Is your appliance a clunker or a keeper?
Repair or replace my appliance?
Is it really broken?
Check the unit's instruction manual for the most common problems and solutions.
How old is the appliance?
Consider the additional features a new appliance might offer.
Have you had trouble with the unit before?
If it's performed well, it might be worth fixing instead of replacing.
How much will it cost to repair the unit?
Determine if the tax credits available will offset the cost of a new appliance.
What energy savings will you get with the new appliance?
Figure that into the cost of a new appliance.
by Angie Hicks | founder of Angie's List
Before you rush out and scrap your old, avocado green refrigerator for a shiny new one under the federal "Cash for Appliances" program that should be in full swing by early next year, it would first be prudent to evaluate the state of your existing appliances.
Under the program, consumers will receive a rebate between $50 and $200 per new Energy Star-approved appliance purchased, in return for getting rid of old energy-consuming appliances.
But you might be better off getting your older appliances repaired — or even refinish those worn out colors — rather than buying new. You can find highly rated appliance repair and refinishing services on the List to help you make them last.
The first thing to consider is the age factor and the cost of repair (if needed). The average price of a service call is between $60 and $100 before parts and labor, and many companies will deduct their call charge from the total bill if you hire them to make the needed repairs.
If a repair will cost more than half the cost of the new appliance and the unit is more than six or seven years old, you're probably better off replacing it.
That's when the Cash for Appliances program could really benefit those in need of an upgrade. In addition to the program's rebate, some states and local utility districts are offering rebates for purchases of energy efficient appliances, leading to even more savings.
According to a recent online poll of Angie's List members, 18 percent of you said you planned to buy an appliance under the program.
Unlike the "Cash for Clunkers" vehicle rebate program, you aren't required to trade in your old appliances, though the Department of Energy has encouraged states to come up with plans to recycle old appliances. Check with your state's energy office for more details on this and all the available rebates.
I understand the program is designed to help spur economic growth, create jobs, make homes more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But part of being environmentally friendly is to use products as long as possible, so we're not filling up landfills with unnecessary waste.
So, if your appliance is worth fixing and you can get several more years out of it, repair might be your best bet.