19 Tips for Saving a Bundle of Money on Home Appliances

We’re in the middle of a kitchen and bathroom remodel that includes replacing our 14-year-old refrigerator. After replacing a couple of parts over the years, I figured it was finally time to bite the bullet and buy a new one.

Although I was hoping to get 20 years out of that old appliance, the ice maker died a couple months ago, and the door stops were broken long ago by my kids (who seem to think our refrigerator doors actually came off of a 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham). Am I really the only dad out there with kids who love to fling refrigerator doors open with reckless abandon? I digress.

Anyway, after doing our research the Honeybee and I finally bought a new refrigerator a few weeks ago, and we ended up getting a terrific deal because we took our time and did our homework.

Too bad we haven’t been as good at controlling our remodeling costs.

Here are 19 ways to help ensure you get the best deal too when buying your home appliances.

1. Become Star-struck. Buy Energy Star labeled appliances, which are certified as meeting government requirements for energy efficiency. Products with the Energy Star label not only result in lower utility bills, but also often entitle the buyer to utility company rebates.

2. Sign up for store email updates. Many stores will often provide exclusive information via email of special promotions like midnight sales or other limited online-only deals.

3. Take advantage of price match guarantees. Don’t be fooled by store tags that proclaim it’s the “Lowest Price – Guaranteed!” Most large retailers have price match guarantees that will also give you an additional 10 percent off the difference or – better yet – the price itself, so spend a few hours and shop around! We recently took advantage of a price match guarantee on our refrigerator and got the match plus another $15 off.

4. Think outside the box. Big box retailer, that is. You can often find great deals on appliances at Habitat for Humanity resale outlets and Craigslist.

5. Use a military discount. When my water heater needed replacement last year I discovered that Lowes offers a ten percent discount to members of the military. Always ask if the store you are shopping at offers one.

6. Get moving. If you’re in the process of moving, be sure to check out homedepotmoving.com or lowesmoving.com. Both Home Depot and Lowes sometimes offer ten percent “movers” discount coupons that can be used on appliances.

7. Embrace imperfections. Most retailers offer surprisingly steep discounts for appliances with minor scratches and dents.

8. Think package deals. Offering to purchase multiple appliances from the same location usually gives you plenty of leverage to negotiate additional discounts.

9. Buy a floor model. It is no secret that floor models are sold at a discount compared to the pristine versions sitting in the backroom. What isn’t as widely known is that you can often extract another ten percent or more off the price the manager initially quotes you.

10. Be flexible with your delivery schedule. If you can wait until the delivery truck can go out fully loaded – as opposed to nearly empty – you may be able to get those delivery charges waived. If they won’t waive the charges, see if they’ll give you a discount or offer a rebate.

11. Go postal. The post office will sometimes include discount coupons in their change of address packets.

12. Wax nostalgic (for last year’s model). Big discounts are available for people who are willing to take the previous year’s models off a retailer’s hands. And let’s face it, how many of us would notice the difference anyway? The best time to employ this strategy is during September and October, when the new appliance models generally come out.

13. Haggle. Don’t be afraid to haggle! After all, the worst that any salesman can say is no. I even haggled at Lowes when buying my last barbecue – although it was with a floor manager, not the sales associate. To be sure you get the lowest prices, when comparison shopping, hit those establishments that pay commissions to their sales staff last.

14. Keep it white. We bought a basic white refrigerator. Why? Because the exact same model with a stainless steel finish was $200 more. If you have multiple appliances, the price premium for non-white finishes can really add up.

15. Remember, (same as) cash is king. As long as you pay off the loan in full before the end of the promotional period, zero percent financing allows you to keep your money in the bank and earn a little interest – which ends up being a de facto discount on your purchase.

16. Use a cash dividend rewards credit card. Speaking of de facto discounts, you can also take advantage of a cash-dividend rewards credit card to get a percent or two off the purchase price – as long as you pay off your credit cards in full at the end of the month, of course.

17. Leverage gift card discounts. By using gift cards to pay for your appliances you can usually take advantage of special deals offered at locations like supermarkets and other stores.  For example, you can often buy $100 gift cards to stores like Best Buy for $90.

18. Avoid the extended warranty. Generally, if something is going to go wrong with your new appliances, it’s going to happen under the original manufacturer’s warranty period – not during the extended warranty period. But if you are still unsure, try applying this extended warranty litmus test.

19. Turn that old appliance in to your utility company. You can help defray the cost of your new refrigerator by taking advantage of utility company rebates for old refrigerators in good working order.

So that’s it; the more of these tips you use, the bigger your appliance savings will be. In fact, you can get a significant multiplier effect if you use enough of these tips.

Now, if I can only figure out a way to keep my kids from treating my new refrigerator like it was an old Cadillac.

20 comments to 19 Tips for Saving a Bundle of Money on Home Appliances

  • Excellent tips. I might be buying a fridge soon and these savings ideas will come in handy! I’d also add take advantage of stores offering 0% APR for so many months on purchase of X amount of dollars. As long as the appliance gets paid off BEFORE interest accrues, it works out to the benefit of the purchaser.

  • This is why Len’s is my favorite personal finance site whose initials aren’t “CYC”: practical advice you can act on.

  • I purchased a new fridge a couple of years ago and one thing I noticed is that the Energy-Star rating measures the amount of energy it takes to refrigerate per cubic measure. I compared a smaller fridge with one that was energy-star and I found that the smaller one used a lot less electricity per year. Since I’m single, I didn’t need a big fridge. So even though I didn’t buy the Energy-Star rated fridge, I got one that costs me a lot less per year to run.

  • @LittleHouse: Absolutely, Jennifer! We love our new refirgerator – especially the extra cubic foot of space we now have in the freezer. That space was originally taken up by the ice maker, which is now in the door of our new refrigerator. Fourteen years is an eternity in electronics and appliances and the technology really improved over that time.
    @Greg: Thank you, Greg! And you know I love Control Your Cash too!
    @Norman: I’m curious… Why did you choose not to buy a smaller fridge with the Energy Star label? Were there none available?

  • Great tips! We ended up remodeling the kitchen a couple years ago after buying our new fridge. :)

    I bought a refrigerator with an ice maker this time, which was the best thing with all the sports my kids are in.

    One more suggestion would be to measure the space available for that appliance. I almost bought a fridge that never would have fit based on the niche that was built in the refrigerator.

  • Len! What great timing. We recently finished renovating one of our rental units and need to find appliances. Initially, I thought we had to buy new because, well, my family has had bad experiences with used cars (back in the 1980s) and still hesitant to buy anything used, but if we can get any kind of discount, it’s worth it.

  • Definitely agree on avoiding the extreme warranty. Just go for a solid brand that doesn’t have a history of breaking down. I also think, like with most things, to get with the previous year’s model. Same deal with cars for example. Probably not as smart of an idea with things whose technology changes really easily like computers, but appliances definitely pass the test.

  • Wow, some of these I’ve never heard of before!!!

    Thanks for the great list!!! I just had a friend recently take advantage of the postal coupons. He’s moving and in their change-of-address kit, they have Lowes and Home Depot coupons!

  • I really like the tip to get a scratched or floor model. Especially with appliances, it’s not like they used it much at the store so it’s basically brand new.

  • I as well believe thus, perfectly composed post! .

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