 effects on the air, with the primary one being the lowering of air temperature and the other being dehumidification. Moisture is removed through a pipe in a split-type air conditioner. If you want to achieve better dehumidification result, choose a lower fan speed. However, a lower fan speed setting will hinder the full cooling capacity of the air conditioner, resulting in lower energy efficiency. Therefore, it is not recommended to frequently use a low fan speed setting unless necessary. Practical tips on installation and maintenance Installation instructions Some retailers include basic installation service in the marked price, but consumers should check before buying to be sure. If there is no designated cement space for the air conditioner unit, and that it has to be installed on a window frame, consumers should ensure that the window frame and supporting structure are strong and secure enough to hold the unit. Even if there is a designated space, the air conditioner unit must be firmly secured on the cement space. In addition, the metal frame must be connected with equipotential bonding to minimise the risk of having accidental electric shock. Nowadays, some newer-style residential buildings, especially those with glass screen walls, lack considerations with respect to residents’ specific requirements in the installation and subsequent maintenance of air conditioners. Residents may only be able to install split-type air conditioners within designated spaces and it is not possible to install window-type units. Moreover, a gondola will need to be booked in advance for the installation and maintenance of the air conditioners. Consumers should therefore take into consideration the higher budget (for both installation and subsequent maintenance) and time involved. Pay attention to the warranty period Some dealers may set a time limit and may not accept any warranty renewal if the air conditioner has been used for a certain period of time, or require an onsite inspection before deciding whether to accept the renewal request. Furthermore, warranty renewal may be refused for remote areas. Therefore, prior to the renewal date, consumers should check the various terms with the agent, including waiver provisions on transportation fee, labour and spare part costs, etc, before making any decision on renewal. Tips on the disposal of air conditioners Under the Producer Responsibility Scheme on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WPRS), consumers should ensure that used air conditioner units and other regulated electrical equipment (REE) are properly collected to reduce their impact on the environment. In addition to requesting the seller to arrange for a free statutory removal service when purchasing a new air conditioner unit or other REE, consumers may also use the following services: Call the Collection Hotline (2676 8888) for collection enquiries and arrange for collection services; Send the used appliances to suitable recyclers via the ‘GREEN‌@COMMUNITY’ program for proper disposal; For further details, please visit www.weee.gov.hk After-sales service The warranty period provided by different agents may differ. For example, it may range from 12 to 39 months. The compressor is a more durable component, and therefore its warranty period is generally longer. Some agents even provide a lifetime warranty. During the warranty period, users in urban areas are generally provided with free onsite inspection services. As for users living in remote areas, charges are usually required. If an air conditioner requires repairment, as long as the defects are not caused by human factors, most warranties of new units will waive the costs of labour and spare parts. Want to find out more on window-type air conditioners while watching MIRROR? Please refer to the article ‘2 Horsepower Window-Type Air Conditioners: Inverter Types Are Quieter and Can Save More Energy than Fixed Capacity Types’ (Chinese version only) in issue #511 of CHOICE Magazine. If you have decided to install an inverter split-type air conditioner, you may refer to the detailed report in the article ‘Energy Saving, Environmental Friendly, Fast Cooling 1½ Horsepower Inverter Split-Type Air Conditioners’ (Chinese version only) in issue #534 of CHOICE Magazine. Further reading: ‘4 Key Tips To Enjoy The Cool Breeze Without Breaking The Bank?’ https://www.consumer.org.hk/en/shopping-guide/tips/2020-tips-electricbill
At present, most dehumidifiers on the market are compressor-type dehumidifiers while desiccant-type dehumidifiers have gradually been withdrawn from the market. In addition, there are 2-in-1 air purifying dehumidifiers which usually claim to remove particulate matter and formaldehyde. The working principle of the compressor-type dehumidifier is using the compressor to propel and circulate the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser. Moisture in the air (moisture in the air condenses, not the moist air) passing through the evaporator will condense into water droplets on the surface of the evaporator and drip down into the water tank. Then, the air will be discharged out of the radiating pipe, drier and warmer than before. Then, the air will be discharged out of the radiating pipe, drier and warmer than before. Don’t trust the manufacturer's test environment; you should refer to the energy label Usually there are two daily dehumidifying capacity values, one commonly found in energy labels and one in product promotion leaflets. At present, compressor-type dehumidifiers sold in Hong Kong must bear the energy label specified in the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme. The energy efficiency level on the label is calculated based on the energy efficiency, the rated dehumidification amount in a standard environment and other data provided by a certified laboratory in the test report submitted by the agent to the EMSD. It is mainly divided into 5 levels, with level 1 representing the highest energy