Choosing a Microwave Oven

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Choosing a Microwave Oven

How many watts is your microwave oven? Where did you purchase it? I currently don't own one; however, I am considering getting one. I was reading an article on ways to slash your electric bill. It stated that heating up food in an oven used a lot more electricity than heating up food in a microwave oven.

I live where Dominion Virginia Power charges a small fortune for electricity. My current bill is $155, which is down from last month's $168 bill. I'd like to see if I can shave it down a little more. I was thinking that 1,000 watts would be better than a less powerful microwave oven. Where do you find good prices on microwaves besides Wal-Mart?

What Does Consumer Reports Say?

There are many things to consider before buying a microwave. Make sure that you get one that is powerful enough to do what you want to with it. For instance, not every microwave in the world will pop popcorn properly without just burning the kernels. Also, there are several brands and hundreds of models to choose from, which I found out when I needed to buy a new machine. Here's where Consumer Reports (CR) saved me a lot of trouble and expense. I went to their website and looked for the type of microwave I needed. They had a list of several reliable models and a price for each. At this point the shopper can go to their favorite shopping e-spot and get the best deal for the one they've decided on. If you don't want to pay their nominal $29 per year fee, there is also, which gets its information from CR and other sources, but doesn't seem to offer as many options. It is free, however. Happy shopping!
Amy T. in Albuquerque, NM

There's Other Options besides Buying New

For great buys on microwave ovens, look for slightly dented or scratched ones at appliance stores. Discontinued models are also often discounted. I bought mine several years ago at Wal-Mart. It was the last one they had of this particularly model, so I got a good deal. Any big box store will have a decent price, but you may do better at a thrift shop or even a yard sale. You might possibly find one free at or If it doesn't come with the operating manual, simply look it up online, using the model number posted inside the oven.

My microwave oven is about 1100 watts. It cooks and reheats fairly quickly. I have used a microwave for over 30 years to cook vegetables, even turkeys. The kitchen stays cooler and the food cooks faster. Be sure to allow "standing time" as part of the cooking time. I suspect that wattage and time are trade-offs, meaning that higher wattage cooks faster, lower wattage takes longer. In addition, higher wattage ovens often have additional features.

Size Is More Important than Wattage

My experience has been that the wattage doesn't matter a lot. If the wattage is low, it will take longer to heat food. Higher wattage microwaves are faster, so the money for electricity is about the same per use.

More important than the wattage is the size. I took a couple of glass pans and dishes that I use to the store to see if they would fit. Don't get one too small. It will limit what you can cook or heat up.

I use my microwave all the time and it certainly is much less expensive to use than the oven or the stovetop. I love it for steaming veggies, re-heating everything, making tea, etc.

If you have a microwave and a toaster over, you can cut using your big oven by 80% or more, unless you have a big family and/or bake a lot of cakes, breads or turkeys!

Wal-Mart is always a good place to start your search. I got mine at Best Buy years ago, and it still works. It's a GE, but there are a lot of good ones out there and it will pay for itself quickly.

Dent and Scratch

I get my appliances from local dealers, but only from the "dent and scratch" section. Or I look for floor models and discontinued models that still have full warranties. That's how I got a new energy efficient washer from my local appliance dealership for $549 and then I got a $100 credit on my water bill.

Love My Microwave … But Love My Toaster Oven Even More

I have had large, over-the-range microwaves and my current $50 Wal-Mart model. I like it just as well. It takes up little space on my counter and adds only seconds to the time I microwaved in my bigger oven. I use a good Cuisinart toaster oven even more. It replaces my toaster and I only bake bread in my big oven. I make biscuits, muffins, pies and single layer 8-9" cakes in it, as well as pizzas, casseroles, baked chicken, pork chops, and even baked custard with very good success. It preheats in five minutes, and heats up my kitchen much less too.
Sue in Iowa

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