It's worth taking the time to choose major appliances carefully. Most households rely on appliances to do housework, and it's costly and inconvenient to make the wrong choice. Here's how to make the right choice and get the most for your money.
1. Check your space. Whether you're looking for a refrigerator, microwave, or clothes washer, check the space you have for it first. Measure in all directions and have the size limits written down before you go looking at appliances. Don't bother evaluating anything that won't fit.
2. Determine your budget. If you know ahead of time that you'll be replacing an appliance (such as if you're replacing it for style or because it is starting to fail), you may also wish to check prices ahead of time and start saving up towards a replacement.
- Remember, no matter what appliance you're getting, there are usually basic options that cost less and costly options with more features.
- A higher price does not always mean higher quality. If you're on a budget, try for a good, mid-range model that will work well and last a long time.
3. Read reviews. It's very easy to find online reviews on just about any product these days, and for appliances, it's certainly worth reading a few for the model(s) you think you want. If a brand or model has a lot of problems, you'll know it.
- Don't forget Consumer Reports. They regularly test things like major appliances. It's worth seeing what they thought of various models, too.
4. Choose a style, color, and finish. This may be more important if you need something to match other appliances in your kitchen. In your garage or laundry room, it might not matter too much.
- Expect to have major appliances for a while. Generally, choose a neutral
color that will still look good (whether or not it's still current and
in fashion) in ten years or more.
5. Choose an appliance that will be cleanable. Look for a finish that will help to hide fingerprints, unless wiping the surface of your fridge is your favorite hobby. Look for small or enclosed spaces that might be hard to clean, and if something needs to come apart to be cleaned, try taking it apart.
- Don't forget buttons, knobs, and controls. Some appliances have nice, flat panels that can be cleaned in one wipe; others require a lot of disassembly to get at spills down underneath knobs
6. Choose the features you want, and be realistic about it. It's very easy to spend a lot of money for features you'll use twice and forget about. If you're buying a refrigerator, it's to keep your food cold. Maybe the ice maker is important to you, too, but does it really need a digital temperature control on the front? Most people only set the temperature in a refrigerator once, unless something changes.
7. Check the energy ratings for your appliance. Over the life of an appliance, a little bit more energy used can add up to a lot of money. This is the extended cost of your appliance purchase.
- If this is an upgrade, see if your local utility or anyone else is offering rebates for upgrading to a more energy-efficient model.
8. Shop around and negotiate. If you know what make(s)
and model(s) you want, it can be well worth calling around. If you're
not a great negotiator, simply ask, "What is the best price you can
offer?" and ask various stores. Don't forget to look online, too.