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17 Tips to Save Money Buying Large Appliances

Large home appliances are not cheap.

According to Homewyse, homeowners should expect to pay anywhere from about $650 to $1,400 for a new, nondiscounted washing machine. Factor in the cost of installing the new machine and disposing of the old one, and you’re looking at an all-in cost of about $730 to $1,600.

High-end kitchen appliances can cost even more. Angie’s List recommends budgeting anywhere from $900 to $8,000 to buy a new refrigerator, depending on size, type, and features. Heating and cooling equipment is pricey too. Purchasing and installing a new gas furnace can cost anywhere from about $2,600 to $6,300, according to HomeAdvisor.

How much can you do to get a better price on your next large appliance purchase? Actually, quite a lot. Consider this your cheat sheet for reducing the budgetary impact of upgrading your kitchen, laundry closet, or utility room.

How to Save Money on Large Appliance Purchases

Getting the best price on a new appliance is a matter of planning, timing, research, and old-fashioned negotiation.

Using a price-comparison tool like Capital One Shopping doesn’t hurt either. Nor does knowing when to say no to add-ons like service contracts and professional installation. And these are just some of the ways to save money on your next big-ticket domestic purchase.

1. Know the Best Time of Year to Buy

When is the best time of year to buy large appliances? It depends on the type of appliance. Refrigerators, freezers (including stand-alone chest freezers), and laundry machines price well in May and June (on either side of Memorial Day). Ovens and ranges, dishwashers, water heaters, and furnaces are most affordable in September and October (beginning around Labor Day). In cold climates, window air conditioners are super-cheap in January and February (if they’re available at all).

Why such variation? When the answer isn’t self-evident, as it is with air conditioners in four-season climates, model-year turnover is the most likely culprit. Retailers cut prices on last year’s appliances to make room for this year’s bigger, better, shinier models, which they can sell at a premium.

2. Establish a Separate Savings Account

In the era of easy online banking, it takes little effort to set up a new savings account for specific purchases or expense categories.

My wife and I have a separate savings account at CIT Bank for home repairs, maintenance, and big-ticket purchases. In the past few years, we’ve built a patio, financed a major repair to our radiant heating system, fixed a serious plumbing problem, and absorbed an unexpected air conditioner purchase — all without dipping into our long-term savings.

We set up automatic recurring deposits to fund our high-yield savings account. If you’re looking for something even more hands-off, look into an automated savings app like Acorn.

3. Survey Appliance Repair Shop Inventory

The market for pre-owned appliances isn’t nearly as robust as the markets for refurbished electronics or used cars, in large part because consumers’ tastes in appliances don’t change as quickly as tastes in autos or electronics. But it’s possible to find deeply discounted, gently used appliances.

Reputable repair shops are the best source of reliable appliances that have plenty of mileage left. However, use caution with downscale shops advertising too-good-to-be-true deals.

4. Haggle Over In-Store Pricing

I’m a very reluctant haggler. But driving a hard bargain is worth the awkwardness. At traditional retailers that still adhere to the commissioned sales model, haggling is particularly effective toward the end of the month, when associates are scrambling to meet sales quotas. Don’t sleep on a counteroffer, though. A polite but firm counter is frequently worth 5% to 10% off the sticker price.

5. Use Incognito Mode & Multiple Browsers to Search for Online Deals

When buying or researching appliances online, visit the same websites and enter the same search terms using multiple browsers. It may sound odd, but your browser choice can affect which deals you see, according to MarketMotive.

Your identity can do the same, as merchants and their ad partners use your digital signature to target you with specific promotions they think will tempt you. But these aren’t guaranteed to be the best available deals. For that reason, it’s essential to conduct parallel searches in regular and incognito mode (also called private browsing) if your browser has one.

If you find a great deal, complete the purchase using the browser or mode through which you first found it. Adding an item to your cart and walking away for a few days sometimes triggers a special offer (usually delivered by email) that can further reduce the advertised price, though this strategy may not work for incognito-mode shopping and isn’t guaranteed to happen anyway.

6. Choose Your Model & Options Before Visiting the Store

If you plan to do your initial research online but buy in-store, zero in on the exact appliance you want to take home. Having a firm idea of the model and features you want is the surest way to avoid getting talked into upgrades or unnecessary bells and whistles. Remember, when you buy in-store, you’re doing the sales team a favor. They know you can just as easily buy online.

7. Take Advantage of Price Matching

National retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, and Home Depot offer price-match guarantees on broad swaths of products in inventory, including major appliances. These guarantees’ fine-print terms vary, and significant exclusions (such as clearance sales) are customary, but they can be extremely lucrative if you’re able to take advantage.

8. Utilize Store Rebates

To move inventory faster, some retailers offer generous in-house rebates on specific items in inventory and types of merchandise. These are separate from manufacturer rebates and utility and government rebates or tax credits for energy-efficient appliances, which may not apply to every appliance model made by a particular manufacturer. (Refer to energystar.gov for details about current rebate and tax credit offers.)

It’s not unheard-of to find storewide rebates either. I’ve personally saved hundreds by shopping during regional home improvement retailer Menards’ periodic storewide 11% rebate windows. Many rebate offers are digitized at this point, but don’t be surprised if you need to jump through some mail-in hoops (and if so, wait a few weeks to receive your rebate check or voucher).

