Unlike most other big-ticket transactions, a lot can go wrong with appliance
purchases. Many local stores, particularly the big chains, were rated quite
low for the advice provided by their salespeople. And according to the
ratings we get from local consumers, the problems persist, with frequent
delivery delays and improper and sloppy installation work. Fortunately,
several area retailers do well by their customers the vast majority of
You dont have to pay more to get good service. High-rated stores were
just as likely to quote low prices as their low-rated competitors. And
dont assume youll get low prices by buying from the big chains or even
online: We often found lower prices elsewhere.
Although we dont find as much store-to-store price variation for appliances
as in most other service fields, considerable savings are possible. For
example, the highest price we were quoted by local retailers for a Samsung
RF4287HARS refrigerator in stainless steel was $3,287; the lowest price
was $2,349a tidy savings of $938. For an Electrolux EIMGD55IIW gas clothes
dryer in white, the range was $967 to $1,460, a difference of $493. To
see the range of prices you can expect when shopping around, see this table.
And shop around you should. It is easy to obtain price quotes from salespersons
at appliance stores, although to get the best prices you should call or
email and at least mention that youre shopping prices at several stores.
To make sure you get the best possible price, initiate a competitive bidding
process. Dont assume sale prices are good prices.
When comparing prices, take into account fees for delivery, hauling away
old appliances, and installation. If you know your install will be complicated
or unusual, hire a top-rated plumber for the job.
Pay by credit card. If you have a problem, you can protest the charge with
your card issuer.
Skip the extended warranties pushed by most stores. These offers are great
deals for the stores that sell them, but awful deals for the customers
who buy them.
Our article on appliance repair discusses why you might want to repair
rather than replace an old appliance, even if a guide that relies on average
lifespan data suggests otherwise. Aside from practical cost-benefit considerations,
there are other important reasons for hanging on to old gadgets: Finding
the right appliance, buying it, and getting it delivered and installed
without hassles can be a time-consuming, aggravating experience. Too many
appliance stores too often fall down on the job, as evidenced by the ratings
and comments we receive from their customers. Some examples:
- Purchased $7,000 worth of Electrolux appliances for my new kitchen. Every single appliance has failed or was delivered damaged. The manufacturer wants me to talk to...the owner, but the staff will not let me.
- Hard to find someone to answer questionswhen we did find someone, all they could do was read the brochure to usthey knew less than we did.
- I honestly cant believe this company is still in business... I have, in three appliance purchases, never yet once had them deliver without a problem: fridge door on the wrong side, failed to show for delivery or call, refused to honor warranty.
- Installed clothes-washer hose incorrectly and left the machine running. Water was everywhere and they were long gone.
- Horrible delivery service. Wrecked two appliances and damaged our house.
- They gave a nice runaround for months, then went bankrupt and, of course, never delivered. The experience was a nightmare.
Fortunately, some area stores almost always serve their customers well,
dispensing excellent advice on product selection, providing seamless delivery
and installation services, standing behind their products, and making things
right when things go wrong. And you dont necessarily have to pay more
to get this kind of treatment.
The article that follows will guide you to good sources of buying advice,
identify stores that will handle the delivery and installation without
putting you on spin cycle, and provide strategies for getting the best
We wont offer advice on appliance brands and models and their almost endless
array of features. A few excellent sources provide that type of buying
Consumer Reports regularly evaluates appliances on a range of quality
issues, including reliability, and offers sage advice on the pros and cons
of configuration, options, and features.
The U.S. Department of Energys Energy Star program (www.energystar.gov)
provides lists and energy-usage data on certified appliances (our discussion
of choosing appliances based on energy-cost savings is here).
Salespeople can also be fantastic sources of buying advicebut only at
stores that employ knowledgeable, helpful staff. Unfortunately, as our
Ratings Tables report, this is an aspect of service for which many
storesparticularly big chainsrated low on our surveys of consumers. (Our
surveys of area consumerswho are primarily CHECKBOOK and Consumer Reports
subscribersand other research methods are described here.)
At the time of our last full, published report, Costco was rated superior
for advice by only 19 percent of its surveyed customers; Frys Electronics
by only 26 percent; Home Depot by 34 percent; Best Buy by 35 percent; Sears
by 45 percent; Orchard Supply by 47 percent; and Lowes by 48 percent.
