While dozens of states just started their “Cash for Appliances
” programs and more will launch in May, Angie’s List cautions homeowners to do some quick math before they dash out and try to win a portion of the $300 million available nationwide.
Some states that offered their programs earlier this year ran out of rebate money almost immediately. The program offers rebates of $50 to $200 per qualifying appliance.
“This is a great program for people who need to upgrade their appliances, but it might not be a smart spending decision for all of us,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. Angie’s List is the nation's premiere provider of consumer reviews on local service companies, including companies that specialize in repairing refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, washers, water heaters and air conditioners.
“Unless your appliance is midway through its useful life and repair will cost more than half the price of a new appliance, repair is more cost-effective,” Hicks said.
The life expectancy of refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and water heaters is about 10-15 years. Central air-conditioning units should operate efficiently for 15-20 years.
“New appliances cost hundreds or thousands of dollars,” Hicks said. “The average price of a service call is $60-$100 before parts and labor. Many companies will deduct their call charge from the total bill if you hire them for the job.”
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?
Preventative maintenance is your best bet for prolonging the life of your appliances. Angie suggests following these tips:
- Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator annually and check door seals to ensure they are airtight.
- Check air filters monthly and replace as needed.
- Replace washer fill hoses every five years.
- Avoid overloading the washing machine.
- Have the exhaust duct on the clothes dryer inspected and cleaned once a year. Clean the lint filter before each use.
- Don’t allow heavy grease buildup on the oven interior.
- Drain a quart of water from your water heater tank every three months to remove sediment that slows down heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater.
- Have regular service as recommended by the manufacturer
Angie’s List collects consumer reviews on local contractors and doctors in more than 500 service categories. Currently, more than 1 million consumers across the U.S. and Canada rely on Angie’s List to help them make the best hiring decisions. Members get unlimited access to local ratings via Internet or phone, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine and help from the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Take a quick tour of Angie’s List and view the latest Angie’s List news.