efficiency and being most energy-saving among dehumidifiers with the same rated dehumidifying capacity. The amount of dehumidification given on the energy label is measured in thestandard environment specified in the labelling scheme and is more objective. The claimed dehumidifying capacity marked on the promotion leaflets are usually measured under the manufacturer's test environment(i.e. temperature 30°C and relative humidity 80%), and may not accurately reflect actual circumstances of use. Consumers should pay attention to the test temperature and humidity when referring to the daily dehumidification amount claimed on the promotion leaflet or product manual. It is not advisable to use the set of values measured under higher temperature and humidity for product comparison. For example, the daily dehumidifying capacity of compressor-type dehumidifiers measured under higher temperature and humidity will be higher, which may mislead consumers into thinking that the performance of the product is better, yet failing to meet up to expectations during usage. Dehumidifying Performance under the standard environment: the actual dehumidifying capacity may be lower than claimed Under standard environment, does the actual daily dehumidifying capacity match the values of the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme? The test results showed that 6 models had a lower dehumidifying capacity than claimed. Some were only slightly lower by about 0.1% to 1.1%, while 1 was about 6.9% lower than its claimed value, but the difference was still within the 10% tolerance level which is acceptable under the scheme. What is a inverter-type compressor dehumidifier? Inverter-type compressor dehumidifiers can automatically adjust the speed within a certain range, while compressor dehumidifiers can only operate at the highest power consumption mode and cannot adjustthe speed. The inverter-type compressor dehumidifier will operate at a higher speed upon starting, and it will automatically reduce the speed when the indoor humidity reaches the preset relative humidity. The power consumption at low speed is lower than that at high speed, but the key is that the energy efficiency at lower speed is generally higher, so it can save energy. No need to buy the model with highest dehumidifying capacity ? It is advisable to consider home environmental factors Understand your actual need at home (在選購時) when choosing a product: if your home is large or you live close to the sea or in a humid district, or if you want quick dehumidification, consider models with stronger capacity, and vice versa. In addition, you can also consider whether you need to turn on the dehumidifier all year round at home, or whether there is a requirement for the dehumidifying speed. For example, users who do not require particularly high dehumidifying speed can consider cheaper and smaller models. Air Purifying Performance varied significantly Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) This is a parameter that reflects the air purification ability of the air purifier, which refers to the speed at which the air purifier provides air without specific pollutants, and the higher the value, the faster the speed of purification of the pollutants, the better the purification capacity. Removal of particulate matter: Particulate matter refers to cigarette smoke, dust and pollen, etc. The CADR of the four 2-in-1 air purifying dehumidifiers were tested. Taking the results of removing cigarette smoke as an example, the slowest speed was 45.2FT3/min, while the highest speed was 133.7 FT3/min, that is, the sample with the highest purification speed could be up to 2 times faster. Removal of formaldehyde: All 4 models can reduce the concentration of formaldehyde, but the speed is quite slow, from 5.7 to 16.4 FT3/min. The GB/T standard is measured in cubic metres per hour, and the CADR of each sample in this unit is between 9.7 and 27.9 cubic metres per hour, which means the purification speed varied by 1. 9 times. Easy to use Other details to consider, such as ease of use, are also important points to note before purchase. Here is a brief list: Exterior design Size Whether it will occupy a lot of space, whether it can be stored when not in use, or whether it can only be placed in the corner of the living room. Movable castors: Whether it is convenient for the user to move, for example, between the living room and bedroom. Cover of air outlet: If there is no cover for the upward air outlet, dust can easily fall into the air outlet when the dehumidifier is not in use. Daily usage Control panel functions: For example, can you preset the timer (preset the one-off time, not timer)to avoid operating for too long or forgetting to shut down. Extended hose: Some models come with an extension hose that can be used to dehumidify wardrobes or shoe cabinets. Water tank: Pay attention to the capacity, whether it requires frequent emptying, the difficulty of assembly, and the design of the handle. Other: Indicator light, switches/buttons operations. Cleaning and maintenance Easy assembly: For two-in-one models with air purifiers, attention should be paid to whether it is easy to install and remove the HEPA filter and dust filter. Indicators: Some models have a filter cleaning reminder, but it is also important to note that the filter of some models cannot be cleaned with water. Costs in the long run: The filter of two-in-one air purifying dehumidifiers has to be replaced in a timely manner, and the cost of replacing the filter in the long run should be considered; the filter must be cleaned and replaced in a timely manner; otherwise, the air purifying performance will be greatly reduced. After understanding the above points, let’s look at the actual tests!【Issue 520 of "Choice" monthly magazine: First test of 2-in-1 dehumidifiers Air purification performance is uneven 5 dehumidifiers have outstanding performance(Chinese Only)】See which model is right for you!