But several local stores whose personnel offer fantastic buying advice:
these stores were rated superior for advice by at least 80 percent of
their surveyed customers.
Finding a store that provides helpful advice is only half the battle. You
also want a store that makes sure the entire transaction, from selection
to delivery and install, is seamless.
Unlike buying most other big-ticket items, a lot can go wrong with appliance
purchases. If your fancy new camera doesnt work, you can just take it
back and get a replacement. But you cant easily tote your new defective
refrigerator back to the store, and most consumers need help with delivery
and installation. Unfortunately, the comments we receive from surveyed
appliance-buying customers indicate that the most serious problems with
appliance purchases occur on the delivery and installation side. Delivery
crews too often damage floors and doorways, and workers too often cause
water damage and even floods by improperly installing dishwashers and clothes
washers. Screw-ups in the installation of gas appliances are common and
Fortunately, some area stores do have competent installers. And aside from
relying on a stores employeesor, more commonly, its subcontractorsfor
installation, you have other options for getting the work done.
If you need to buy appliances as part of a remodeling job, your contractor
can (and probably should) arrange for delivery and perform the installation
work. If your contractor is responsible for these tasks, you can hold accountable
a single company for making sure appliances arrive on time, get delivered
without damaging your home, fit the allotted space, are installed correctly,
and work properly. This arrangement lets you and your contractor focus
on getting the best price (see below), rather than worrying about what
kind of service the store will provide.
Another option is to do the installation work yourself. While some stores
fold installation costs into their listed appliance prices or into their
delivery fees, most charge extra for it. And even stores that charge a
single package price normally offer a discount if they dont do the install.
If youre thinking about going it alone, be aware that for some types of
appliances theres very little to do: After youve wrestled in a several-hundred-pound
refrigerator, its easy to plug it in and connect the icemaker water-supply
line. But installing a dishwasher can be fairly complicated, even if youre
reasonably handy. And although it requires no great technical skill to
hook up a gas line to a replacement appliance, you can create a big-time
hazard if you dont do it right.
Most consumers do opt to pay appliance stores to take care of delivery
and installation. If you go this route, make sure you understand exactly
what they will and wont do. Some stores wont touch gas lines; others
also wont hook up water supply or discharge lines, meaning youll have
to hire a plumber to perform those tasks.
If you arent relying on a remodeling contractor to handle your appliance
purchase and install, we believe youre better off finding a store that
employs reliable installers and have it do the installation, rather than
separately hiring a plumber to do the job. That way, you get to deal with
a single company responsible for providing the appliance, delivering it,
installing it, and hauling away your old unit. You save time (you wont
have to wait around for a store to deliver and then again for a plumber
to show up), and if something goes wrong, you wont have to referee a store-plumber
dispute over who screwed up.
The ratings reported on our Ratings Tables for our survey questions
on promptness, reliability, and overall quality will help you identify
stores that deliver on time and make things right if theres a problem.
You want sound buying advice, careful and prompt delivery, and a trouble-free
installbut you dont want to pay a steep price for them. Fortunately,
you dont have to. We find that high-rated stores often quote prices as
low as, or lower than, the prices of their low-rated competitors.
To compare prices, our researchers, without revealing their affiliation
with CHECKBOOK, called area retailers for price quotes for 25 appliance
models. (Our shoppers obtained prices from store websites, where possible.)
We used these prices to calculate the price index scores reported on our
Ratings Tables. These scores show how each retailers prices compare
to the average price for all surveyed companies. The scores are adjusted
so that the average price index score is $100. Prices for a retailer with
a score of $105, then, were five percent higher than the average; prices
for a retailer with a score of $97 were three percent lower than the average.
