Large appliances are not the kind of thing that you’ll be buying frequently, and when you do shell out the big bucks, you want to be sure you’re getting the best unit for you, for the best price. Before you head to the store, read these tips and save yourself a bundle.
Avoid Impulse Shopping and Do Your Research
Start early, while your old appliance still works, so you have time to get the best bargain. Before leaving home, arm yourself with information so you don’t get suckered in by a pretty facade and slick sales person. Consumer Reports and online reviews can help you narrow down the field and avoid lemons.
Buy in Autumn
Like new cars, this is the time of year when manufacturers roll out the new goods, so a deal can be had on last year’s new-in-the-box model.
Buy During Holiday Sales
Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Columbus Day are known for their great sales on appliances.
Buy at Scratch and Dent Stores
A Sears outlet near us sells appliances with cosmetic blemishes for 20%-60% off of the original price, with the same manufacturer’s warranty. We bought a brand-name refrigerator here a few years back and the damage was a scuff on the side that ended up next to a wall, never seen anyway. It was brand new. Buying at the outlet store saved us 40%.
Buy a Floor Model
Often marked down to make room for a newer model, these are rarely run and are still in great condition for a steal. The author of Darwin’s Money was able to score a new $2,800 stainless steel fridge for $1050 by buying a floor model!
Check for Affiliation Discounts
Some stores give a percentage off for military members, AAA card carriers, and other memberships. Ask if the store offers such discounts.
Especially toward the end of the month if the store has a quota to meet, or if you’re paying cash, you’re likely to find that managers can negotiate a better deal for you. Don’t be shy in asking for a discount, free delivery, free removal of your old unit, or free sales tax; you never know what you could get unless you ask. Be willing to buy that day if you negotiate a deal.
Check out Craigslist
In our area, people will sell perfectly good appliances just because they’re remodeling and don’t like the look anymore. See if you can find one in good condition for a great price. While you’re at it, sell your old appliance on Craigslist. You can apply the sales price, however paltry, to the cost of the new one, and not have to worry about hauling the old one away.
Skip the Stainless
Considerably more expensive just for the finish, this is an easy spot to save. If you find a great deal on an appliance that doesn’t match the rest of your appliances, consider painting it. You can even use stainless steel paint to get the effect without the hefty price tag.
Don’t Go Overboard with Features
There are bells and whistles for every appliance, but just because they’re offered doesn’t mean you need them. Consider the features that are right for your lifestyle and don’t go overboard, adding cost along with gadgets. If you have a family of four, you probably don’t need an industrial sized washing machine; likewise, if you mostly make reservations for dinner, a professional stove may be aesthetically pleasing but not necessary.
Consider the Cost of Running the New Appliance
Compare the yellow energy ratings tags between appliances to choose the one that uses the least energy. Obviously, the lower the energy use, the lower the unit will cost to run. Replacing an early 1990’s fridge with a new Energy Star model will save $85 a year in annual electric costs.
Skip the Extended Warranty
Most experts agree that extended warranties are not a great value. Most problems occur within the manufacturers’ warranty. Save money by skipping it.
Mail in the Rebates
Some manufacturers offer mail in rebates, as does the US government. Take advantage! Offered as part of the Recovery Act, the US government is offering rebates to replace older appliances with Energy Star units. Check out your state’s rebates here.
Federal Tax Credits
If you’re replacing your HVAC or hot water heater, look into the federal tax credit for 30% of the purchase price, up to $1,500.
If your income is low, see if your state’s LIHEAP program will replace your old, energy-inefficient appliances.
Some areas have programs to help replace inefficient appliances (especially refrigerators and washers and dryers) through LIHEAP – Low-Income HomeEnergy Assistance Program. Google “LIHEAP” and your state to see if this is available in your area and if you qualify.
Measure the Doorway/Hallway/Whatever the Appliance Needs to Fit Through
And then measure again! I offer this advice from personal experience. The doors and hinges needed to be removed from both the house and the refrigerator to get our scratch-and-dent store bargain into the house. The hours and effort could have been spared had we taken a tape measurer along with us! Also, make sure it opens in the correct direction; you don’t want to be opening the fridge into a corner.
Final Tip on Saving on Large Appliances
Whatever you buy, read the instruction manual and follow the maintenance recommendations to make your purchase last as long as possible.