5 Must-Know Tips for Buying Home Appliances

While they may not do much for the charm or ambiance in your home, major appliances have a critical effect on your comfort and convenience. A new refrigerator is not nearly as exciting as a new car, but it is arguably more important in terms of making your daily life more convenient and healthy.

Maintaining and replacing appliances is a part of home ownership, so educating yourself on those topics is a smart move that will save you money in the long run.  For most homeowners, it’s good practice to learn some basics about kitchen, laundry, and HVAC equipment before the day comes when they must be replaced.

#1. Budget

You can always get a better deal if you have little time to look around. Give yourself that luxury by checking out appliance deals before you need them. Check the owner’s manual for your equipment to be aware of the expected lifespan for each appliance, and then plan to replace most of them at or before that time.

Keep in mind that there is usually some wiggle-room in appliance pricing, so don’t hesitate to haggle a bit. Base your bargaining on an understanding of the average price ranges, and you could save yourself $100 or so.

#2. Timing

Finding the best deal on the appliance you want can be a matter of timing.

The best time to buy most major appliances is during the months of September and October. During these two months, manufacturers unveil their latest models, so the previous models are discounted.

Refrigerators are the exception. Those new models are rolled out in May, so spring is the best time to shop for a refrigerator.  Another special consideration is air conditioning systems, which can be found at a discount in the winter months.

When inventory lingers into January, discounts can be even deeper, although you won’t have as many models to choose from.

Holiday weekends and the end of the month can also be good times to check appliance prices. Black Friday can be a great day to pick up a new appliance, and many merchants have sales on holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day.

#3. Options to Consider

The number of features and options available in appliances keeps growing, and sorting them out can be a little overwhelming. Count on perennial experts, like  HGTV, Bob Vila, or CNET for unbiased reviews and important details. Consumer Reports is also a fantastic resource, with lots of free information online. A subscription will get you access to a wealth of additional informative reports on topics like appliance brands most prone to need repairs.

Refrigerator

The fridge often seems like the center of the home, and there are a wide range of styles and options from which to select. Styles include top freezer, bottom freezer, French door, side-by-side, built-in, and mini.  Other important factors to consider are capacity and energy efficiency. 

Some desirable features to consider:

  • In-door ice and water
  • Door-in-door storage
  • Air purifiers/evaporators
  • Zoned temperature controls
  • Flexible shelf and drawer design

Range

A major consideration here is whether you’ll buy gas or electric. If you’re replacing your old range, you’ll save money by sticking with your existing power source. Freestanding units also tend to be more cost-effective than built-ins.

Features:

  • Control lock-out
  • Double ovens
  • Expandable stovetop elements
  • Convection option
  • Time/Delayed start

Dishwasher

Using a dishwasher can actually be more energy efficient and use less water than washing by hand. According to Energy Star, newer models use less than half the energy of hand washing, and can save up to 5000 gallons of water per year.

Dishwashers with an Energy Star designation are, on average, 12 percent more energy efficient and 30 percent more water efficient than standard models, so they can potentially save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the appliance.

Features:

  • Adjustable or extra racks
  • Soil sensors
  • Rinse and hold
  • Self-cleaning filter
  • Stainless steel tub
  • Hidden touchpad controls
  • Quiet operation

Washer       

Clothes washers are available as top or front-loading. Click the link to read what Consumer Reports says about the advantages of the different types.

Features:

  • Automatic detergent dispenser
  • Automatic temperature control
  • Extra rinse cycle
  • Stainless steel tub

Dryer

Here again, you face the choice between gas or electric models.

Features:

  • Moisture sensor
  • Auto-dry cycles
  • Extended tumble
  • End of cycle signal

Furnace

For home heating, gas is generally the most economical power source, while electric systems can be lower in initial cost.

Home heating units have seen tremendous improvement in recent years, both in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. According to Consumer Reports: “… today’s more-efficient gas furnaces can save you up to $40 for every $100 you spend on fuel compared with older models. They are also, on average, less likely to need repairs, according to our survey of subscribers, who told us about 21,132 furnaces they bought between 2008 and early 2014.”

Features:

  • Zoned heating
  • Dual air exchangers
  • Variable speed blower
  • Air filtration

Air Conditioning Units

90 percent of new homes in the U.S. are equipped with central air conditioning. Whether you’re looking at a new installation or replacing an aging unit, similar factors should be considered.

Maintenance is critical for keeping your AC running efficiently, and many installation companies offer the option to include some regular maintenance in the installation cost.

#4. Installation costs

For the average homeowner, installing major appliances is best left up to a pro, so the cost of installation, to include removing and disposing of the old unit, must be factored into cost.

A good way to save on installation costs is to use existing utility connections and locations. Stick with the current power source (usually electric or gas) to avoid expensive reconfiguration.

#5. Measure your space

When you’re replacing an existing appliance, double-check the space to ensure that the new model will fit your existing site. Remember that they have to fit in the door. Here are the most common sizes for home appliances:

  • Refrigerator –This measurement can vary depending on capacity, but the most common width is 36 inches. Be sure to allow room for the refrigerator’s doors to swing open, and for a one-inch clearance around sides and back for adequate airflow.
  • Range – Most electric and gas ranges are 30 inches wide, while some pro-style units measure 36 inches.
  • Dishwasher -Most conventional dishwashers are intended for a cavity measuring 24 by 24 inches.
  • Washer/Dryer– Most laundry appliances measure 27 inches wide, but some models with bigger capacities measure two or three inches wider.

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