appliances en-US Make Your Dishwasher Last (Almost) Forever With These 6 Tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-your-dishwasher-last-almost-forever-with-these-6-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="dishwasher" title="dishwasher" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bringing home a new dishwasher is a major commitment. When you spend that much money on an appliance, you hope it will last and last. While there are no guarantees that you didn&#39;t somehow buy a lemon, there are things you can do to make your new dishwasher last much, much longer than its expected life (usually about 15 years). (See also: <a href="">5 Best Dishwashers</a>)</p> <h2>1. Check Your Filter Regularly</h2> <p>Some new dishwashers have self-cleaning filters, but that&#39;s an expensive feature that doesn&#39;t always work as well as you&#39;d expect. If you don&#39;t have this feature on your dishwasher or don&#39;t want to rely on it, simply clean out the filter manually. The amount of cleaning yours needs may vary &mdash; some manuals say to clean every load, some say once a week, and others once a month. Follow the instructions in your manual. Cleaning the filter allows you to remove large pieces of debris that would otherwise be trapped in your washer and impede its functioning. (See also: <a href="">How to Clean Your Dishwasher</a>)</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> If you no longer have your manual, Google the make and model of your dishwasher. Many manufacturers have their manuals posted online for easy access.</p> <h2>2. Clean the Sprayer Arms</h2> <p>Depending on your model of washer, you may have one sprayer arm or two in your dishwasher. The little holes in these can get filled with debris particles, hard water deposits, and other gunk. Usually, you can remove the arm and wash it in your sink with warm, soapy water. However, you will want to follow the specific directions in your manual to make sure you don&#39;t do more harm than good. Do this somewhere between once a week and once a month to ensure optimal spraying and a long life for these arms.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> You can also soak this arm with diluted vinegar, which will help remove any stubborn hard water deposits. (See also: <a href="">Weird and Wonderful Ways to Use Vinegar</a>)</p> <h2>3. Use Water at the Correct Temperature</h2> <p>To ensure that your dishwasher operates well without melting or burning any of the components, make sure that your hot water heater is set at the optimal temperature as listed in your manual. Even if your water isn&#39;t hot enough to hurt any parts during one cycle, repeated exposure to water that is too hot can cause damage over time. Since these are not always the &quot;typical&quot; parts that break, replacing them can be quite expensive.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> If you aren&#39;t sure how to change the temp settings on your hot water heater, look that up in its manual. Again, you can usually find the manual online if you don&#39;t have it anymore.</p> <h2>4. Manage Rust</h2> <p>If you have metal parts in your dishwasher, check to make sure that they are not rusting. While most dishwashers use stainless steel for any parts that have regular contact with water, some older models do not. And even stainless steel can be damaged under certain conditions. If you notice any rust or other metal damage, replace the parts immediately. Rust and/or metal pieces can clog your pump, which is usually a costly repair.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> Sometimes you can repair your dishwasher racks with a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001AAAZ1I&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">repair kit</a>. Other times, you may need to buy brand new racks to get rid of the problem.</p> <h2>5. Only Wash Dishes</h2> <p>While there are different sites online that advocate using your dishwasher to wash everything from keyboards to vegetables, doing this can harm your dishwasher. Some of these items have pieces that can break off under the force of water in the washer, and these can cause clogs and other damage. Since washing things that aren&#39;t dishes usually voids the warranty, you&#39;ll be out of luck and have to pay for repairs yourself.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> Other items, like keyboards and trash can lids, can contain germs that <a href="">won&#39;t necessarily be destroyed</a> by your dishwasher. Since you don&#39;t want these on your dishes, don&#39;t put these in your dishwasher in the first place! (See also: <a href="">Shocking Germ Hotspots You Touch Every Day</a>)</p> <h2>6. Run Cleansing Cycles</h2> <p>If you do nothing else for your dishwasher, run cleansing cycles at least once a month. You can use special dishwasher cleaner for this, or simply put a packet of lemon Kool-Aid (or other lemonade mix) where you would usually put detergent (some say to make sure it is sugar-free). The mix contains citric acid, which will help dissolve any clogs and/or mineral deposits that have built up in the washer.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> Lemon Kool-Aid also makes your dishwasher smell lemony fresh!</p> <p><em>Good luck, and may your dishes be ever sparkling! And if you have any other dishwasher tips for us and our readers, leave them in the comments.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Make Your Dishwasher Last (Almost) Forever With These 6 Tricks" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home appliance maintenance appliances dishwasher home maintenance Thu, 16 Jan 2014 11:36:11 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1111195 at The 5 Best Freezers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-freezers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="freezer" title="freezer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A freezer, like a refrigerator, serves to keep food cold to impede the growth of bacteria. Unlike a refrigerator, a freezer keeps food below the freezing point of water &mdash; specifically, below 18 degrees Celsius, where food can safely be stored indefinitely. To help you figure out which freezer is best for you, here is Wise Bread's selection of the top 5 freezers.</p> <h2>What Is a Freezer?</h2> <p>As previously mentioned, a freezer is designed to keep food frozen below 18 degrees Celsius. Freezers come in two main types: upright models and chests. Upright models also come in two primary forms, manual-defrost and self-defrost. Manual-defrost freezers are cheaper to buy and run, but don't do as good of a job at maintaining a constant temperature as self-defrost models. Chest freezers offer the most storage as they are comprised of one large compartment (shelves in upright models reduce the amount of usable space), can accommodate bulkier items, and tend to be more energy efficient. Nonetheless, they are more difficult to organize because of their lack of shelves.