What are the “more sustainable” choices in Hong Kong? In recent years, there are a number of new developments in Hong Kong on sustainable consumption, such as waste reduction at source initiatives (e.g., zero-waste store) and recycling initiatives (e.g., garment to garment recycling system, Tetra Pak recycling facility), etc. 1 Zero-waste store in Hong Kong The first zero-waste store was opened in 2018 in Sai Ying Pun and more stores joined to provide no-packaging products in order to minimize the use of packaging materials. Packaging materials, despite having a short shelf life (of a few minutes to a few days), constitute a major part of municipal solid waste. 2 The world's first garment to garment recycling system The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), in cooperation with garment manufacturers and international apparel brands, developed and launched the world’s first garment to garment recycling system (G2G) in Hong Kong in December 2018. The G2G system can perform a series of processes including: cutting fabric into smaller pieces, opening and mixing fibre, carding, spinning and garment knitting. It takes as little as 4 hours to turn an old garment into a new piece and has showcased the textile and garment industry’s ability to achieving sustainable development. 3 Drink cartons can now be recycled! The main recyclable materials in Hong Kong include paper, metal, plastic and glass. As compound materials are difficult to recycle, items such as drink cartons which are typically made from layers of paper, polyethylene and aluminum, have a recycling rate close to zero and generate a large amount of waste. In view of this, one beverage manufacturer in Hong Kong launched a new recycling scheme and a recycling facility in 2019 to promote sustainable development of the industry, with dozens of smart recycling systems installed in various locations throughout the territory. 4 Various ecolabelling programs In order to help consumers in finding sustainable products, a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) in Hong Kong have put in place various ecolabelling and certification programs to attest the environmental standards across a wide range of products, from household cleaning products to building materials. Hong Kong Green Label Scheme CIC Green Product Certification – HK G-Pass HKQAA Hong Kong Registration-Eco-Friendly Series Sustainable consumption can be “Strong” or “Weak” “Weak Sustainable Consumption” refers to actions arising from individuals’ own needs or choices to conserve and reduce waste. For example, one will switch off the lights when leaving a room, or select a more energy-efficient model when purchasing a new electrical product. These actions can save money and also are eco-friendly. They are relatively easy to follow as consumers do not need to make drastic changes to their original consumption behaviour. However, “Weak Sustainable Consumption” alone is not enough to support the sustainable development of our society. Therefore, it is necessary to promote “Strong Sustainable Consumption”. "Strong Sustainable Consumption" must take into account matters such as "product life cycle" and the long-term impact of the purchased product on the ecological environment and society. For example, before making a purchase decision one will consider matters such as power consumption of the product during its production process, labour rights of the workers, impact on the ecological environment of endangered species, possibilities of causing water and air pollution, disposal and recycling options, and corporate social responsibility measures of the manufacturers and retailers, etc. How to promote sustainable consumption? — Let’s learn from our foreign friends! Using economic incentives to encourage the consumption of sustainable products: Some foreign governments have launched cash reward programs. For example, the South Korean Government launched the "Green Credit Card Scheme" in 2011. Cardholders are rewarded with points when they use public transportation, buy eco-friendly products, or implement water-saving or energy-saving measures at home and the points accumulated can then be used to purchase eco-friendly products or services. Certification / accreditation programs operated by a government agency or a credible third-party organisation can increase the transparency of product information: It is not easy for consumers to obtain information on the sustainability aspect of a product. There are a number of voluntary ecolabelling schemes in the world, such as “EU Ecolabel” by the European Union, which allow consumers to identify products that meet high environmental standards. Besides, the "Seafood Guide" launched by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which uses simple and easy-to-understand guidelines to assist consumers in choosing sustainable seafood. A user-friendly platform can facilitate consumers in accessing information about sustainable products: There are different types of claims and labels relating to sustainable products on the market. Consumers need to have sufficient knowledge or invest enough time to understand the certification process and regulatory system behind these ecolabels and determine whether the products actually meet their needs. Therefore, an easy-to-browse platform can save consumers time while promoting sustainable consumption behaviour. Sending gifts this festive season can be more eco-friendly by simply saying "No need to wrap, thank you!" We also want to remind everyone to consume smartly! As the festive season approaches, when consumers buy chocolates or candies as gifts, they should opt for those in ordinary packaging. Gift boxes are often over-packaged, and therefore are also more expensive when compared with ordinary packaging. After reading the above information, why not take a quiz?! You can find in “Quiz for the Eco Consumption Guru”, CHOICE Magazine, Issue 521 (Chinese version only) a list of questions on your consumption patten relating to clothing, dining, living and commuting. Let’s find out if you are a “Basic” or an “Advanced” level eco consumption guru!
