Apply Research, Rebates When Buying Appliances

A major appliance is a major purchase and there are smart ways to shop to keep costs down and efficiency up.

Thoroughly research the item you are shopping for, be it a refrigerator, stove or dishwasher. The Internet is a font of information for checking prices, reading reviews, and researching features and performance. A good rule of thumb is that a large appliance should last one year for every $100 you spend on it, according to Clark.com consumer expert, Andrea Woroch.

In addition to the Internet, it’s wise to visit stores and check out appliances up close to get a good feel for them. And don’t be taken in by brand names. Testing by Consumer Reports shows that top-of-the-line brands aren’t always superior to more pedestrian names. The same goes for prices. While Best Buy, Lowe’s, Costco, and Home Depot sell the most appliances, the same products in some cases can be found for less at Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Williams-Sonoma, and Kohl’s, Consumer Reports says.

Shop pre-owned
If you are a little pressed for cash, one of the best ways to save on appliances is to buy them used. Craigslist and your local used appliance store are great places to search for a pre-owned version of your desired appliance. Make sure to research the make and model of everything you’re considering so you don’t end up paying money for a lemon. If you buy from Craigslist, you’ll also have to cover pickup, delivery, haul away, and installation, so keep those additional costs in mind when calculating the total.

Look for scratch ‘n’ dent
Buying open box or slightly imperfect appliances can save you anywhere from 10 to over 50 percent on the retail price. Most stores make their open-box inventory available exclusively in store, but Best Buy provides local inventory online where you enter your zip code to browse the selections. Ask stores if they have any scratch-and-dent options or head online to appliance discount sites like Goedeker’s for such offerings, many of which provide free shipping.

Wait for holiday sales
Appliances are one of the darlings of holiday sales promotions, so if you can, hold off until Labor Day and Black Friday for seasonal specials. Most appliances are best priced in the fall when manufacturers roll out new models, making older models a good deal. (Refrigerators are the one exception, since new inventory is introduced in June, making early spring a better time to buy.) Keep in mind, year-to-year upgrades are typically limited to style and features, so buying last year’s model will not put you at a functional disadvantage.

Negotiate
Most appliance shoppers say they don’t attempt to negotiate a better price. By not trying, they are leaving money on the table because most shoppers who try do end up getting a lower price. About 30 percent of large appliance shoppers haggled for a better price and those who succeeded ended up saving a median of $112, a Consumer Reports survey found. Only a small percentage of small appliance shoppers attempted to get a lower price and those who triumphed ended up saving a median of $37.

The most common tactic used by successful hagglers was just asking for a better price upfront, but checking out prices at other retailers and referring to them was used almost as much. Although online shoppers reported less success than in-store shoppers when they tried to haggle, they succeeded more often than not.

Consider the whole cost
The cost of an appliance isn’t limited to its price tag; you should also consider the amount of energy it uses and how much the appliance will add to your monthly gas or electric bill. It will save you money in the long run to pay more for an energy-efficient appliance instead of buying the lowest-cost option. For example, storage water heaters are less costly than tank-less water heaters but are prone to standby heat loss, which increases your gas bill. Don’t forget to ask about delivery and installation charges, as well as any fees associated with hauling away the old appliance.

Skip extended warranties
Appliances are among the high-dollar purchases that come with an extended warranty up-sell from the sales associate. The median price of an extended warranty will add an extra $118 to your bill. Extended warranties represent cash cows for retailers and are typically of little value to consumers, Woroch says. The manufacturer’s warranty is almost always sufficient and the best bet is to decline the offer and keep up with maintenance so your appliance continues to run at optimal performance during its lifetime.

Get your rebate
While the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit expired in 2013, you can still find rebates for trading in your old, worn out appliances from manufacturers on select items.  Samsung, for example, has a rebate center listing all available rebates by appliance type and location. KitchenAid lists special offers including free appliance add-ons with mail-in rebate. Stores like Sears host rebates for manufacturers as well and often advertise them along with the sale price.

Resources: Consumer Reports, Clark.com