Category Archives: Home Appliances

How to Shop for Appliances

Nobody likes it, but everyone has to do it every once in a while – appliance shopping. Ugh. It’s a boring shopping trip, because they all look generally the same. And when you finally do decide which one you want, you drop a load of cash that you would have rather spent on something fun. But it’s not to be – the food has to stay cold (fridge) until you want it hot (oven). The clothes have to get clean (washer) and the water needs to be hot (water heater). You want to stay warm (furnace) part of the year, but cool (air conditioner) the other part of the year. These appliances are integral to our lives.
Don’t just settle on the cheapest appliance you can find though. Do a little homework, and you’ll get better value for your money, and end up with something functional that also makes you happy.
What Do You Need?
Think about what you need before you go shopping. In what way(s) does your current machine fail you? Too big? Too small? Inefficient? What feature(s) does it lack that you would actually use (would you seriously learn how to adapt recipes to a convection oven?). Think about these things. Decide what finish you want – not all models are available in every color, so this definitely helps narrow the field.

And please, measure your space! One would think that appliance sizes are standardized, but they are not. Not by a long shot. And they all look the same size in the store, and the dimensions on the tag don’t tell you much when you don’t know how big your space is, so you won’t even notice it’s the wrong size until you get it home. Then you have to deal with returns. So measure the width, height and depth of wherever you’re putting the appliance, write down those measurements, and bring the measurements shopping with you.

Do Some Research
Look at what’s available and where you have to go to get it. Sure, the big appliance store might have some great sales, but the items that aren’t on sale are no cheaper than specialty stores, though the selection is more limited. Look around online, and you’ll be amazed at what you find. Now there are glass-front refrigerators. Did you know that? And your big box store won’t have them. There are one-piece washer/dryers (they do both!), infrared ovens, solar water heaters, and a host of others. In short, there are all kinds of things that the typical discount store won’t stock.
Get a Deal
The very best time to get a great deal on appliances is a weekday toward the end of the month in either September or October (or February for refrigerators). If you can’t have all of these factors, wait for as many as you can. Weekdays are best because appliance stores are packed on the weekends and getting service from the sales staff can be difficult. You have a better chance of negotiating a deal when you can spend time asking questions and getting to know the details of the appliance. The end of the month is great because salespeople are typically looking to meet their sales quotas. They are much more likely to cut a deal if they really need the sale. September and October (or February for refrigerators) is when manufacturers ship out the new models for the year, and stores have to make room for the new stock by putting last year’s models on clearance.

You can also score some pretty good deals on holiday weekends, when appliance stores tend to have sales. But be warned – the crowd factor still applies, so if the sale price is still outside your budget, you may not be able to negotiate any lower. Look for sales online – there’s no negotiation possible, but the sale prices can still be great, and they may even have free shipping.

Narrowing Choices
Once you’re actually shopping, first narrow down the choices with your measurements. Immediately exclude anything that won’t fit, obviously, because that won’t change. Then exclude anything that doesn’t have the finish you’re looking for, unless that’s a flexible criterion for you. Now you’re down to price versus features, and you may have to give a little one way or another. A good tie-breaker is the Energy Star rating – get the best one when in doubt. The saving in utilities really add up – it’s possible to buy a washer that costs only $9.00/year to run, averaging five loads per week. These things sip water and electricity, so even if you break your budget a bit, you’ll make up the difference in the long run with energy savings.
Unless you have an unlimited budget, you probably won’t get everything you want. But if you do the homework beforehand and go shopping before your appliance breaks down, it’s possible to come pretty darn close.

Best Time to Buy Appliances

While shopping for big or small appliances, many of us want to buy them as soon as they hit the showroom floors. There are times when we require a particular item for the kitchen and it becomes inconvenient to work with the older appliance. This means, making an expense during the year which you really don’t want to. However, if it is unavoidable, this expense will be made. The stores need to make room for the new appliances and hence, keep selected last year’s models on sale. But what if September and October are far away and you wish to purchase an appliance now. You can still minimize your expenses and get a good deal year-round. How, you ask? Read the following factors that may affect your decision.

Search Internet for Affordable Deals

Always, without fail, conduct an online search. Many a time, you may or may not be aware of amazing discounts or special offers in certain departmental stores. And when you are properly informed, you can easily decide where to begin.

When you begin an online research, you can get a better perspective on the prices that are offered in the stores and on specific websites. You can browse through a wide range of variety in appliances, big and small, to make a conformed decision. Plus, you’re saving driving and browsing time at the store itself. There are many websites dedicated on marketing diverse range of prices, product quality, and selection. Although, you may be one of those shoppers who prefers a walk-in store as compared to the virtual one; however, giving online shopping a try won’t hurt. With busy lifestyles and work/home responsibilities, you can buy appliances any time of the year. Another advantage on finalizing your bargains online is, you save on browsing time at the store, get a better price deal, and you can pick up the appliance(s) from the store to save on their shipping fees.

