Shopping for a new appliance can easily feel like an overwhelming whirlwind of features and rebate offers and extended warranties, bringing up crucial questions like, "Do I really need a wifi-connected fridge?" and "Why do I get a free knife set when I buy this dishwasher?" To help you navigate all of the deals and dodge the hidden fees, here are seven simple tips for saving money on appliances.
1. Keep Tabs on the Competition
Just like you set up an airfare tracker to find the best deals when you're planning a trip, you can set up price alerts for the appliance you have your eye on. The Amazon app lets you scan the barcode of an item you spot in a store and will pull up the item on Amazon, letting you quickly compare prices. RedLaser and ShopSavvy are two other apps that let you scan barcodes and compare prices at multiple retailers. If all of these comparisons clue you into the fact that, say, Amazon has the air purifier you want for $50 less than Best Buy, your local Best Buy store will match the price. Checking the retailer's price matching policy and doing a quick search on your phone can save you money without having to wait or physically shop around—a win for all us lazy, deal-loving shoppers out there.
2. Shop the "Scratch and Dent" Section
This is the appliance-shopping equivalent to getting 50% off a new Anthropologie sweater because it has a tiny snag no one will ever notice. The "scratch and dent" or "open box" section at major appliance retailers — such as Home Depot, Sears Outlet and Lowes— is where all of the slightly-damaged, yet unused appliances sit waiting for someone to love them despite their (barely noticeable) flaws. Oftentimes, the imperfections are small, like a scratch in the shiny stainless steel surface of a fridge, and discounts can range from 20% to 40%, or even more. Many stores let you shop the "scratch and dent" section online, but be wary when purchasing appliances you haven't seen in person. Look for retailers that offer free shipping, or that will provide free return shipping if the item isn't as pictured when it arrives.
3. Pull Out Your Best Thrift-Shop Haggling Skills
If this is your first time appliance shopping, you may not know that it's perfectly acceptable to negotiate for a lower price. Especially when shopping the "scratch and dent" section, asking for a little less off the already-reduced price is common. While stores aren't going to knock thousands of dollars off the price, you may be able to save $100 just by asking.
4. Consider the Long-Term Costs
Thinking about the amount of water or electricity your new appliance will use is not only important for the environment, but also for your wallet. If you think you're saving money by buying the less fancy model without energy-efficiency awards, you may end up spending more on your utility bill every month. The U.S. government sets certain energy standards for appliances, and you can search for a specific product and compare the energy efficiency of various models on eeCompass.
5. Wait for Sales Season
If you can put up with hand-washing dishes for a few months, it may be best to wait to splurge on that dishwasher until September, October or January, the months when new appliances are typically released and older models go on sale. The one exception to this rule is refrigerators, which generally go on sale in May. Even once you've made your purchase, continue to keep an eye on the sales, because many retailers, including Home Depot and Best Buy, will give you a refund if the price drops within a couple weeks of the purchase date. If you are an IKEA fan, the more you purchase during their annual kitchen sale, the greater your discount will be.
6. Watch for Rebates
First of all, check if your local utility company offers any sort of rebate for purchasing an energy-efficient appliance. Some retailers, including Sears, make this rebate easy to redeem by knocking the rebate amount right off the price of the appliance. Certain brands also offer mail-in rebates or special offers. KitchenAid advertises promotions on some of their most popular products (like a tempting $50 Visa prepaid card when you get one of their highly-coveted stand mixers).
7. Don't Forget About Shipping Costs
Unless you're driving the new appliance home yourself, you should factor in the shipping and delivery costs for a large appliance. When negotiating, ask if the store is willing to waive the shippings fees, install it for free, or offer free haul-away of your old appliance. These little fees add up, and when you're ponying up for a brand-new fridge, you'll be glad to keep $200 in your pocket.