July 29, 2014

Ten Money Saving Tips – Read This Before You Buy

Here are some handy tips to consider if you really want to save money on your next appliance purchase:

1. Buy Last Year’s Model
If you don’t mind owning last year’s model, you can shave hundreds of dollars off of your appliance purchase. Best time to shop: September and October when stores are under pressure to clear space for the new arrivals.

2. Shop the Scratch and Dents
A small scratch or dent could become your best friend if you’re on a tight budget. Ask the sales associate if they have any damaged appliances for sale. Then, survey the damaged models to decide what you are willing to live with – even the smallest blemish can net big savings.

3. Buy What You Need
Have you ever noticed how the most expensive appliance models are typically the first that you come to in the store? No coincidence, I assure you. To keep yourself from falling for the latest bells and whistles, make a list of what you need before you venture into the stores. Then, buy the cheapest model that meets those needs. Just remember: that refrigerator with the built-in TV isn’t going to keep your food any colder.

4. Do a Trade-In
It’s no secret that trading in your car can save you money on a new car purchase, but did you know that you can sometimes do the same thing with your appliances? Check with appliance dealers in your area to see if any accept trade-ins. Then, find out how much your current appliance is worth. It could just be your ticket to a bargain.

5. Shop the Sales
Find something you like, but not thrilled with the price? Ask a sales associate when your pick is scheduled to go on sale. Waiting a week or two could be all it takes to reduce your purchase price by 25%. September and October are the best months to make major purchases but the second-best time is during the holidays. Merchants offer deep discounts at Christmas, when consumers want to spiff up their homes for the holidays. Also keep an eye out for sales on the less-celebrated weekends, like Memorial Day, Mother’s Day and Labor Day.

6. Look for a Package Deal
Need a washer and dryer or all new appliances for your kitchen? If so, an appliance package could be your biggest source of savings. Retailers frequently bundle appliances to boost sales, and these packages can offer significant savings over the price of purchasing each item individually.

7. Buy a Floor Model
Do you mind if your new appliance comes without a box? If not, consider purchasing a floor model. You’ll enjoy the same warranty that you’d get with a new-in-box item, without the new-in-box price. Sacrifice a little cardboard and save a lot.


8. Shop Box Stores

Shopping warehouse and box stores can be hit or miss. Sometimes you get a great deal and other times you may pay more. When it comes to appliances, however, you may be surprised at the bargains you can find. Such stores don’t usually honor price matches so what you see is what you get. Before hitting these cut-rate stores, research prices and quality online.

9. Avoid Rentals
It’s tempting to pay just $20 a week for a new refrigerator, but the interest you’ll pay for a rent-to-own appliance means you end up paying much more than the purchase price. These retailers thrive on consumers who pay the minimum amount each month or end up reneging on payments and losing the appliance.

10. Surf Craigslist
Keep an eye on the appliances section for low prices on brand new appliances. Dealers sometimes advertise their overstocks on Craigslist. Look for “dealer” notations to know if you’re working with a store and not a private seller. Realtors and remodeling contractors also offer new or nearly new appliances. You’ll likely have to manage your own delivery and installation, however.

Credit to about.com and couponshepa.com

Should You Buy a New Refrigerator?

You can find good information about appliances in large and small news outlets. I recently found a clear, simple explanation in the Cape Cod Times of why it could be worthwhile to replace a refrigerator even if it seems to be running perfectly.

Thanks to updates to federal energy appliance standards, all of today’s major home appliances do use much less energy. If you’ve got a product you use often like a refrigerator, washing machine or other major home appliance that is 10 to 15 years old or more, you’ll probably offset the purchase price of a new one by saving enough money on its energy use in the coming years.

I know it might not seem to make a lot of sense, especially in today’s economy, to replace a major appliance that seems to be working well just because it’s old. But this could cut monthly utility bills substantially.

Just like the purchase price of a new car is actually what you pay the dealer to buy it, pay the mechanic over time to maintain it, and pay the gas station over time to fuel it, appliances also need to be viewed as having the same types of actual costs.

A new refrigerator, for example, that carries the government’s ENERGY STAR designation showing that it greatly exceeds current minimum standards will probably save $1,000 or more over its lifetime compared to an older model.

The yellow EnergyGuide labels that come with major appliances show the estimated annual energy consumption of the model and other information regarding its energy efficiency. They also show where the appliance fits into the range of energy consumption of comparable products.

Most new appliances probably will last for many years, and energy-efficient models will continue to pay you back with lower energy costs over their lifetimes.

Check out the ENERGY STAR Web site that gives information on special offers, sales tax exemptions or credits, rebates and other discounts on energy-efficient products in your area at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction rebate.rebate—locator.

You also ought to look around your home to see how many products you’ve got plugged into electrical outlets. About 20 percent of the average family’s utility bill goes toward powering these home appliances. It’ll help you appreciate the importance of buying efficient products.

One shopping tip that can help save money is to buy only the features you need. If you figure a certain-sized refrigerator is best for your family, don’t be tempted to get a bigger one. Will you use the through-the-door water dispenser or the ice maker? If so, they can be great features. If not, they add not only to the purchase price but to the unit’s energy use as well.

The bottom line is simple. When buying an appliance for your home, keep in mind that the cost of the energy to operate it over its lifetime will very likely be more than you’re paying for it. Purchasing an energy-efficient model makes a lot of sense.

Refrigerator Shopping Guide

Be sure you get the refrigerator you need – one that will serve your household well for years. Ask yourself these questions before you set out to buy a new fridge.

What configuration of refrigerator do I want?

