Ersatz appliances are those that are poor imitations of the original. If you are ‘ersatz’ it means you dislike something simple because it ISN’T original. But can you be persuaded otherwise?
If you’re like most people, you want the genuine article, not Ersatz appliances. Despite what founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, might say about the virtues of fakes, there’s a desire for authenticity in all of us.
Having said that, it’s important not to confuse our desire for something, and it’s objective capacity to improve our lives. Sure we could go with authentic leather shoes, but leather shoes tend to be about twice the price of their faux-leather counterparts and more effort to maintain to boot!
Unsurprisingly, the same principle applies to household appliances. While we’d love for all our gear to be totally authentic, the actual costs involved in doing so can be prohibitive.
Next time you’re thinking about upgrading your appliances, consider the following.
Ersatz Appliances Versus The Genuine Article
Aga Versus Electric Cooker
Agas are all the rage right now. They’re a quintessential part of a traditional kitchen, thanks to their retro looks and classical feel. Agas are a window to the past: a glance back at how people used to use their kitchens and prepare meals.
Range cookers like these are specially adapted for stews, broths and roasts – perfect if you like your meals old school
Owning an Aga can be a joy. But when the time comes to pay your energy bill, it can be a shock. The problem with Agas is the way that they operate.
Agas work on the principle of conduction – that is heat transfer from an open flame to a hot plate. Inside the Aga, directly below the hottest hob (the one you’ll do most of your cooking), is a gas flame and a pilot light. This gas flame burns all day and all night. If it doesn’t, the Aga cools down and can no longer be used for cooking.
You might think that you could save money by igniting the flame only while you prepare dinner. But because the hot plate is so large, it takes a long time to heat back up – often several hours.
There’s no direct heat source in the ovens either. Just like the main hot plate, they too rely on being heated indirectly by conduction through the oven walls. In other words, you could be waiting several hours every night, just to cook your pizza.
There’s another downside to Agas too: no ability to vary the temperature quickly. You might have a complicated recipe which requires something to be broiled on a high heat and then baked on a low. But with an Aga, this level of flexibility is impossible. You usually have a single heat and have to stick with it.
There is good news for this type of ersatz appliances; because there are ersatz versions of Agas which keep many of the positives while getting rid of the negatives. You can get fully electric Agas in the same style as the original which adjust to your requirements just as quickly as a standard, modern fan-assisted oven. With an electric cooker masquerading as an Aga, you’re able to make any dish you like. You’re not limited to stews, casseroles and roast dinners.
Wood-Burning Fireplace Versus Fire-Effect Fire Places
Traditional homes were built with wood-burning fires. And to many, these fires are the best for snuggling up indoors and feeling warm and cosy.
But wood burning fires have a few downsides you should be aware of. The first is the fact that they produce a lot of smoke. You can minimise the problem of smoke by making sure that you have proper ventilation in your home and that the flame creates a convection current that forces all the smoke particles out of the chimney.
However, this creates additional problems, namely the fact that the chimney will eventually get completely clogged up and need to be cleaned out. Chimney sweeps might have been cheap in the Victorian era, but getting the job done today will set you back a small fortune.
There’s another problem with wood burning fires too: the wood. While all other “appliances” in your home work with the push of a button, wood burning fires don’t. They require you to either collect wood from your own premises or make regular trips to the garden centre to pick up new logs.
The good news is that there is a simple, cost-effective alternative which won’t damage your lungs, doesn’t require you to collect fuel and doesn’t cost a fortune to service: fire-effect fireplaces.
When push comes to shove, most people don’t actually want open flames in their homes – a potential health and safety hazard. But what they do want is a fire-effect to mimic the real thing.
Fortunately, ersatz appliances gas fireplaces provide just that, giving homeowners the best of both worlds, getting rid of the hassle while providing the aesthetic that people want.
Electric fires are even cheaper for those on a tight budget. And, what’s more, they can fit into small alcoves, making them extremely versatile.
Cast Iron Radiators Versus Steel Radiators
Cast iron radiators are all the rage right now. People are looking for homes with originals, and if they can’t get hold of them, then they’re buying reproductions. But when it comes to price and efficiency, are cast iron radiators worth it?
One of the biggest problems with cast iron radiators is the amount of space that they take up. Yes, they’re genuine, but they’re also something of an eye sore, especially if you don’t want to pair them with contemporary decor. Cast iron radiators often end up taking up space in homes, preventing owners from making maximum use of premiums areas – places where they’d like to put TVs, beds and wardrobes.
Furthermore, because of their thick walls, cast iron radiators take a lot longer to heat up and cool down, making them less responsive to changes in the thermostat. If you’re in an area where the temperature can fluctuate up and down quite dramatically, cast iron radiators might not be the best choice.
In conclusion, do ersatz appliances make your home less authentic? Or do they just provide a modern take on older designs, refining them in the process?