Note that we included stores quoted fees to deliver and install each appliance
we shopped, to haul away an old appliance, and for any needed parts or
installation kits. If a store told our shoppers it does not provide installation
services for the type of appliance we shopped, we added our estimate of
the average price charged by reasonably priced local plumbers to do the
|Electrolux EIFLS55IIW clothes washer in white||$899||$1,019||$1,284||$1,029||$1,230|| ||$899||$979||$979|
|Electrolux EIMGD55IIW gas clothes dryer in white||$967||$1,134||$1,460||$1,129||$1,460|| ||$967||$1,099||$1,134|
|Frigidaire FFEF3019MB electric range in black||$617||$706||$914||$688||$630|| ||$719|| || |
|Frigidaire FFHS2622MB refrigerator in black||$899||$1,037||$1,179||$897||$987|| ||$899|| || |
|Frigidaire FGBD2445NB dishwasher in black||$409||$609||$714||$560||$550|| ||$579||$633||$622|
|GE GFSS6KKYSS refrigerator in stainless steel||$1,788||$2,019||$2,387||$1,667||$2,137||$1,899||$2,299|| ||$2,387|
|GE GLD5808VBB dishwasher in black||$548||$651||$728||$579||$670||$548||$579||$728||$672|
|GE GSHF6NGBBB refrigerator in black||$1,149||$1,328||$1,525||$1,120|| ||$1,284||$1,259||$1,379|| |
|GE JB850DTBB electric range in black||$1,090||$1,238||$1,413||$1,108||$1,260||$1,196||$1,169||$1,413||$1,401|
|GE JGB810SETSS gas range in stainless steel||$1,123||$1,285||$1,527||$1,159||$1,527||$1,123||$1,319||$1,315||$1,44|
|GE PDWT280VSS dishwasher in stainless steel||$874||$991||$1,149||$903||$1,120||$923|| ||$1,062||$1,122|
|LG DLGX5171W gas clothes dryer in white||$986||$1,107||$1,184||$1,119||$1,184|| || ||$1,035|| |
|LG LDF6920ST dishwasher in stainless steel||$751||$909||$1,020||$820||$1,020||$751|| ||$918||$930|
|LG LFX31925ST refrigerator in stainless steel||$2,600||$2,883||$3,237||$2,438||$3,237||$2,600|| ||$2,960||$2,960|
|LG LRG3095ST gas range in stainless steel||$1,355||$1,488||$1,677||$1,398||$1,677||$1,394|| ||$1,505||$1,615|
|Maytag MGD6000XW gas clothes dryer in white||$998||$1,185||$1,335||$1,129|| ||$1,148||$1,187||$1,162||$1,335|
|Maytag MHW6000XW clothes washer in white||$971||$1,093||$1,224||$1,104|| ||$1,008||$971||$1,100||$1,100|
|Samsung DMT800RHS dishwasher in stainless steel||$824||$950||$1,072||$864||$1,070|| ||$1,029||$970||$1,072|
|Samsung FX710BGS gas range in stainless steel||$1,290||$1,466||$1,677||$1,281||$1,677|| ||$1,519||$1,505||$1,595|
|Samsung RF4287HARS refrigerator in stainless steel||$2,349||$2,874||$3,287||$2,103||$3,237|| ||$3,199||$3,280||$3,287|
|Whirlpool ED5LHAXWB refrigerator in black||$949||$1,141||$1,379||$988||$1,167|| ||$1,079|| || |
|Whirlpool GGE388LXB electric range in black||$999||$1,159||$1,367||$1,108||$1,215|| ||$1,124||$1,238||$1,351|
|Whirlpool WDT710PAYB dishwasher in black||$570||$641||$728||$574||$670|| ||$579||$728||$672|
|Whirlpool WFW94HEXW clothes washer in white||$989||$1,097||$1,224||$1,020||$1,020|| ||$989||$1,100||$1,180|
|Whirlpool WGD94HEXW gas clothes dryer in white||$998||$1,171||$1,335||$1,140||$1,271|| ||$1,187||$1,162||$1,335|
1 Some prices rounded to the nearest whole dollar. Refrigerator prices include icemakers. All prices include delivery, haul-away of old appliance, installation, and required parts for installation. If a store told our shoppers it does not provide installation services for the type of appliance we shopped, we added our estimate of the average price charged by reasonably priced local plumbers to do the work. See article text for additional details on how our shoppers collected these prices.|
The table above lists the lowest and highest prices quoted by local stores
for each appliance model (again, including costs for delivery, haul-away,
and installation) and the prices of the largest chains. We also list the
lowest price we could find using Googles shopping bot (plus estimated
charges for installation).