</p> <h2>Best 5 Freezers</h2> <h3><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0017SHQTW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="200" height="222" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Frigidaire FFU21F5HW Upright Freezer</h3> <p>Recommended by Consumer Reports, this <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0017SHQTW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Frigidaire upright, self-defrost freezer</a> has a carrying capacity of 20.5 cubic feet and performed very well in professional tests. Aside from the automatic defrost; it comes with other features including an open-door alarm and digital controls. <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0017SHQTW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $699.99 on Amazon.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001CWDZYI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="250" height="189" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Danby DCF700W1 Chest Freezer</h3> <p>For those that are looking for a basic chest freezer at a relatively inexpensive price, look no further. This <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001CWDZYI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Danby chest freezer</a> has a carrying capacity of 7 cubic feet and comes with a front-mount mechanical thermostat. Users claim that it is remarkably energy efficient with a foam insulated cabinet and extremely quiet. <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001CWDZYI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $308.19 on Amazon.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0026SP05E&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="200" height="232" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>GE FCM15PUWW Chest Freezer</h3> <p>Another freezer recommended by Consumer Reports, this <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0026SP05E&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">GE chest freezer</a> is well-reviewed for those looking for larger carrying capacity. Clocking in at 14.8 cubic feet, this freezer also features a keyed lock, interior lights, and a power indicator. Four sliding baskets help with organization and users claim that it is quiet and efficient. Unfortunately, as with all chest freezers, it will require manual defrosting. <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0026SP05E&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $610.49 on Amazon.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=16922"><img width="240" height="276" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Kenmore 16922 Chest Freezer</h3> <p>A Consumer Reports Best Buy, this <a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=16922">Kenmore chest freezer</a> is a solid performer for those not looking for quite as much storage space. With a carrying capacity of 8.8 cubic feet, it's among the smaller freezers on this list, but it does include a number of additional features such as a keyed lock, interior lights, power-on light and two lift-out baskets for some organizational options. However, keep in mind that it's not Energy-Star efficient, but its smaller size still makes it decently energy efficient. <a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=16922">Currently $329.59 at Sears.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=04607141000"><img width="200" height="219" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Frigidaire FFU17M7H Upright Freezer</h3> <p>This <a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=04607141000">Frigidaire manual-defrost upright freezer</a> rounds out our list of the best 5 freezers. This Frigidaire has a carrying capacity of 16.7 cubic feet, and 3 cabinet shelves, a slide-out basket and flexible door storage makes organization quite easy. Additional features include a security lock, interior and exterior power lights and finally a Soft Freeze Zone for things like ice cream. <a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=04607141000">Currently $629.99 at Sears.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Those are our top 5 choices for freezers. Be sure to check out the <a href="">Wise Bread Shopping Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Best Freezers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jeffrey Pu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping appliances buying guide freezers product reviews Thu, 26 Sep 2013 09:54:25 +0000 Jeffrey Pu 986772 at The 5 Best Refrigerators <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-refrigerators" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="refrigerator" title="refrigerator" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A household appliance that needs no introduction, the refrigerator is a staple found in just about every kitchen. As a matter of fact, most residences include a refrigerator when you move in. But what happens when you need to buy a new one? Many modern fridges are more complex than the simple &quot;freezer on top, fridge on bottom&quot; styles of old. To help you sort through all the models out there to choose from, we've compiled a list of top 5 best refrigerators.</p> <h2>What Is a Refrigerator?</h2> <p>We all know that a refrigerator keeps your food and produce cold, but how exactly does it do this? Essentially, a refrigerator is nothing more than a thermally insulated compartment that uses a heat pump to move heat from within to the exterior. There are three primary types of refrigerators: top-freezer, bottom-freezer, and side-by-sides. Top-freezers are the most common, simplest to use, and the least expensive. Bottom freezers are a bit more expensive, but more convenient because the most accessed area, the fridge portion, is higher off the ground. Finally, side-by-sides are even more expensive, but the form-factor is better fitting for certain kitchens.</p> <h2>Best 5 Refrigerators</h2> <h3><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004WEH2VU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="150" height="225" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Maytag M1TXEGMYW</h3> <p>Recommended by Consumer Reports, this <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004WEH2VU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Maytag refrigerator</a> is highly rated for its performance as well as fantastic energy efficiency. Users also love the fact that it is roomy, coming with a carrying capacity of 21 cubic foot as well as quiet. It comes with relatively few extra features, but its inexpensive pricetag makes up for it. Aside from its solid performance, this refrigerator comes with an ice maker, two humidity-controlled crispers, and tempered glass shelves. <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004WEH2VU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $779.99 on Amazon.</a></p> <h3><a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00ECTRZCQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="150" height="225" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Haier HT21TS45SW</h3> <p>A Best Buy from Consumer Reports, this <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00ECTRZCQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Haier</a> is another top-freezer refrigerator with great temperature performance and exceptional energy efficiency. Consumer Reports lists its carrying capacity at 17.5 cubic foot. It also features gallon door storage and spillproof shelves. <a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00ECTRZCQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $630.00 on Amazon.