Is your appliance a clunker or a keeper?

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.


In recently speaking to an appliance salesperson, I was informed that the new "energy star" refrigerators are made with a much smaller condenser that has to work harder to keep things cold therefore burning out faster than the older model condensers do. In agreement with the comment made by the appliance tech John Humphreys, the salesperson told me I'd have to replace my new refrigerator every few years. If you get one with storage-friendly French doors and efficient bottom freezer, you're looking at over $1,000 every few years! That would certainly eat into your savings on the energy usage.

Hello I am an appliance Tech for the last 35 years. There are appliances that I would not buy or take if they were free. The problem with energy savings is this, In six years you will have to throw out your new Appliances, and then rebuy again. This never ends because a lot of NEW appliances are made to throw away. You saved money on the electricity on some models and now you have to spend a lot more on replacements. Don't Forget Manufacturers want to Manufacture at any cost to YOU!

This article misses the point -- the part of the "Cash for Appliances" program that offers rebates for Energy Star appliances is intended specifically to save customers money on reduced utility bills when they ditch old, inefficient appliances. The prototypical "avocado refrigerator" you mention costs more than $200/year in electric use (on most utility rates.) An Energy Star replacement refrigerator would use about $40 of electricity/year. Even if it still works, it's so inefficient that it needs to go off the grid.

When will your site be available for Kings county California?

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