So many people have been looking forward to replacing their appliances with new ones using the government’s appliance rebate program, but a new appliance may not be your wisest choice according to Angie Hicks of angieslist.com.
Under the new program, consumers will receive a rebate – expected to be between $50-$200 per appliance – in return for getting rid of old energy-consuming appliances and purchasing new appliances certified as energy efficient by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.
“A good rule of thumb to determine if you should repair or replace an appliance is to look at the age factor and the cost of repair,” Hicks said. “The average price of a service call is between $60-100 before parts and labor. Many companies will deduct their call charge from the total bill if you hire them to make the needed repairs. However, if a repair will cost more than half the cost of the new appliance and the unit is more than six or seven years old, you’re probably better off replacing it.”
That’s when the Cash for Appliances program could really benefit those in need of an upgrade. In addition to the Cash for Appliances rebate, some states and local utility districts already offer rebates for purchases of energy efficient appliance, leading to even more savings.
States have the flexibility to select which appliances to include in their programs and the individual rebate amount for each appliance, however, the Department of Energy recommends that states and territories focus on heating and cooling equipment, appliances, and water heaters, which offer the greatest energy savings potential. States had until Oct. 15 to present the DOE with a plan for how they want to implement their respective programs. The rebates were to go into effect in late November.
The distribution formula for the $300 million program is about $1 for every resident in a given state. California, for example, would receive about $35 million to allocate to the program, while Wyoming would receive about $500,000. Unlike the popular “Cash for Clunkers” vehicle rebate program, consumers will not be required to trade in their old appliances. The DOE, however, is encouraging states to develop recycling plans in their proposals.
“This program is designed to help spur economic growth, create jobs, make homes more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Hicks said. “Part of being environmentally friendly is to use products as long as possible, so we’re not filling up landfills with unnecessary waste. So, if your appliance is worth fixing and you can get several more years out of it, repair might be the way to go.”
Angie’s 10 questions to ask to determine whether to replace or repair an appliance:
Is it really broken? The trouble may be a short in the plug, a tripped circuit breaker, or a bad surge-protector outlet. Check the troubleshooting section of the unit’s instruction manual for the most common problems and solutions.
How old is the appliance?
Have you had trouble with the unit before? If it’s performed well, it might be worth fixing instead of replacing with something unproven.
How much will it cost to repair the unit?
What would a similar appliance cost?
Are there any hidden costs to purchase (removal, installation, disposal, tax, etc.)?
How difficult is it to replace the appliance (Is it a built-in)?
What additional features will I get with the new appliance?
What energy savings will I get with the new appliance? Will they offset the cost of a new appliance vs. repair?
What tax credits are available for purchasing an energy efficient unit? Will they offset the cost of a new appliance vs. repair?
Angie’s List went to the experts for their estimates on the average life of major appliances:
10-15 years for refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers.
10-20 years for ovens, ranges, and water heaters.
15-20 years for central air-conditioning unit