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=204061988"><img width="150" height="225" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>LG LDC22720SW</h3> <p>A solid-performing bottom-freezer refrigerator, this <a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=204061988">LG refrigerator</a> did very well in professional tests. It also features extras including a door alarm, an ice maker, and a freezer light. The 22.4 cubic foot carrying capacity also gives you quite a bit of room to store your groceries. The downside is that bottom-freezers are not only more expensive, but also less energy efficient. <a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=204061988">Currently $1169.10 at Home Depot.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><a href=";;cjsku=309589-149-RF268ABPN"><img width="150" height="225" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Samsung RF268ABRS</h3> <p>The top-rated refrigerator model at Good Housekeeping, GH lauds this <a href=";;cjsku=309589-149-RF268ABPN">Samsung refrigerator</a>'s perfect temperature management and the fact that it comes with a plethora of ease-of-use features. Adjustable shelves and bins, two ice makers, various temperature control options, and an easy-open freezer door handle provides you absolute control over your refrigerator settings. Finally, a carrying capacity of almost 26 cubic feet makes it the most spacious of all the refrigerators on this list. <a href=";;cjsku=309589-149-RF268ABPN">Currently $2299 at Lowes.</a></p> <h3><a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=203673164"><img width="150" height="225" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Samsung RS265TDWP</h3> <p>Recommended by Consumer Reports, this <a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=203673164">Samsung refrigerator</a> is the roomiest side-by-side refrigerator with 25.5 cubic feet carrying capacity. Extra features include through-door ice and water dispensers, spillproof shelves and touchpad controls. It's also one of the quietest side-by-side models, which users appreciate. <a target="_blank" href=";cjsku=203673164">Currently $1349.10 at Home Depot.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And those are our choices for the best 5 refrigerators. Be sure to check out the <a href="">Wise Bread Shopping Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Best Refrigerators" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jeffrey Pu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping appliances buying guide product reviews refrigerator Wed, 18 Sep 2013 10:00:04 +0000 Jeffrey Pu 981835 at The 5 Best Small Appliances for Students <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-small-appliances-for-students" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="ironing laundry" title="ironing laundry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Having a well-furnished dorm room can make a world of difference for college students. But among all the potential small appliances you could get for a dorm room, there are a few essentials that no college student should go without. Here to help narrow down the list is Wise Bread's picks for the best small appliances for students.</p> <h2>Best 5 Small Appliances for Students</h2> <h3>Maytag Premium Analog Steam Iron</h3> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00AW51NJA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20" target="_blank"><img width="210" height="182" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>The need for a steam iron may not be readily apparent for many college students, but you never know when you'll be called on to go to a fancy dinner. A steam iron will also come in handy when you begin applying for jobs or internships. Recommended by Consumer Reports, the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00AW51NJA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20" target="_blank">Maytag Premium Analog M800 Steam Iron</a> is a solid iron that heats up in just 55 seconds. It also features vertical steaming for quick fixes and an automatic shut-off. <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00AW51NJA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20" target="_blank">Currently $115.53 on Amazon.</a></p> <h3>Frigidaire Compact Refrigerator</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href=";;cjsku=203541111"><img width="200" height="204" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>A staple in any college dorm room, a compact fridge stores drinks, leftovers, and whatever else a college student may need to keep cold without taking up too much precious floor space. This <a href=";offerid=223073.19423451&amp;type=2&amp;">Frigidaire</a> has a carrying capacity of 4.4 cubic feet which makes it bigger than most other compact refrigerators on the market, but still a good fit for a dorm room. <a target="_blank" href=";;cjsku=203541111">Currently on sale for $229.00 at Home Depot.</a></p> <h3>RCA 1.1 cu. ft. Digital Microwave Oven</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href=";offerid=223073.19423451&amp;type=2&amp;"><img width="250" height="142" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>Whether it's for heating up the leftovers you have in that new compact refrigerator or a packaged meal because you don't have enough time to cook properly, a microwave is another staple appliance that should be found in any college student dorm. This <a href=";offerid=223073.19423451&amp;type=2&amp;">RCA microwave</a> has a carrying capacity of 1.1 cubic foot and a turntable for even heating. <a href=";offerid=223073.19423451&amp;type=2&amp;">Currently $49.00 at Walmart.</a></p> <h3>Bissell Pet Hair Eraser 33A1</h3> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001EYFQ28&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20" target="_blank"><img width="210" height="183" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>Don't let its name fool you, the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001EYFQ28&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20" target="_blank">Bissell Pet Hair Eraser</a> &mdash; a hand-vacuum cleaner &mdash; is recommended by Consumer Reports for college students. According to CR, this hand-vacuum is excellent at cleaning bare floors and edges, and competent enough at handling carpet. The small pricetag makes this Bissell vacuum all the more attractive. <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001EYFQ28&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20" target="_blank">Currently $24.99 on Amazon.