Look for Promotions/Trials

Another way to begin your search or further help reduce the price is to look for promotions and advertisements in local newspapers and departmental stores. Many retailers have promotions on certain appliances all year around, which you can cash in on. Keeping such promos in mind, you can hold off on the purchase till the stores come up with the bargain prices.

Without the promos, it is very difficult to find the best deals. You don’t want to end up paying extra for things you can buy in lesser amounts. While you’re searching for your desired item(s), you can sign up for e-mail alerts and keep newspaper advertisements for updates. If you have a particular manufacturer that you like and trust regarding certain appliances, then you can also sign up for mail-in rebates from their websites. Special promotions in holiday months can save you hundreds of dollars in making your purchases. Keep printouts of good deals and coupons to avail low-price offers. Trust me, you will get so used to this technique that doing shopping any other way will feel out of place.

Exchange Your Old Appliance

While understanding when to purchase appliances, you should keep the independent retailers in mind as well. With big showrooms and retail giants, narrow aisles and long lines on the checkout stands can become a frustrating way to make your purchases.

And when it’s the holiday season, then you’ve got more than money to think about. Instead of all that hassle, why not eliminate all of that and go through a different route. Many a time, independent retailers offer better deals on smaller appliances and also provide good customer satisfaction/service. And if you do find a good deal at the major stores, try shopping on weekdays and early mornings during weekends so that you won’t have to wait in long lines (avoid the crowd). Try to avoid unnecessary addition, monetary or otherwise, to your appliance shopping. You are not only trying to cut down on your expenses here; you are trying to make the most of it.

Take Warranties Only When Required

How long do you think any appliance can last; 1 year… 2 years… 5? Many appliances don’t necessarily break or get damaged within the warranty period promised by the retailers. But some retailers have made it a point to intimidate or scare the shoppers in believing that they need the extended warranty. So you pay an average of US $150 for that extended warranty or service contract which is actually not necessary.

Now I am not saying that don’t look into the whole warranty program. My point here is, understand when you do require a warranty on the appliances and when you can do without them. While shopping, don’t completely rely on the salespeople. They may be good at what they do, but believing them 100% can mean you paying a whole lot more. Also, the salesperson sometimes doesn’t even make the terms and conditions clear for the shoppers to make a conformed decision. So why not just stick with the warranty that already comes with purchasing those appliances and not pay extra (where you don’t necessarily require).

After understanding and reviewing all the factors, you can very well determine when is the best time. Think before you shop. Don’t fall for the hidden costs and don’t just jump on the first option you get. Expand your search. And while you are thinking of making a new purchase, it will be before the older appliances stop functioning. If you make the mistake of waiting too long, you will end up paying more than you should due of desperation. One more tiny factor in buying any new appliances, keep an eye for energy-saving appliances. This way, you will end up using less energy and your monthly savings will increase.

Choose an Appliance Repair Service

Getting a non-functioning appliance fixed can be a big chore. Ask someone who has come home after nine, ten, or twelve hours of work, to a washing machine that just won’t start. As the clichéd adage goes: been there done that! I can say from experience that a broken appliance is a big time peace-of-mind sucker.

But the appliance just cannot sit there, it has to work, so we have to do the inevitable; calling an appliance repair service. Therefore, allow me to give you a quick list of to-dos while choosing the right appliance repairing service in your area.

Ask for Referrals

Start the search for a good appliance repair service by asking your friends and family about ‘referrals’. People in your neighborhood could also help you with the phone number of a local appliance repair service. If somebody is recommending a specific appliance repair service, it means that they have already used it once, and are satisfied with the service they provide. Therefore, you can rest assured that you will also get good service.

Search Through Various Sources

If you do not get any substantial results by word-of-mouth inquiry, start searching through other sources, such as Yellow Pages, classified ads in local newspapers, and on the Internet.

Call and Inform Them about…

The Type of Appliance
Once you find a phone number, give them a call and tell them about the type of appliance that needs repairing. It should not be assumed that anyone who fixes appliances will fix all types of appliances. A washer repairing technician may not be well versed with the nuances of repairing an air conditioner.

Model or Brand of the Appliance
The next step is to inform them about the model or the brand of your appliance. Sometimes, it may happen that the service company may not have spare parts for the specific brand you own. Most of the time, you will get an affirmative answer, but in case you don’t, it is better to move on and call another company.

