April 17, 2014

Paying for Your Next New Appliance

Household appliances are generally so reliable, having one break down takes us by surprise. The hassle of shopping for a new appliance is trouble enough without worrying about paying for it too. Plan ahead, because the dryer is not going to sound out announcements before it conks-out.

Repair or Replace?

The first decision to be made is if you really need a new appliance, or if repairs are in order. If the repair costs half the price of a new appliance, seriously consider buying new, says Mark Kotkin at Consumer Reports. According to the magazine’s research, any major household appliance more than eight years old should be considered for replacement rather than repair. The magazine also suggest you skip the repair and buy new if your appliance costs less than $150.

Budgeting

“I’ve seen a lot of people’s budgets over the years, and it seems like household maintenance is one category that people miss,” says Matt Bell of MattAboutMoney.com. People who know the age of their appliances and their expected life spans can budget better for replacements. Or they could maintain a more general emergency fund for when bad things happen. Either cash stash will help you avoid finance charges on a credit card you can’t pay off right away, said Bell.

Home Warranty

A home warranty is a service contract for an existing home that covers major operating systems, such as a furnace or a dishwasher. The homeowner buys a repair contract, often for $300 to $500 a year, and pays a service charge for each call. If many of your major appliances are near the ends of their useful lives, a home warranty might be worthwhile. But warranties are complicated, covering some types of breakdowns and not others. Pre-existing conditions and malfunctions that stem from poor maintenance or installation can be excluded. Some companies will cover all or part of an appliance’s replacement cost. Choose this option carefully.

How to Save Money Buying a New Appliance

Buying a new appliance is expensive and everyone wants to get a good value for their money.  Sometimes getting less can be more.  According to Consumer Reports, some of the extra features offered on new washers and dishwashers are not needed and just add unnecessarily to the final cost.

Take new dishwasher cycles with names like “turbo zone” and “power scour.” For those, special nozzles are placed in the back of the dishwasher to take care of tough jobs.

Although those cycles do a good job, Consumer Reports testers say they are not essential.

“We find many dishwashers, using just the regular setting, do a great job cleaning our very tough challenge: baked-on brownie mix,” Consumer Reports tester Kim Kleman said.

You can also save by skipping the often-pricier stainless steel tubs and get a plastic tub in your dishwasher.

“People love the stainless steel look, but how many people are looking inside your dishwasher?” Kleman said. “The plastic tub should hold up just fine.”

Many washing-machine models come loaded with lots of extra features – such as cycles made specifically for bedding, active wear and sanitizing. Consumer Reports, though, says you should take a pass on those options.

“Stick with the regular heavy-duty, normal, delicate and white cycles. That’s all you really need,” Kleman said.

As for dryers, don’t be wowed by claims like extra-large capacity, super capacity and king-sized capacity.

“We find most dryers hold plenty, whether it says super capacity or not,” Kleman said.

Although matching washer-dryer sets look nice, they can cost more.

If you’re buying them at the same time, Consumer Reports recommends getting the best-performing, most efficient washer – one that extracts the most water from clothes.

Among dryers, get the one that has a moisture sensor.

Consumer Reports ranked its Best Buys among dishwashers, washers and dryers:

  • Dishwasher: Sears’ Kenmore 1374 for $650.
  • Washer: Frigidaire Gallery GLTF2940F for $650.
  • Dryers: GE DBVH512EF[WW] for $650; GE DPSE810EG[WT] for $500.

Keep to this strategy: Don’t pay for features you don’t need.