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Cuisinart Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker</h3> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00005IBX9&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20" target="_blank"><img width="210" height="210" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>Early classes are probably the biggest reason why college students develop a coffee addiction. But if you do need that caffeine pick-me-up to stay awake in class or finish that all-nighter paper, then why not make your own instead of waiting in line and paying $4 for a cup of joe? With a small profile that doesn't take up too much space, you can program the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00005IBX9&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20" target="_blank">Cuisinart Brew Central</a> to make 12 cups, 24 hours in advance. <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00005IBX9&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20" target="_blank">Currently $89.95 on Amazon.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There you have our choices for the best 5 small appliances for students. Be sure to check out the <a href="">Wise Bread Shopping Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Best Small Appliances for Students" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jeffrey Pu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping appliances buying guide college students product reviews Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:24:04 +0000 Jeffrey Pu 981808 at How Much Money Will You Save With Energy Star Appliances? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-much-money-will-you-save-with-energy-star-appliances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="energy star" title="energy star" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Last week, we wrote about the <a title="Energy Hogs Hiding in Your Home" href="">power hogs that hide in your home</a>, trampling all over your wallet while making your carbon footprint way too fat. This week we'll concentrate on how, going forward, you can combat your energy costs by purchasing Energy Star products. (See also: <a href="" title="5 Ways to Save Water, Energy, Money, and the World in One Afternoon">5 Ways to Save Water, Energy, Money, and the World in One Afternoon</a>)</p> <p>While energy-efficient <a title="appliance deals" href="">appliances</a> can save you money through usage, few people realize that you can get a tidy refund via a tax credit (after the proper IRS paperwork), too! And though it's too late to claim such a credit on last year's taxes, you can start planning for a payoff on this year's, by purchasing an Energy Star appliance. Here is what you need to know about the savings can you expect when it comes to Energy Star products.</p> <h3>What Is Energy Star?</h3> <p>A joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, <a title="About Energy Star" href="">Energy Star designates energy efficient products and practices</a>. Besides household products and appliances, Energy Star extends its designations into home construction itself, meaning that a new home can earn an Energy Star seal. Thanks to Energy Star, Americans saved enough power in 2010 to prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars &mdash; all while saving nearly $18 billion on their utility bills.</p> <h3>How Much Money Will Energy Star Appliances Save Me?</h3> <p>The operating costs of many Energy Star appliances are printed on their labels, though it helps to know how much your old appliances used in order to gain a proper perspective. As mentioned last week, old refrigerators are often the biggest energy offenders, wasting up to three times as much energy as new ones. (You can calculate your savings with this <a title="refrigerator retirement savings calculator" href="">refrigerator retirement savings calculator</a>). Of course, Energy Star appliances run the gamut from air conditioners to lawn care tools. There are, of course, <a title="Energy Star products" href="">general guidelines for how much an Energy Star product can save your household</a>, as compared to a non-Energy Star model.</p> <p>For perspective, here are some <a title="pros and cons of Energy Star products" href="">figures from the National Resource Defense Council</a>, courtesy of Replacing a 1980s model refrigerator with, perhaps, this <a title="Whirlpool refrigerator" href=";a=558643&amp;k=WyJTaG9wcGluZ0NvbSIsIjk1MDQ3MDQ1IiwiOTA0NSIsIjE4ODkiXQ%3D%3D">Whirlpool 21.9-Cubic Foot Bottom-Freezer Refrigerator</a> from Abt Electronics can save you $100 a year in total energy costs. Replacing a pre-1994 clothes washer will save you as much as $110 a year; and a new, Energy Star dishwasher &mdash; like the <a title="Whirlpool dishwasher" href="" class="image_link">Whirlpool Super Capacity Tall Tub Stainless Steel Built-In Dishwasher</a> &mdash; will save you about $25 per year. Multiply those savings over an appliance's 20-year lifetime, and you're talking thousands of dollars of potential cost reduction.</p> <h3>How Do Energy Star Tax Credits Work?</h3> <p>Tax credits are still available for consumers who purchased home improvement items in 2011, so if you splurged on some new windows or an air conditioner for the holidays, you're in luck. These tax-deductible goods include biomass stoves; heating, ventilating, and air conditioning; insulation; roofs (Metal &amp; Asphalt); water heaters (non-solar); and windows and doors. The tax credit for these items is, on average, 10% of cost, and up to a cumulative deduction of $500. The tax credit applies only to an existing home or your principal residence; new construction and rentals do not qualify. To apply for the tax credits for 2011 purchases, you'll need to file <a title="IRS Form 5695" href="">IRS Form 5695</a> for Residential Energy Credits, a five-page attachment that your accountant or tax preparer can fill out easily with the proper receipts and documentation.</p> <h3>What's Changing for the 2012 Tax Year?</h3> <p>Unfortunately, some of the best Energy Star tax credits expired on January 1, 2012, including those that allowed folks to claim up to 30% of improvements like a new roof or hot water heater. However, through December 31, 2016, you'll be able to claim 30% of your costs (with no upper limit) on geothermal heat pumps, small, residential wind turbines, and solar energy systems. Existing homes and new construction qualify, as do principal residences and second homes, though rentals do not. What's more, homeowners can also earn a credit of up to <a title="energy efficiency tax credits" href="">30% of the cost of residential fuel cells</a> (up to $500 per .5kW of power capacity), through the end of 2016.</p> <p>If you want to know how much a solar or wind system might cost to install, check out the handy cost estimator at <a title="" href=""></a>. Entering my ZIP code in Cook County, IL, along with some basic information on my electric bill, I learned that a solar system would be a &quot;good&quot; bet based on my area's solar rating, and that the total cost of a system would run about $17,700, after the $7,590 tax credit is applied. That's a large up-front cost, but long-term energy savings can be substantial; with a handy graphic it's estimated that I'd break even in 12 years &mdash; and be $20,000 <em>ahead</em> in 24 years.