Here is a rundown of what we found:
Although there is relatively little price competition for appliances, shopping
around is still worth your time.
The price index scores reported on our Ratings Tables range from $92
to $109, which indicates far less variation among stores average prices
than we find for other types of local service providers we cover.
But, the table above reveals, when looking at price differences for individual
models, considerable savings are available. For example, the highest price
we were quoted by local retailers for a Samsung RF4287HARS refrigerator
in stainless steel was $3,287; the lowest price was $2,349a tidy savings
of $938. For a Whirlpool GGE388LXB electric range in black, prices ranged
from $999 to $1,367, a difference of $368. And for an Electrolux EIMGD55IIW
gas clothes dryer in white, the range was $967 to $1,460, a difference
Because it is easy to obtain price quotes from salespersons at appliance
stores and company websites, most consumers will find it worth their time
to make four or five phone calls to save several hundred dollars. And if
you are replacing all the appliances in your kitchen, its well worth the
time to shop around.
You dont have to pay more for superior service.
Begin your shopping with stores that receive high scores in our surveys
of area consumers. For each appliance model we priced, we received at least
one low price quote from top-rated stores. In fact, stores that rate high
on service were as likely to quote low prices as were stores that rate
low for service.
Googles shopping bot usually found low prices, but it didnt always find
the best deals. Dont assume online retailers always are less expensive
than local stores.
The price index scores shown on the table below show how the prices for
the appliance models we shopped (plus delivery fees and our estimate of
installation costs) at five online-only retailers compare to average prices
quoted by local retailers.
|Abe’s of Maine||$102|
|Best price found using Google Shopping||$91|
|Best price found using PriceGrabber||$95|
|1See text for description of our price index score and research methods. Price index scores shown are relative to average prices found at local stores. When calculating prices for online stores, we included delivery costs, parts needed for installation, and our estimate of the average price charged by reasonably priced local plumbers to do the installation work.|
Googles shopping bot, with a price index score of $91, consistently
provided low prices. PriceGrabbers and USAppliances prices were
slightly below average. But the two other online-only retailers we shoppedAbes of Maine and Abthad higher-than-average prices. (When shopping Google
and PriceGrabber, we recorded the lowest price quoted by sellers that had
received at least 100 ratings and achieved overall scores of at least four
out of five stars.)
Although the price index score for Google is the among the lowest of all
the retailers we checked, when shopping prices for individual models, we
usually found better dealssometimes much better dealsat local retailers.
Even if you dont want to buy online, make sure youre paying a low price
by checking the prices at local stores against prices from sellers listed
with Google. However, dont bother checking prices at Amazon.com. Our shoppers
attempted to use Amazon to shop for appliances, but gave up in frustration
after sifting through page after page of separate listings for the same
If youre considering an online appliance purchase, see Pitfalls of
Buying Appliances Online below for additional advice.
The big chains dont necessarily offer the lowest prices.
Among local stores and chains, Home Depots price index score ($92) is
the lowestbut just barely. Three independent retailersDavies Appliance,
Friedmans Appliance, and Standards of Excellenceachieved price index scores
of $93. Lowes prices ($97 price index score) were just slightly lower
than average. Orchard Supply ($103), Best Buy ($107), and Sears ($108)
all quoted higher-than-average prices.
Call or email stores to get price quotes.
A bad-for-consumers policy of appliance manufacturers (and manufacturers
of many other big-ticket items) is the use of minimum advertised prices,
or MAP. Designed to boost profits for large retailers by squelching price
competition, these policies require retailers to advertise product prices
at or above preset minimums. Because of MAP, you wont obtain the best
prices on most major brands of appliances from sales circulars and websites.
But MAP policies dont apply to prices quoted to customers in person, over
the phone, or via email, and storesparticularly independent storesoften
quote appliance prices less than MAP if they know thats what it takes
to close a deal.
When calling or emailing stores, mention that youre contacting multiple
stores for price quotes. The best strategy is to initiate a competitive
The only way to get the lowest possible price is to make salespersons offer
their best prices up front. And that happens only if they know you will
buy elsewhere for a better price. At independent stores, our shoppers found
that informing sales staff that they were getting price quotes from multiple
stores often spurred discounts on the price of the appliance, waivers of
delivery and installation fees, or both. Getting big chains to be flexible
took considerably more effort, but when our shoppers waited and waited
and waited on hold to speak with appliance department sales managers they
sometimes secured better deals.