There are three types to choose from. The most popular model is the two-door, top-freezer design which offers a wide range of models and tremendous storage versatility. Side-by-side models have doors opening in the center, generally have more storage capacity, and offer easy access for people in wheelchairs. Bottom-freezer units put the fresh food at eye level, and the freezer below for those who don’t use it frequently.

How much space do I have for a refrigerator?

Refrigerators vary in size and in the clearance space they require. Measure the height, width and depth of the space for your refrigerator, and take the dimensions with you shopping. Most models are 30-36″ wide. Depth is important to avoid purchasing a model that extends into the kitchen, blocking traffic flow or a doorway.

What size refrigerator do I need?

Capacity ranges between nine and 30 cubic feet. The average household refrigerator in 1992 was 20 cubic feet and is getting larger. As a rule of thumb, a family of two needs eight to 10 cubic feet of fresh food space in a refrigerator. Add an extra cubic foot for each additional family member. Refrigerators can last 10 to 15 years or more, so remember to plan for expansion or contraction of your family.

How much freezer space do I need?

As a rule of thumb, a family of two needs 4 cubic feet of freezer space. Add two more cubic feet for each additional person. Freezer needs vary widely, so increase the freezer space if you buy a lot of frozen products. Top and bottom mounted freezers offer the most storage flexibility. Side-by-side models may offer more storage space, but sometimes have difficulty holding a pizza, a turkey or other large items.

What features are important to me?

Features vary across refrigerators. Use catalogs, flyers and the Internet to identify the two or three features that are most important to you. Popular features include adjustable glass shelves, large adjustable door bins, and spacious crispers.

Do I want an ice maker?

Ice makers are a popular, convenient feature for your freezer. Some models already have ice makers built into the freezer. For other models, ice maker kits are widely available and can be quickly installed.

Do I want an ice and water dispenser in the door?

Through-the-door ice and water dispensers offer easy access to cubed or crushed ice and chilled water. They are especially useful for children or people who are frequently getting ice from the freezer.

What color do I want?
White and almond are the most popular colors. Black is offered for a limited selection. Trim kits and decorative panels are available for some models. Also remember that panels matching the cabinets can be used to create a custom look for your refrigerator in your kitchen.

Ask these questions when you are in the store to help you quickly and confidently identify refrigerators that meet your needs:

How flexible is the storage space in this refrigerator?
Look for adjustable shelving in the refrigerator and freezer which makes food storage much easier. Check how much storage space is available in the door and if the door shelves are adjustable. Consider whether this refrigerator can store the kinds of groceries that you buy — will it hold your milk cartons, vegetables, apple pies?

Is this refrigerator easy to use?
Check to see if you can reach products at the back of shelves — pull-out shelves can be particularly useful. Look for clear drawers and shelves so that you can quickly see everything. Make sure you can easily reach the temperature controls. Does the door swing open the right way? If not, ask the salesperson if it can be changed.

Is this refrigerator easy to clean?
Glass shelves may be spill-proof to reduce the amount of cleaning necessary. See if the shelves can be pulled out to be easily cleaned in the sink. Some models have adjustable rollers on the bottom of the cabinet, so it’s easy to pull out the whole refrigerator and clean behind.

How energy efficient is this refrigerator?

Check the bright yellow Energy Guide label attached to the refrigerator. Look at the kWh per year and use that to compare the energy efficiency of different models — make sure the models you are comparing are the same size, as larger models do use more energy than smaller ones.

How quiet is this refrigerator?

Refrigerator technology has changed over the years, so your new refrigerator will probably not sound like your old one. Ask the salesperson if they can turn refrigerators on to hear the sounds of different models. Remember that the noise will be quieter in your tiled or carpeted kitchen compared to the large, cement sales floor.

How reliable is this brand of refrigerators?
Consult consumer magazines to hear how other people rank the performance of different brands. Try calling the manufacturer’s 1-800 number and ask for information about their service reliability.

What is the warranty on this refrigerator?

Most refrigerators come with a one-year warranty on everything and a five-year warranty on the sealed system. Ask the salesperson for the warranty terms on the refrigerator. Look for quick, convenient in-home service rather than pickup and delivery warranty service.

What are the delivery and installation terms on this refrigerator?

Ask the salesperson for delivery and installation details. Will they take away your old refrigerator? Will they install the water line to the ice maker?

Good luck and enjoy your new refrigerator!

Size is Important When Buying a Refrigerator

One of the benefits of replacing an older refrigerator with a new one is knowing that you will be saving energy using the new model.

Jame Duley at the Columbus Dispatch writes:

The energy savings from a more efficient compressor and insulation should pay back the cost of a new model over its lifetime. My refrigerator is about 16 years old. We had a power outage, and my food warmed within eight hours and had to be trashed. My neighbor has a new model, and the insulation kept food in his refrigerator safely below 40 degrees for the same time period.

When selecting a new refrigerator, the size is the most important factor affecting its electricity usage. Select as small a model as will meet your requirements. You can base the size requirements on your existing refrigerator size and how full it typically is, not on the few holiday occasions when you’re making dinner for your extended family.

Don’t buy one that will be consistently too small and then perhaps plan to buy another small backup or keep your old one running in the basement or garage. This will use much more electricity than just buying a larger one initially. Features such as split shelves and pullout shelves that crank up and down can increase the usable interior space with a smaller size.

Models with the freezer on top are most energy-efficient because the cool air naturally drops from the freezer to cool the refrigerator section. Top-freezer models also tend to have the most interior space for a given exterior size, so they’re ideal if your space is limited.

You can figure on about 80 percent of advertised interior volume as actual usable space.