</p> <h3>What's the Bottom Line on Energy Star?</h3> <p>Appliances that earn an Energy Star rating may cost a bit more upfront, but in an overwhelming majority of cases, their operating costs yield big savings over the lifetimes of the products. And while you can't bank on the government bringing back the now-expired 2011 tax credits, anything is possible in an election year, especially when energy costs are an important voter issue. Regardless, the facts show that Energy Star is working for the betterment of the environment while simultaneously lowering electric bills. Even in our fractured political climate, that's a platform everyone can agree upon &mdash; and incentive enough for all of us to make some major changes around the house not just in 2012, but also in the years to come as well.</p> <p>This is a guest post by <a href="">Dealnews</a>.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> While it might seem smarter to stick with older appliances, stocking your home with Energy Star appliances can save you major cash in the long run. </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Dealnews</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Home appliances dishwasher energy star refrigerator saving energy tax credits Mon, 19 Mar 2012 09:48:19 +0000 Dealnews 911581 at 7 Deadly Energy Sinners: The Energy Hogs Hiding in Your Home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-deadly-energy-sinners-the-energy-hogs-hiding-in-your-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="old TV" title="old TV" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A good number of Baby Boomers can recall conversations with their grandparents about a time before electricity, or when an &quot;icebox&quot; was literally a container that housed a block of ice that kept food inside cool. But my, how times have changed. We have gizmos and gadgets that didn't even exist a decade ago, and we consume energy at an alarming rate. Between 1949 and 2010, <a href="" title="Annual Energy Review 2010 (PDF)">domestic energy consumption has more than doubled to about 100 quadrillion BTUs</a> (PDF), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. During that same period, consumption of coal, petroleum, and natural gas have skyrocketed &mdash; yet energy use from renewable sources, such as the sun and wind, has remained surprisingly flat.</p> <p>Look around your own home, and you'll find power guzzlers in both likely and unlikely places. But by making some fairly painless changes, you can see big savings: in energy, cash, and yes, saving the planet by shrinking your carbon footprint. Here's a look at some of those power-hungry appliances, and what you can do to be more efficient and economical without backbreaking hassle. (See also: <a title="5 Ways to Save Water, Energy, Money, and the World in One Afternoon" href="">5 Ways to Save Water, Energy, Money, and the World in One Afternoon</a>)</p> <h3>Old Refrigerators</h3> <p>They sure don't build 'em like they used to, right? While older refrigerators may hold up better than their newer, more sleek-looking cousins, they also use up to three times more energy. Opting for a <a href="" title="appliances deals">new EnergyStar-rated refrigerator</a> can save you significant cash in the long run. The <a href="" title="LG Electronics refrigerator">LG Electronics 25-Cu. Ft. French Door Refrigerator</a> is EnergyStar-certified and has a chic three French door design. Plus your savings don't stop there! First, you're eligible for EnergyStar tax credits for your purchase. And some electric utilities like <a href="" title="ComEd recycling">ComEd in Illinois will pick up your obsolete appliances</a> when you replace them &mdash; and give you cash to boot. Want to figure out your potential savings? The Environmental Protection Agency has this handy <a href="" title="savings calculator">refrigerator retirement savings calculator</a> where you can see how the savings add up.</p> <h3>Old Freezers</h3> <p>Every time frozen dinners go on sale, I wax nostalgic for the chest freezer my parents had at their house. But those <a href="" title="old freezers cost">older freezers cost about $120 a year to operate</a>, according to the California Energy Commission. Costs like that can easily wipe out any supermarket savings and can even put you in the hole. If your freezer's there for sentimental value, get rid of it &mdash; and consider replacing it with a more efficient EnergyStar model, or doing without one at all. Going the latter route will save you enough money in appliance and power costs that you can buy frozen dinners at full price and still come out ahead. (Of course, March being <a href="" title="The Best and Worst Things to Buy in March">National Frozen Foods Month</a>, you can stock up at a discount all the same.)</p> <h3>Clothes Dryers</h3> <p>While the whirring and chugging of your washer's spin cycle might suggest it uses lots of energy, the dryer is the real power hog of the pair. Figures from the U.S. Department of Energy show that <a href="" title="energy saver estimates">dryers consume between 1800 and 5000 watts of power</a>. So 200 hour-long drying cycles could run you as much as $85. Not only does investing in a clothesline and clothespins cost you mere pennies, but avoiding the dryer will also <a href="" title="make clothes last longer">preserve the life of your clothes</a>, saving you money in other areas as well.</p> <h3>Space Heaters</h3> <p>Thank goodness we're getting out of winter, as <a href="" title="heater deals">space heaters</a> consume about as much power as a blow dryer (750 to 1500 watts), but stay on for much, <em>much</em> longer. One space heater might not consume a lot, but multiply that by three or four units, and you've got some real power guzzling going on. The obvious alternative &mdash; wearing thick sweaters or layers &mdash; really does work.</p> <h3>Televisions</h3> <p>It's common to use the TV as a white noise machine when we're not watching, but we might as well paper our walls with dollar bills. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates TV power consumption at between 110 and 170 watts, meaning that if you leave it on eight hours a day, you're consuming close to 1 kilowatt of energy. Over the course of a year that could add up to $30 per TV set you leave on. Just as you would with lights, <a href="" title="best TV deals">shut TVs off</a> when they're not in use. It's also wise to invest in a newer television set like the <a href="" title="VIERA deal">Panasonic VIERA 42&quot; 120Hz 1080p LED-Backlit Widescreen LCD Television</a>, which will only <a href="" title="most efficient TVs">cost you $10 per year to operate</a> (assuming it's on for five hours a day).</p> <h3>Personal Computers and Monitors</h3> <p>While many consumers now <a href="" title="best laptop deals">favor laptops</a> for home and on-the-go use, it's not as if the tower computer with a separate monitor is a thing of the past. Taken together, a computer and its monitor eat up close to 300 watts of energy. Supposing you leave your computer on eight hours a day, you're now looking at more than $60 in energy usage over the course of a year. When you computer's not in use, power down. Put those extra savings toward some nifty <a href="" title="software deals">software</a> packages or a <a href="" title="peripherals deals">wireless mouse</a>.