Need to replace a refrigerator, a washer, a hot water heater, or another appliance in your home? Sorry to hear that: that’s almost always an extra expense that we hadn’t included in the budget. Because we depend on these machines for necessary functions in our homes, it’s tempting to rush out and buy the first thing that seems to meet our immediate needs while not wiping out the bank account. But taking just a little time to do some research, and considering your longer term plans for your home and family may not only save you some time and money down the line, but also lighten your environmental impact.
When it’s time to purchase new appliances, take a deep breath, and get ready to dig into the wealth of information available to you. Here are a few specifics you’ll want to keep in mind:
1. Make Sure Your Information is Current: You may think you know plenty about air conditioners, or clothes dryers, or dishwashers… but when’s the last time you really dug into the information about a particular class of appliances? It was probably when you purchased the item you’re now replacing, and it’s likely the facts you remember are out of date. Products get redesigned, technologies get upgraded, and concepts become commercially available products. Publications like Consumer Reports do a very nice job of updating reports on particular products, so look for the most recent edition.
2. Make Sure Your Choice is “Right-Sized” to Your Lifestyle: Got a large family? Try to focus your diet on fresh fruits and vegetables? Buy foodstuffs in bulk? That cheap washing machine, refrigerator, or freezer may create more work or stress for you. Make sure that the appliance you choose will work for your lifestyle. An LG™ WT1101CW washer, for instance, may save you time because you’re doing fewer loads of laundry.
3. Check the Energy and Water Efficiency Ratings: A “cheap” appliance isn’t really so cheap if you end up spending more on electricity, gas, and/or water. Fortunately, checking for energy and water efficiency is pretty easy these days: look for the ENERGY STAR or Water Sense labels on the home appliances you purchase.
4. Research a Product’s Durability: There’s nothing more frustrating than having to replace a major appliance right after the warranty expires (or shortly thereafter). No, products don’t last as long as they once did, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy a new dryer every few years. Spend some time on Amazon or other sites that feature customer reviews. Look for patterns rather than single bad reviews. Also consider the simplest technology that will meet your needs: less moving parts and gizmos means less to malfunction or break.
5. Ask about Recycling/Take-Back Options: Any appliance you buy will eventually outlive its usefulness, so think about it’s end-of-life when you purchase it. Does the manufacturer offer product take-back or recycling? What about the retailer? If you really want to make a difference with your purchase, support businesses that take responsibility for their products’ full life cycles.
An appliance breaking down is stressful; thinking about the long-term with your new purchase will minimize that stress in the future. If you’ve got other suggestions for considerations a buyer needs to make shopping for home appliances, do share…
This post was generously sponsored by Canadian Appliance