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Home » Appliances, Frugality, Home Ownership

Shopping for New Appliances? Follow These 10 Tips

Last updated by on January 12, 2015

My wife and I recently undertook a kitchen renovation, which is still in progress. Once complete, I’ll share the story, pictures, and some numbers, but that will probably turn in to a novel. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share some advice on one component that everyone will run in to sooner or later in life: buying new appliances.

I typically use “stuff” like appliances until near-death or death (if I can’t fix it). All four of my major kitchen appliances (above-range microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, and gas range) were mostly functional, but with each being around 20 years old, they were horribly inefficient and a few were seemingly on their last breath. With remodeling the countertop, sink, and backsplash, it was time for some updates.

The first place I looked was Craigslist. I had heard Craigslist is great for finding appliances at great prices. In some regards, it is. However, if you want a newer, efficient, or stainless steel models, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you want a 20-year old, inefficient, white, dinged-up model – you will have better luck. I live in a fairly large city that is very active on Craigslist, was open to a 50-mile radius, and went back a full month on listings and found very little that fit the bill. What I did find was typically overpriced and did not match the size dimensions of the spaces the departing appliances were leaving behind.

However, I don’t want to discourage you from first fully vetting Craigslist. If your budget is limited and you don’t care about efficiency or appearance, you will be able to find some good deals.

Buying new appliances was not preferred, but I was in a great position in that I didn’t have a breakdown that would have required me to run out to the store and immediately purchase an in-stock model. Time was on my side. So I used the next month to meticulously research, observe pricing trends, and patiently find the best deals.

Some might say I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to making big purchases (and I wouldn’t disagree) – but hopefully you can benefit from this character flaw the next time you go appliance shopping. Below are the appliance shopping rules of thumb that I learned and would recommend you follow, when the time comes:

appliance shopping tips1. Lean on Reviews

A good price doesn’t always equal a good deal. Do your research online and read customer reviews. Unlike with rare Amazon product offerings, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Best Buy, and Sears all have significant amounts of customer reviews on models that have been on the market for a while. There has to be some honest ones in there. If a particular model is a lemon, it becomes painfully obvious in the reviews. Today’s well informed consumers are very hard to please, particularly on high-priced items like appliances.

2. Online Over In-Store

Simply put, online rules supreme when it comes to appliance shopping. Not only can you get better research online around reliability, specifications, and efficiency, but many retailers will offer lower prices online and you can occasionally pair those with coupon codes. Plus, you will have full access to many more (and often cheaper) models versus simply what can be fit in a store showroom, limited by space. What models make the floor space? The most profitable ones for the retailer.

3. Do your Homework on Energy Efficiency

Most retailers will allow you to sort by Energy Star qualification (applies to dishwashers and refrigerators) in their online stores. Furthermore, there are Energy Efficiency Guide links that tell you average kWh usage and cost to run the machine, annually. Try to stay below $25 for dishwashers and $40 for refrigerators in energy use per year. Here are the Energy Star refrigerator and dishwasher specifications. Ranges and microwaves DO NOT have Energy Star ratings. Outside of the kitchen, air purifiers, freezers, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, and water heaters are other appliances with Energy Star certifications.

4. Always Get Free Delivery

Most retailers will deliver for free from a local store with purchases over a particular dollar amount (commonly $399). And almost all ship to the store for free pick-up (but why bother if they will deliver for free?). DO NOT PAY FOR DELIVERY. Besides, if they’ll deliver for free, it saves you the gas and the burden of getting the difficult-to-move appliance home without damage.

5. Pass on Setup Help

You can pay to have the retailer set up the appliance for you, but that’s a shortcut to the poor house. Do it yourself, learn a few skills, grow your DIY confidence, and save the money. With all of the resources available to you on YouTube and elsewhere, there is really no good excuse not to DIY outside of being physically incapable of doing so.

6. Make Money on your Old Machine

Please, please, please do not throw your old machine in a landfill. You will always be able to find somewhere to recycle it and make some scrap metal money, at a minimum. Some retailers will pick up and recycle your old model for free or a small charge, when they deliver the new model. My utility company is currently offering $40 in rebates to pick up old refrigerators. If it is still functional, you will probably come out ahead by selling it on Craigslist. Spruce it up, take photos, and be very descriptive in what you are offering (including size dimensions).

7. Decline Automatic Add-Ons

Some retailers automatically add on items in your online shopping cart that you probably don’t need (i.e. dishwasher connect or gas line) if you are replacing an old machine. These connections have near universal compatibility, so your old ones are probably fine, if not damaged. It doesn’t hurt to try out the old and then purchase new, if needed.

8. Flexibility is Key

This might be the biggest cost saver of all. The more flexible you are around when you purchase (patience for big sales is a virtue), the delivery date (stock availability), and the model – the better price you will be able to get. Spending a few bucks to fix up your old machine so that it works until you can find a new one could result in a positive ROI. Plus, you’ll more easily be able to sell it.

9. Price Matching

Just about every appliance retailer says they “price match”, but in my experience the real-world translation is: “we will price match advertised prices from our brick-and-mortar competitors, excluding special promo codes and loyalty rewards programs”. This virtually ensures that price matching is useless, because the deals you will get online can’t be matched offline.

10. Never Ever Pay Full Price

Retailers run 10%-off promotions frequently enough that there should never be a circumstance where you should settle for paying full price. In fact, you should be able to get much higher than 10% off.