</p> <h3>Swimming Pool Pumps</h3> <p>People who live in warmer climes might not think about their pool pumps, but the same device that circulates water also sucks wallets dry. Department of Energy statistics show that a <a href="" title="energy saver swimming pool pump">typical pool pump costs $240 a year to operate</a>. But in a study by the Center for Energy Conservation at Florida Atlantic University, pool owners saved as much as 75% when they used conservation measures such as downsizing their pump or running it less.</p> <p>When it comes to looking for power hogs around the house, you won't exactly have luck listening for a piggy squeal. But here's the next best thing &mdash; consider age. Simply put, old appliances, especially the large ones, don't run nearly as efficiently as newer ones from a power-consumption standpoint. Also, as a general rule, know that any appliance that has a huge power draw (such as a space heater) is going to sock your electric bill if you forget to power it off. Put these bits of wisdom to work, and chances are you'll save hundreds of dollars a year on your energy bills. Getting in the habit of shutting all your appliances and lights off when not in use is going to help that bottom line, too.</p> <p><em>This is a guest post by </em><a title="dealnews" href=""><em>Dealnews</em></a><em>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> You&#039;ll find power guzzlers in both likely and unlikely places around your home. But by making some fairly painless changes, you can see big savings. </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Dealnews</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living appliances cut energy costs electronics energy Tue, 13 Mar 2012 09:48:23 +0000 Dealnews 910996 at Carrying the Kenmore: How to Move a Fridge <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/carrying-the-kenmore-how-to-move-a-fridge" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="guys moving fridge" title="guys moving fridge" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are a few things in your house that are harder to move than others. Some families have pianos, others have gun safes. And everyone has a refrigerator. Moving these items just isn&rsquo;t the same as moving boxes or small pieces of furniture &mdash; not only are they expensive to replace if something goes wrong, but a misplaced hand or foot could mean that you wind up injuring yourself.</p> <p>Whenever I&rsquo;ve had to move house &mdash; or even just move a heavy item from one room to the next &mdash; I&rsquo;ve had the benefit of my dad&rsquo;s wisdom. Mike Bram, my father, also happens to be the owner of <a href="">Fisher Piano Moving</a>. He spends all day finding ways to move not just pianos but any sort of heavy and awkward object that regular moving crews don&rsquo;t want to touch. Here are his best tips for making sure that you can move heavy objects and keep both yourself and the object intact at the end of the move. (See also: <a href="">What to Know When&nbsp;Renting a Moving Truck</a>)</p> <h3>Get the Right Equipment</h3> <p>Refrigerators are the most common big items that a person might try to move without calling in a moving company. Mike suggests getting an appliance dolly, rather than trying to use a normal dolly, to make the move. Appliance dollies have mechanisms built in that let you move the whole dolly, with a refrigerator or other appliance strapped on to it, up and down stairs. You&rsquo;ll need two people &mdash; one pushing and pulling &mdash; and it&rsquo;s especially important to make sure that you&rsquo;re working in tandem. You can rent an appliance dolly from just about anywhere that you can rent a moving truck from.</p> <p>Mike says that the biggest mistake he sees when it comes to moving refrigerators is a very simple one: &ldquo;People don&rsquo;t cover the fridge up with pads. Especially on stainless steel, any scratches you pick up will really show.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s easy to do, though. You can use just about anything as a pad, from shrink wrap to old blankets that you don&rsquo;t mind ripping. Pad your refrigerator before loading it on the dolly, so that the appliance is protected from the straps. Then ratchet the straps just tight enough that you can&rsquo;t get your fingers underneath them. There should still be a little give, though.</p> <h3>Protect the Area You&rsquo;re Moving In</h3> <p>You may not be moving your fridge very far. Maybe you just need it on the other side of the kitchen so that you can <a href="">paint the wall</a> behind it. It&rsquo;s tempting to just push a refrigerator as far as you need it to go &mdash; after all, some appliances (and other large objects) have small plastic wheels on the bottom that seem perfect for the purpose. The truth is, in Mike&rsquo;s experience, those wheels are more dangerous than helpful. Without them, pushing an appliance across your floor will often result in scratches and tears in the linoleum. With them, you&rsquo;re likely to wind up with a broken wheel and a gouge in the floor. Things are worse on wood floors or if you take the appliance outside.</p> <p>Mike does have an easy solution to the problem. He says, &ldquo;One way to avoid those scratches is to take clean scrap carpeting, turn it upside down, slide it under the fridge and then slide the fridge out on top of the carpet. Thick <a href="">cardboard</a> can work in place of the carpet.&rdquo;</p> <h3>Protect Yourself During the Move</h3> <p>Always be more careful than you think you actually need to be, especially when you&rsquo;re dealing with moving something heavy. You need to remember the basics of personal safety &mdash; like lifting with your legs, rather than your back &mdash; but you need to go beyond those basics, too. You have to be able to control your refrigerator (or anything else you want) throughout every step of the move. Mike points out: &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t ever take anything on the stairs that you can&rsquo;t control. If it gets away from you, it&rsquo;ll go a lot faster than you will and someone will always get hurt.&rdquo;</p> <p>Get everyone who isn&rsquo;t actually moving your bulky object out of the way. Children and pets need to be far away from the action, and Mike suggests that you don&rsquo;t need any management around who isn&rsquo;t actually physically up to helping with the move.</p> <p>Use more straps and tie-downs than you expect to need, especially when moving something heavy on a truck. Mike has plenty of horror stories from his customers about what could go wrong: &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen pianos come loose and then fly out of a truck on to asphalt. There&rsquo;s nothing left at that point but to sweep up the mess.