Inquire about…

The Duration they Have Been in Business
If you get an affirmative answer, inquire how long they have been in business under the same name, and in the same location. You should politely and diplomatically pose this question. One more question to ask is if they are insured, and if they possess the state license for operating an appliance repairing service. The insurance should be current, and the license should be valid.

Details of the Technician
If you get a positive response, inquire about the technicians. Start by asking them if they regularly train their technicians. Also, ask if the technicians are required to pass drug, alcohol, and other background tests and checks, and if the technicians are required to wear uniforms that can identify the name of the company. Always ask the name of the technician that they will be sending. You should also find out if it is possible to talk to the visiting technician about the problem before he pays a visit.

Tell Them the Exact Problem

Try to speak to the executive or the technician about the type of problem you are facing. Tell them the exact scenario in detail. For example, if you have kept your central heating off in summer, and want it to get switched on in autumn, it is possible that it may not start properly. In such a case, you have to tell them the exact details of what is happening. Like, if the radiator is not warming up, or if there is a funny noise coming from the boiler. In response, you will get a few possibilities that might have occurred, and also the estimated price for the repair work. If they don’t answer, you might want to think twice about contracting them for the job.

Tip!
Do hesitate to ask these questions. From a customer’s point of view, it is necessary to be sure before you let anybody in your house. Just keep in mind that while inquiring on the telephone, you should keep the tone of your speech inquisitive and not aggressive.

Compare Prices

If you get a feeling that the price that they have quoted is too high, do not book them. Assure them that you will call back and confirm. Check and compare the prices with other similar appliance repair services. It may happen that some appliance service companies are very popular. They apply extensive marketing gimmicks, like advertising, etc., to make themselves visible, and then try to get the money back by charging higher fees to the customers. Beware of such services. I won’t say that they would provide bad service, but only that they would charge an exorbitant amount for it.

Lastly, in case you find that the service was slow, and the company took a long time to respond to your call, do not opt for them next time. They are not concerned about your well-being and safety, because electrical appliances need to be fixed immediately, or they can cause serious damage to your house.

Replacing Appliances Can Save You Money

Home appliances are big ticket items, no doubt about it. And when one breaks down, shelling out the cash for an emergency replacement hurts, and can potentially throw your finances out of whack for months. So, being reluctant to replace what ain’t broken is understandable.

The thing is, replacing your appliances can actually help you come out ahead in the long run, as long as you plan ahead and shop carefully. It’s important to replace strategically, though – if the fridge is only five years old and in good shape, it’s probably fine. Prioritize the 10-year-old air conditioner first. If a newer appliance has required unusually frequent repairs, though, you may want to consider just being done with it and getting a new one.

Efficiency

The biggest advantage is energy efficiency. Not just for the environment, but for your energy bill as well. As technology advances, appliances use less and less energy and water than their predecessors, and the savings can make a big difference in your cash flow. If you buy Energy Star certified appliances, those savings can be quite substantial. Almost half of your energy bill comes from heating and cooling your home. Replacing an old heating/cooling system can take a serious chunk out of your monthly expenses. Newer washers, dryers and dishwashers are designed to run on as little water and electricity as possible – some newer Energy Star washers may use as little as $9 of electricity per year.

As a bonus, many states offer tax rebates to residents who replace old appliances with Energy Star models. Check your state’s listing on the Energy Star website to see which brands and models are approved. They may seem more expensive at first, but the rebates can offset the purchase price substantially.

Size

If you’re using the appliances that came with your house, you may be wasting money running a machine that’s way bigger than you need. Refrigerators, ovens, washers, dryers, dishwashers and heating/cooling units all come in a variety of sizes. Obviously, the larger the machine, the less efficient it is. If there’s only one or two of you, consider downsizing your kitchen and laundry appliances. You’ll save energy and water, and you’ll free up space, too. The only exception to this is the heating/cooling unit, where larger models may be more efficient than smaller models because they don’t need to run as long.

Home Salability

If you’re thinking of selling your home, the question of replacing your appliances becomes even more pertinent. New appliances won’t necessarily add value to your home, but old or worn-out appliances can certainly detract from it. And even though new appliances won’t get you a higher selling price, they do add to your home’s salability. For example – your house is competing with a similar house down the street, both with similar prices. If your house boasts a beautiful kitchen with brand new appliances and a new central air, it looks to the buyer like they’ll get more for their money. New appliances are shiny and impressive, and the energy efficiency is a major selling point.

When buyers look at a house with older appliances, they mentally tack on the price of replacing them. Sometimes, they’ll ask for an appliance allowance when they make an offer. That allowance is usually more than what you would pay, were you to replace them yourself, but if you don’t accept it, they won’t buy. Skip the negotiation and just replace them before you ever put it on the market.