Our view is that the best approach is to solicit competitive bids. To do
this, call four or five of the retailers listed on our Ratings Tables
(you may as well start with ones high-rated for quality) and ask to speak
to someone with authority to provide discounted pricing. Give that person
the makes and model numbers of the appliances you want, explain that you
are calling multiple companies to solicit bids, make it clear that you
will call each store only once to get its best priceand will buy from
the store that offers the best deal.
Dont be shy about using this method. Be polite, businesslike, and let
stores know that you get competitive bids whenever you make major purchases.
Most salespeople are accustomed to providing competitive bids; its the
way many contractors make purchases.
As we stress below, if you need delivery and installation services, make
sure you nail down stores prices for that work along with their prices
for the appliances.
If the store with the lowest bid isnt the one you prefer, because of convenience
or service quality, call the store you prefer and ask it to match the low
Dont assume sale prices are low prices.
Appliance stores are notorious for hiking prices prior to a planned sale,
steeply discounting the inflated prices during the sale, and afterward
lowering the inflated regular prices back to pre-sale levels. The lesson?
Dont assume a sale price is a great price until youve compared it to
prices at other stores.
When comparing prices, take into account fees for delivery, haul-away,
Some stores include fees for delivery, hauling away old appliances, and
installation in the price of the appliance; some charge a flat fee for
delivery and installation; and some charge separate fees for each service.
Some retailers charge a lot extra for these services, quickly turning a
seemingly good deal into a not-so-good deal.
To avoid add-on-fee surprises, ask for separate prices for each of the
services you need. That way youll know whether it might cost less to have
a plumber do the work. And mention if you dont need delivery or installation,
so the store can adjust its prices accordingly.
Consider what the store will and wont do when installing appliances.
Some appliance stores have employees (or, more commonly, subcontractors)
who can perform any type of appliance installation, but some companies
wont install dishwashers, and many wont connect appliances to gas lines.
Some delivery personnel wont do anything but move appliances into place
and plug them in.
If you buy from a store that doesnt provide full installation services,
and you arent comfortable with doing it yourself or with the help of a
friend, youll have to hire a plumber or appliance repair service. Most
reasonably priced plumbers charge around $100 to $150 to hook up clothes
washers or gas stoves, and $125 to $175 to install dishwashers. When comparing
appliance prices, be sure to take these expenses into account.
Many consumers prefer to deal with stores that offer complete installation
services, and with good reason. Our view is that its better to have a
single vendor responsible for making sure the appliance arrives in good
condition and is properly installed. If something goes wrong, this arrangement
eliminates disputes between store and plumber over who is at fault.
If you know your install will be difficult or unusual, hire a trusted plumber
to do the work.
Some installations are complicated. To replace dishwashers, countertops
may have to be removed. If youre replacing an electric appliance with
a gas model, or vice-versa, gas lines must be run or removed. If you are
replacing very old appliances, you may need to install new pipe and connections.
In such cases, hire a plumber to handle the job.
Ask about installation kits.
Extra parts must be purchased to install many appliances. When shopping
for the appliance, ask stores for their prices for any additional parts
needed for installation (often called installation kits). Note that our
shoppers often found it difficult to obtain accurate price information
for installation kits from major chain stores, especially when shopping
If a contractor is handling your appliance purchases, make sure you are
getting a good deal.
When pricing remodeling jobs, general contractors usually work out an appliance
budget with their customers, and then use that budget to select models
to purchase and install. We have no problem with this type of arrangement,
but check prices yourself to make sure you cant do significantly better.
If you do find opportunities for significant savings, ask the contractor
to buy from the low-priced retailerand adjust your contract price accordingly.
If your contractor purchases appliances for you, keep in mind that some
stores offer contractor discounts, which some contractors simply pocket.
Thats finecontractors are entitled to compensation for arranging these
purchasesas long as thats the arrangement youve made with the contractor.