&rdquo;</p> <p>What is actually too big to move on your own depends entirely on you. Mike has had customers who will move everything up to a gun safe themselves, but will call for help with something that big. It&rsquo;s a question of what you feel comfortable moving yourself and what work you&rsquo;re willing to do to make sure you&rsquo;re doing everything right &mdash; from renting the right equipment on down.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Carrying the Kenmore: How to Move a Fridge" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Thursday Bram</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips appliances DIY moving refrigerator Tue, 28 Feb 2012 11:00:18 +0000 Thursday Bram 908168 at When Something Breaks, Should You Repair or Replace? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/when-something-breaks-should-you-repair-or-replace" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Man repairing roof" title="Man repairing roof" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="138" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My Grandpa Clyde was one of the great handymen of all time. He could repair just about anything.</p> <p>Before Clyde bought something, the first thing he'd ask was whether he could get parts and supplies to repair it himself when it broke. If the answer was &quot;no,&quot; he wouldn't buy it. If the answer was &quot;You don't need to worry about it, Mr. Yeager. This will never break,&quot; Gramps would thank the salesman politely and walk away, rather than accuse him of being a bald-faced liar. As Grandpa Clyde was fond of saying, &quot;Automatic means you can't fix it yourself,&quot; and he wanted nothing to do with it.</p> <p>Unfortunately, times have changed since Clyde's day. We now live in a world of <a href="">planned obsolescence</a> and one in which it costs more to repair most items &mdash; if they can be repaired at all &mdash; than to replace them. That's not only costing us more, but it's a massive waste of the earth's resources. America's nearly 2,000 landfills stand as sad monuments to our throw-away culture.</p> <p>But sometimes it still pays &mdash; financially, and of course environmentally &mdash; to <a href="">repair rather than replace</a>, even if you're not as handy as Clyde and have to pay someone else to repair it for you. Here are some rules of thumb about whether to repair or replace. (See also: <a href="">Should You Repair a Dripping Faucet?</a>)</p> <h3>The 50% Rule</h3> <p>Financial pundits often talk about the &quot;50% rule&quot; when deciding whether or not it's more cost effective to repair an item rather than replace it. The conventional wisdom was that if a repair was estimated to cost 50% or less than the amount you paid for an item, it was usually better to have it repaired. This is still a good guide to keep in mind, although many consumer products (e.g. electronics, furniture, appliances, even clothing) have continually dropped in price (in inflation adjusted dollars) in recent generations. So now, to be more accurate, the 50% rule should be based on replacement value, not original purchase price, or even on the estimated current market value or resale value of major items like automobiles. Regardless, it's simply one rule of thumb among many other considerations.</p> <h3>Appreciating Appreciation</h3> <p>Before you decide to replace something instead of have it repaired, carefully consider whether the item you're thinking about trashing might appreciate in value over time. In the case of a well-made piece of furniture that is likely to become an antique, the choice to repair it is probably obvious. But it may not always be so apparent &mdash; when they needed repair, I wanted so badly to pitch those clunky old stereo speakers my dad passed along to me when I was a teen and buy some trendy new (cheap) ones at Kmart. But Dad wouldn't let me; now those JBL speakers are classics and worth nearly as much as my 401(k) (sadly, in that sense).</p> <h3>Around the House</h3> <p>Well-made, older <a href="">appliances</a> may be worth the cost of repair (if you can still find parts and someone to do the work), but you need to factor in that most older appliances use considerably more energy than newer models (see <a target="_blank" href=""></a>), so in the end it's often more cost effective to replace them when they need repair. On the other hand, replacing older windows in your home (if they're still in serviceable condition) with more energy efficient ones may not be a smart investment, taking a good many years in most instances to recoup the significant upfront investment. What about the roof over your head? Investing in maintenance and even fairly major roof repairs to prolong the life of a roof &mdash; provided that it's in generally sound condition &mdash; is often more cost effective, particularly for larger roof surfaces.</p> <h3>Rags or Riches</h3> <p>When it comes to clothing, the priority should be on taking proper care of it (<a href="">don't use the clothes dryer</a>!) to make it last rather than investing in repairing it. Because most non-designer clothing is relatively inexpensive, it's usually cheaper to buy something new once <a href="">garments become threadbare</a>. Even if you put on a few pounds, tailoring garments usually only makes financial sense with higher-end apparel items, unless you're a seamstress yourself.</p> <h3>Is It Plugged In?</h3> <p>A friend of mine who owns an electronics repair business once told me that nearly half of all the items people bring into his shop are simply suffering from a faulty electrical cord, plug, or other connection problem, or something else with a simple fix like cleaning out an air filter or replacing a worn-out belt. If that's the case, then repairing it will save you major currency (get it?). But, if it's something more major and requires special parts, even my friend admits that most new electronics are so inexpensive that it's probably not worth the fix.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The common line is that it&#039;s better to repair than replace, but that&#039;s not always true. Here&#039;s how to figure out what you should do when something breaks. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align: left; "><em>This post from the&nbsp;</em><a href=""><em>Green Cheapskate</em></a><em>&nbsp;by Jeff Yeager is republished with the permission of&nbsp;</em><a href=""><em>The Daily Green</em></a><em>. Check out more great content from&nbsp;The Daily Green:</em></p> <div> <div> <ul> <li><a href=""><em>30+ Ways to Save Money By Going Green</em></a></li> <li><a href=""><em>10 Ways to Save Money On Gas Without Replacing Your Car</em></a></li> <li><a href=""><em>Top 10 Weird Uses of Vodka</em></a></li> <li><a href=""><em>6 Safe Green Investments</em></a></li> <li><a href=""><em>How to Pay 50 Cents (or Less) for a Gallon of Gas</em></a></li> </ul> </div> </div> <div>&nbsp;</div> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jeff Yeager</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Shopping appliances appreciation repairs replacing stuff Mon, 21 Nov 2011 11:36:18 +0000 Jeff Yeager 792183 at Upgrade Your Home Decor for Less <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/upgrade-your-home-decor-for-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Man on new couch" title="Man on new couch" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>On our road to a life of frugality, there are many things we tend to ignore and go without in order to keep making ends meet. One area that we often neglect in order to keep the bills paid and food on the table is the interior of our homes. We may like to watch home makeover shows, but are resistant to actually working on our own homes.