3 different types of washing machines 1) Front-loading type (commonly referred as ‘Big Eyes’); 2) European top-loading type which typically has a narrower body, and 3) Japanese top-loading type (also known as the impeller type). In front-loading and European top-loading types, the drum rotates around a horizontal axis and the clothes are tumbled inside the drum. In impeller type, the drum rotates around a vertical axis. Performance showdown The Consumer Council recently tested 18 washing machine models on their energy-saving and water-saving performances, cleaning performance, noise level and vibration reduction, etc. Here is a summary of the results for your reference: Which type had the best cleaning performance? In general, the front-loading and European top-loading models which could heat up water seemed to be more effective in delivering the cleansing power of laundry detergent. Although the impeller models did not have any heating function and washed with room-temperature water only, the test results showed that some models did not necessarily give inferior cleaning results. Duration of the washing phase For the same type of washing machine, the longer the washing phase, generally the cleaner the laundry would be. Many models had a ‘quick wash’ cycle which, e.g., could complete washing, rinsing and spinning within 15 minutes. However, this cycle should only be used for smaller load and less-soiled clothes. Which type had the least detergent residuals after rinsing? The lesser the amount of detergent remained on the clothes, the better the rinsing performance was. A number of the front-loading and impeller models scored well in this test! Were the clothes still very wet after spinning? The water-extraction performance of the tested models varied. For example, in ‘cotton clothing’ session, the front-loading models varied between 42% and 112% in remaining moisture content. Due to their lower spinning speed, the impeller models generally had inferior water-extraction performance. Which type of washing machine has the shortest wash cycle? To complete the laundry in a fast fashion can be very helpful when you face endless housework. Which type of washing machine has a shorter wash cycle? In the test, all the impeller models performed well, taking about 7 to 20 minutes to wash each kilogram of clothes. The performance of the front-loading models varied significantly, taking about 17 to 59 minutes for each kilogram of laundry. European top-loading models took longer on average with 32 to 44 minutes for each kilogram of laundry. Achieving water and energy savings at the same time may not be possible Wishing that your washing machine can save water and energy at the same time? Well, it may not be possible in reality! In terms of energy consumption, since the impeller type does not have a heating function, and the spinning speed is generally lower as well as their wash cycles are often shorter, in general, they consume less energy than the front-loading type and European top-loading type. In terms of water consumption, since the clothes are tumbled in the front-loading and European top-loading models, there is no need to fill up the whole drum with water. Therefore, they generally use less water than the impeller type. Furthermore, using cold water or turning on the ‘eco’ mode can help save energy. Sorting clothes according to their materials and soil level, and using the appropriate wash cycles can help achieve water and energy savings more effectively! Pay attention to child safety features In terms of child safety features, the front-loading and European top-loading types are better as their doors are locked during the wash cycle. Because the drum opening of the impeller type is on top and wider in general, if the child lock function is not activated, the risk of children accidentally falling into the machine is higher. Moreover, the drum is filled with water during the wash cycle, which may not be drained automatically when the lid is opened, thus children may drown if they accidentally fall headfirst into the drum. Therefore, parents must pay attention to whether the washing machine is equipped with a child lock function when purchasing as it will help reduce the risk of accidents. Maintenance tips It is not cheap to buy a washing machine, so how to maintain and use it properly to prolong its useful life? Some models have a "drum cleaning" cycle, which should be used at least once a month. Consumers can also clean the drum regularly by running a hot water cycle with an empty drum (i.e., without any clothes and detergent). Avoid washing too many clothes at one time to reduce the vibration level of the drum during high-speed spinning. This can reduce the chance of mechanical damage. Use an appropriate amount of laundry detergent according to the instructions on the packaging. Using too much detergent may result in excessive foam and affect the operation of the machine. If the spinning speed is adjustable, consider lowering the speed to reduce the chance of mechanical damage as well as wear and tear on clothes. Extra: Some ‘eco’ tips Use cold water or the ‘eco’ mode to help save energy. Sort clothes according to their material and soil level and use the appropriate wash cycle in accordance with the user’s manual. This can help save water and energy more effectively. Try to wash with a full load. Using excessive amount of laundry detergent may not enhance the cleaning performance. It will only be a waste of money and may even cause environmental pollution. For the full report on the test, please refer to the article ‘Impeller-Type Front-Loading Type European Top-Loading Type Which Model Consumes Less Energy or Water’ (Chinese version only) in issue # 529 of CHOICE Magazine.