As discussed above, buying appliances online doesnt always produce significant
savings, particularly when you factor in installation costs. Along with
a possible lack of a price advantage, buying appliances online presents
several other disadvantages:
Longer delivery times. Even though it might take several days for local
stores to order and deliver appliances, many can deliver faster than online
Rejecting defective products might be more difficult when dealing with
out-of-town Web-based retailers. Delivery personnel for online stores likely
arent trained to spot problems, and probably wont be able to seek a remedy
directly from the retailer. If you dont discover a problem until after
youve accepted delivery, it might be difficult to arrange for pickup of
the defective product and delivery of a replacement. Worse, if you dont
discover a problem until youve hired someone to install the appliance,
youll have to pay the plumber a second time to come out to install the
Similarly, if an independent freight carrier has delivered the shipment
and an item arrives damaged, you wont know whether the carrier caused
the damage or if it happened before the carrier received the item. If neither
the store nor the delivery company accepts responsibility, youll have
to try to force one or the other to make amends.
If, in a worst-case scenario, you must go to court, youll probably have
to file the lawsuit inand possibly travel tothe location of the Web-based
If despite these disadvantages you buy online, here are a few suggestions
Check appliances for visible damage before you accept delivery. If you
spot a problem, reject delivery and contact the seller to demand a refund
Pay by credit card. If there is a problem, you can dispute the transaction
with your credit card issuer.
Check retailers online reviews. Although we have concerns over the reliability
of the ratings posted for online stores on Google and other comparison-pricing
websites, with this much money at stake some information is better than
none. Limit candidates to sellers that have received overwhelmingly positive
reviews from at least 100 customers.
As when buying from local stores, make sure you ask about, and order, any
extra parts or installation kits youll need.
If youre a regular CHECKBOOK reader, you already know where we stand on extended warranties (also referred to as protection plans).
The key point we make again and again is that extended warranties are insurance
policies. But unlike auto, homeowners, health, or life insurance, they
insure against relatively small lossespotential repair or replacement
costsand pay out in claims only a small portion of what they take in.
Most new appliances are very reliable, and those that do break down are
likely to do so right away, while still covered by the manufacturers warranty.
Extended warranties are a good deal for the stores that sell them and the
companies that administer them and pay the claimsbut a bad deal for you.
On average, more than half the price of extended warranties goes to the
retailers that sell them, much of the rest stays with the companies that
back and administer them, and less than 20 cents of every dollar taken
in actually gets paid out in claims.
Since stores make so little on the sales of appliances themselves, its
hardly surprising that appliance buyers almost have to fight their way
out of the store to avoid buying an extended warranty. Many retailers that
sell them count on the sales of extended warranties for mostor even allof
If you are still thinking about buying an extended warranty, shop around.
You dont have to purchase an extended warranty at the time you buy the
appliance, nor do you have to buy it from the store that sold you the appliance.
And keep in mind that many credit cards double the length of manufacturers
warranties when you charge the purchase.
No matter where you buy your appliance, the following tips will help you avoid the most common appliance-buying pitfalls:
Get all terms in writing. You should receive an invoice or contract that
lists the stores name, address, and phone number; salespersons name;
your name and address; appliance brand and model numbers; price for each
appliance; prices for delivery, hauling away old appliances, and installation,
including a detailed description of what work the stores installers will
do; deposit paid; terms for refunds and exchanges; and expected delivery
Avoid leaving a large deposit. Its reasonable for a store to require a
small upfront deposit as compensation in case you cancel the order. But
putting up a large deposit deprives you of a lot of leverage for making
sure all goes as planned.
Pay by credit card. If you have a problem, you can protest the charge with
your credit card issuer.
Measure. Twice. Dont wait until your new appliances show up to find that
they wont fit through any of your doors, up a stairwell, or in the allotted
Check right away for visible defects. Reject delivery of appliances that
arrive with scratches, dents, and other damage. If the problem is limited
to cosmetic damage and you need a working appliance while you wait for
a defect-free replacement, call the store manager and ask if you can keep
the damaged unit while you wait for a replacement. If a replacement model
is to be provided, get the terms of the arrangement in writingincluding
expected delivery datebefore the stores installers leave.
After installation, check that appliances work. Before the installers leave,
make sure burners burn, the oven bakes and broils, the fridge cools, the
icemaker makes ice, the washer washes, and the dryer dries. Check carefully
for water leaks. If anything is amiss, demand a replacement or remedy.