9. Weigh Warranty Options Carefully

Most new appliances come with manufacturers’ warranties covering specific repair and replacement costs for a limited period just after you purchase the appliance. Manufacturers’ warranties don’t cost anything extra, so you don’t need to give much thought to them — though you should read the fine print carefully before making a claim.

Service contracts, sometimes called extended warranties, are another matter. Your appliance retailer is almost sure to try to sell you a service contract, which isn’t always worth the cost. Before buying, find out:

  • What the service contract covers (and what it doesn’t)
  • The likelihood the appliance will require covered repairs during the coverage period
  • The length of the coverage period
  • How the claims process works (and how easy it is to make a claim)

Don’t go for a service contract simply because you feel you should. The coverage may expire before anything goes wrong with the appliance. After that, you must pay out of pocket for repairs or rely on a goal-oriented savings account.

10. Look for 0% APR Financing Options (or Use a Low-APR Credit Card)

Many appliance retailers offer 0% annual percentage rate (APR) financing options for qualified buyers. As long as you’re confident you can pay off the financed balance during the 0% APR period, it’s a win-win situation that builds your credit while dramatically reducing the upfront cost of your purchase.

If your retailer isn’t running a 0% APR financing promotion, you can apply for a low-APR credit card with a 0% APR introductory deal on purchases. The top low-APR credit cards’ 0% APR periods run 18 months or longer. Spread over 18 months, a $1,000 appliance purchase costs less than $56 per month.

11. Sell or Trade In Your Old Appliance

If you’re replacing a working appliance, you can trade it in to get a lower price and reduce your final cost or sell it separately to a private party. There are plenty of reputable, high-volume places to do so online: Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and consumer-to-consumer resale sites like OfferUp.

12. Look for Liquidation Events

Liquidation sales are the gold standard for large appliance discounts. When traditional retailers close stores or go out of business, they typically run blowout sales to clear out all remaining inventory. And “everything must go” means everything must go. I’ve seen liquidation discounts as high as 70% or 80% on brand-new appliances.

13. Look for Manufacturer-Specific Deals

Appliance manufacturers frequently run limited-time promotions, often to coincide with model-year-turnover periods and retail holidays. One example is May Is Maytag Month, a month-long Maytag appliance promotion that offers hefty rebates on washers and other appliances every May.

14. Buy Multiple Appliances at Once

You shouldn’t buy an appliance you don’t need. That said, many homeowners eventually find themselves in situations that warrant or require them to purchase more than one appliance in a single transaction, such as adding a new kitchen (prime time for a Sears four-piece kitchen set) or finishing a basement (ideal for a Home Depot washer-dryer combo).

While more expensive than any single inclusion, these appliance bundles typically cost hundreds less than separate purchases.

15. Look for Affiliate Deals & Rewards Program Discounts

If you plan to buy online, don’t complete your purchase without checking for affiliate deals and rewards-based savings opportunities. For instance, Swagbucks, a popular online discount portal, offers 2% cash back on online Walmart purchases (with restrictions).

Such savings opportunities aren’t likely to rival seasonal sales or model-year-end events, but they certainly help. They also generally work in combination with other potentially deeper discounts.

16. Buy Used or Gently Damaged

If you’re willing to take your chances on Craigslist, it’s hard to think of a faster, more cost-effective place to buy older models. You can also check out consumer-to-consumer marketplaces like OfferUp, which broker sales as well.

Or check with your local home improvement stores’ inventory managers about buying floor models or merchandise with minor damages. Even a small dent or scratch can dramatically reduce an appliance’s resale value and your out-of-pocket costs.

17. Install New Appliances (& Remove the Old Ones) Yourself

Installing a new appliance yourself and hauling away the one it’s replacing can reduce your total investment by $100 or more. How much you stand to save depends on how long paid installers require to complete the job and whether the retailer charges separate fees to haul the old appliance away. Installers often impose a two-hour labor minimum, regardless of the job’s actual duration, at hourly rates of $45 or more.

Some types of appliances are easy to install. Getting an electric oven range or dryer ready for use is as simple as plugging it into a high-voltage electric outlet, for example. Positioning the appliance is more difficult. You need at least two strong people to get it in place, and getting it up or down stairs may be a bridge too far for nonexperts.

Appliances you hook up to water or gas lines, such as dishwashers, washing machines, and gas ovens, demand a bit more care but don’t require any specialized knowledge — provided professionals installed those water or gas lines. For an idea of what hooking up a major appliance to an existing water or gas line entails, refer to:


Final Word

Purchasing and installing major appliances represent significant costs of homeownership, albeit infrequent ones. If you spend more than a decade under the same roof, you’ll probably have to replace at least one shorter-lived appliance, such as a water heater, dishwasher, or washing machine or dryer.

If you make substantial modifications to your home, you’re much likelier to have to pony up. New appliances add thousands to the cost of most kitchen renovation projects, for example — an addition homeowners more preoccupied with countertops, cabinets, lighting, and flooring sometimes only belatedly factor into the budget.

While these tips have their limits, they can help reduce your net cost to purchase and install all the major appliances you rely on to keep your home livable.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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