More on where to get the best deals on appliances in the next post in this series, including a minimum percentage off of retail that you should always be able to get.

What appliance shopping tips do you have to share?

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Aldo @ MDN says:

    I do almost all of these when I buy something. Reviews are key. I don’t buy anything that doesn’t have reviews; I’ve been burned before. I’m also a believer on DIY.

    I’ve learned how to repair my car, motorcycle, computer, turtle tank filter, and have also learned how to install countless things just by going to youtube. Youtube has videos on everything – if you are not comfortable following videos, there are websites that show you step by step how to do stuff. Once you’ve watched a video or read how to do it, you’ll find out that most things are very simple to do.

  • Austin says:

    I just bought appliances today. I have been holding off for a few months now, however the Memorial Day Sale is upon us and appliances have significant discounts. On top of that I enrolled with American Express to get 500k membership points (cash value $500) because I will meet their requirements by making a significant appliance purchase. Had I purchased the same appliances last month I would have spent 20% more. My patience has paid off.

  • Marty says:

    What’s the best month to buy appliances?

  • Tim says:

    I would also encourage sharing of benefits. My former employer was tied into making appliances and offered tremendous discounts to employees. Yes MAY is typically a great month to purchase. I completely up graded kitchen and laundry room in my house a few years back. The total bill was 60% off retail when it was done. Free delivery as well. But yes patience was key and research. Mine also Included 3 year service warranty, this was the icing on The cake that made me pull the trigger after watching for a while.

    Also my former employer offered friends and family discounts that you could access by sending them a link to the ordering site. Generally speaking this was 30-35% off retail pricing. The nice thing is I no longer work there, but I’m still looped in on the friends and family discounts.. So perhaps in the future I will order again.

  • Krista says:

    I went through the same thing this past weekend. Stainless ovens on craigslist way too expensive, checked all the major stores online, landed on Sears who had the best deal on what I was looking for, the Memorial Day sales started early! Got free 2-day shipping, and found an online coupon code for $30 off! Took the cord off the old range, attached it to the new one (~$25 savings). I even managed to sell the old one thru craigslist this weekend. All summed up got a brand new stainless steel range for a little over $300 without leaving the house. I will be buying a mini fridge on craigslist soon though. Some things are easier to get than others on there.

  • Greg Michael says:

    I just bought over $12,000 of appliances for a new home. I shopped the big box stores and online and then I had a local dealer who sells Maytag, Kitchenaid, Frigidaire and Amana, give me a bid. I made it known that I was “shopping” to keep him honest. Also, more importantly, I got his price for service calls. His rate was less than 1/2 the rate for the big box stores. He ended up with a price that was more than competitive and installed everything for free, including the built in cooktop & double ovens. His service is known to be excellent & I know that should any problem arise, he is not only closer than the big box stores, he will also be many less $$.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      How is it possible to spend $12k on appliances? I mean, I’m sure it CAN be done, but it has to take some effort. And why burn that much, when you could have 99% of the function/efficiency for 10% of the cost?

      • Tim says:

        $12k in appliances does add up pretty quick. I mentioned I made out with approximately 60% off.. I still paid $8k…. but yes that means I would have spent around $19K which just boggles my mind but hey I wasn’t looking at the retail price since I wasn’t paying that price either..

        • G.E. Miller says:

          I was able to get all 4, stainless, energy efficient, new, for about $1,600.
          So, yes, it does add up if you want it to. But it doesn’t need to.

          • Greg Michael says:

            I agree, you don’t have to spend $12K to get good energy efficient appliances. It was the last home we will ever live in & we decided to go a little fancier than basic stuff. Hey, we are 60 and have been saving hard & investing for the past 35 years. It was time to “let-go” a little. Basically we have been doing all the things you talk about for the last 40 years. We have lived by the saying “delayed gratification” so we could get to where we are at now. Love your blog. Keep up the great & important work. People need to hear what you’re saying.

          • G.E. Miller says:

            Well, there you go. Some context paints a much better picture. Enjoy the retirement. =)

      • Greg Michael says:

        We built a new home & had the following appliances installed: Refrigerator, drawer microwave, wine fridge, double ovens, cooktop, dishwasher, garbage disposal, upright freezer in the garage, 2nd (smaller) refrigerator for the finished basement kitchen, washer & dryer. All the kitchen appliance are stainless steel. Most appliances were either Kitchenaid or Maytag (same manufacturer). It doesn’t take long to add up to $12K and we didn’t even consider the over-the-top brands like Viking or Wolfe.

  • debt debs says:

    When our appliances broke down, we got a used fridge and an oven on Kijiji (equivalent of Craigs List in Canada but owned by Ebay) for less than $200 and $150. They were less than 5 years old so still a good few years in them. Obviously if renovating a kitchen, you would want to get new, but if you are in a pinch like we were, I think it’s a good option. Actually it’s the people who have done renos that are doing the selling.

  • John says:

    In my case, I always like upgrading my stuff when a new one comes out and have hard time getting rid of the current ones..

  • S Arun says:

    I always buy new stuff in sale price. New appliances always come with high energy efficient and excellent features. Energy efficient will reduce our electric bill, so we could save more money for long run.

  • Ron Ablang says:

    Good tips as always.

  • Silas Knight says:

    Thanks for the great tips for buying appliances. Looking at reviews is definitely a good way to find a quality product. I have never thought to check reviews in-store, so that is a great idea.


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