If you notice a problem after the stores installers leave, inform the
store as soon as possible, and push them to provide a replacement unit,
rather than the hassle of seeking repairs under the manufacturers warranty.
Check that washing machines are level. Its a detail some delivery personnel
dont bother to do well. An improperly leveled clothes washer can have
a shorter operating life and, worse, cause a flood if the unit pulls too
far away from water supply or drainage hoses. The best way to check is
to throw in a blanket or a few towels to create a slightly unbalanced load,
start the washer and let it fill about halfway with water to get the load
wet, and then switch it to its spin cycle. If it does a two-step across
the floor, it needs to be re-leveled.
Check gas appliances for leaks. Ask store installers to show you how they
test for leaks, and then watch them do it. Even if you dont know how to
check to make sure the work is done right, the installers wont know you
Confirm that anti-tipping devices for ovens are installed. This precaution
is especially important if you have small children.
Replace flimsy hoses with more reliable options. The rubber water-supply
hoses that typically come with clothes washers and dishwashers can fail.
Replace them with stainless steel hoseseither when the appliance is installed
or the next time you need repairs or plumbing work. Its an easy job you
can do yourself. Also, if your refrigerators icemaker uses a rubber or
plastic water-supply line, replace it with a copper variety.
Read the instruction manual. You never know, you might learn something
Be sure to use proper cleaning equipment and supplies. You dont want to
ruin your new stainless steel finish, create an inferno by improperly using
oven cleaner, or scratch the surface of your supposedly unscratchable range.
The question is no longer Is your refrigerator running? but rather, How
much energy is it using?
Old appliances, particularly refrigerators and freezers, suck so much power
off the grid that one state, New Jersey, actually offers residents $50
apiece to trade in their old refrigerators and freezers. Many utility companies
periodically offer rebates to customers who purchase Energy Star-certified
appliances. For a short time in 2010, as part of a federal plan, California
offered similar rebates to consumers who replaced older, inefficient appliances
with new models that met Energy Star standards. But the funds allocated
for the rebate program were quickly exhausted.
From a pragmatic, money-saving perspective, the expense of exchanging old
appliances for new ones often is not covered by the energy savings you
get. If you replace an old, inefficient clothes washer with an Energy Star-certified
model, you might save $40 to $50 per year in energy and water savingswhich
means a new model that cost $750 would have to be used a long time for
the utility bill savings to cover its cost. Energy Star-certified dishwashers
tend to cost only about $10 to $20 a year less for energy and water than
non-certified models. But if your current refrigerator was manufactured
more than 15 years ago, investing in a new model makes sense. According
to Energy Star estimates, here are the annual energy savings from upgrading
a top-freezer-model refrigerator to a new certified unit:
Made before 1980.......$277
If your existing appliance needs repairs, on the other hand, determine
the cost of replacement minus expected energy savings versus the cost of
the repair. Calculations on the Energy Star website (www.energystar.gov)
let you compare annual operating costs of efficient and inefficient appliances
according to how much you use them, how long you expect the new unit to
Of course, some consumers might want to switch to energy-efficient appliances
in order to minimize the amount of energy their homes use and their contribution
The following tips from Energy Star will minimize electricity usage, regardless
of your refrigerators age:
- Set the temperature of your refrigerator at 35°F and freezer at 0°F.
- If possible, situate your refrigerator in a cool place, away from your
oven, dishwasher, and sunlight.
- To allow air circulation, leave a two- or three-inch space between the
back of your refrigerator and the wall.
- Make sure to maintain an airtight seal when you close refrigerator and freezer doors. When seals wear out, replace them.
Unfortunately, because none of the appliances Costco sells are sold at
other local stores, we werent able to compare its prices. But we single
it out because our experience is that Costcos prices tend to be among
the lowest for items it does carry.
If youre thinking about buying appliances from Costco, keep a few important
points in mind:
Selection is very limited. When we checked, Costco was selling only 18
refrigerator models, seven dishwasher models, and five ranges, while other
retailers offer many more models on display and hundreds of choices via
special order. And some of the models available at Costco were made by
manufacturers you might not recognize.
Costcos sales staff might not be able to help you make decisions. Its
surveyed customers gave it poor marks for advice.