</p> <p>Avocado appliances and ugly wallpaper patterns of yesteryear may seem like mainstays, but even if you don&rsquo;t have a ton of spare cash lying around, there are still economical ways to update your home's look. Here are some tips for creating an updated look for your home without breaking your budget. (See also: <a href="">15 Home Decorating Ideas for Under $5</a>)</p> <h2>Change the Wallpaper</h2> <p>A gallon or two of paint may be acceptable to your wallet, but if you want to update your home&rsquo;s look with high-quality wallpaper, it can be harder to justify the cost. The way to still add style without overspending is to find a fabric mill that makes the wallpaper. These mills will typically offer wallpaper of all kinds for 40-50% off the wholesale price. Discontinued patterns from retailers may also be an option if you are willing to be more open-minded about the kind of paper or style you want.</p> <p>You can also save yourself a lot of time if you can learn how to hang the paper yourself. Check with your local home improvement store to see if they offer DIY classes to get you started.</p> <h2>Upgrade Your Floors</h2> <p>There are many user-friendly options when it comes to flooring choices. Check first with flooring wholesalers by calling them directly to inquire about deals. Many wholesale companies also have websites that offer limited-time deals, especially when the amount of flooring you need is greater than 1,000 square feet.</p> <p>If you are looking for carpeting, check with local carpet and home improvement stores for discounted or unwanted carpeting that is already cut. Several discount stores also offer great deals on carpeting. It may be difficult to get carpeting from such locations if you have an odd-sized room, but it can pay off to look or call around for the dimensions you need. If you are looking for throw rugs, keep in mind that those you find in retail stores are typically marked up as much as 600%, so consider shopping at second-hand or discount stores to score some more affordable ones.</p> <h2>Replace the Old Appliances</h2> <p>The first place you should look when considering <a href="">new appliances</a> is the clearance aisles at home improvement stores. You might not have a large number of options, but you can certainly find a deal on unused-but-returned items. If you keep coming back, you are likely to find at least one appliance you&rsquo;ve been looking for, and you may be able to update all of your appliances for well below regular cost.</p> <p>Another good idea is find a contractor you know and ask where they get their appliances. If they can recommend a good wholesale location, you may be able to get exactly what you are looking for at a reasonable price. Don&rsquo;t discount second-hand shops either. There are many reasons why people get rid of items, and you might be able to find a diamond in the rough &mdash; or at least something more updated and more energy-efficient than what you currently have in your home.</p> <h2>Update Your Curtains</h2> <p>A few simple curtain and drapery changes can make a whole room look updated. Check online at sites like eBay for draperies and curtains. There are plenty of people who have buyer's remorse when it comes to these items, and they are apt to resell plenty that are still in the packages. In other scenarios, consumers make mistakes in sizing or colors and don&rsquo;t feel like returning them to the store. You may find exactly what you are looking for, or even new ideas.</p> <p>When it comes to updating a home, remember that the little changes can often make a big change too, so keep your eyes out for <a href="">picture frames</a> and other wall hangings that go on clearance throughout the year. But the most important advice of all is to, sit down and establish a budget for yourself so you&rsquo;ll know exactly how much you can spend before you even make your first purchase. Once you get into the process of updating, it can be easy to get carried away. Establish your budget early on so you can be sure you can afford the upgrades and not have to rely on extended credit to cover your project costs. Work towards paying in cash for your purchases, and you&rsquo;ll likely enjoy the completed makeover way more than if you get inundated with bills each month.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Upgrade Your Home Decor for Less" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tisha Tolar</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home affordable decor appliances home improvement Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:48:30 +0000 Tisha Tolar 717239 at 8 Simple Ways to Make Your Refrigerator More Efficient <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-simple-ways-to-make-your-refrigerator-more-efficient" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="refrigerator energy" title="refrigerator energy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My friend Fabulous Frank is always coming up with neat ideas and inventions; one of his best designs boasts a refrigerator with a glass door on it. And while that may mean some extra-tough cleanups, just think of the one glorious advantage it offers: &quot;Every time you go to check the fridge,&quot; he says, &quot;you wouldn't have to open the door to see what's inside.&quot; Which, of course, means less energy wasted.</p> <p>Until Fab Frank's fridge becomes a regular consumer option, we have our work cut out for us. Even if you have an EnergyStar refrigerator, you know these big appliances still eat electricity &mdash; about 500 kilowatt-hours per year even for the stingier models. The question is, can we improve on that? You betcha. Below are some tips for making fridges (both standard and EnergyStar models) run more efficiently. And we'll start with a tip that comes courtesy of Frank himself. (See also: <a href="" title="8 Ways to Save Big on Appliances">8 Ways to Save Big on Appliances</a>)</p> <h2>1. Open the Door Less Often</h2> <p>Particularly if you have kids, you know fridge doors get opened dozens and dozens of times a day. Whenever that happens, warm air rushes in, making it harder for your appliance to keep cool. Leave the doors open longer than two minutes, and you're putting strain on the fridge. So until they invent glass doors, do what you can to limit how often and how long your doors get yanked open. With shopping trips, I lump all the refrigerated items into one big pile and then load up as fast as possible. Try determining how much time you need to shave off your loading time with this <a title="electronic clock timer" href="">Presto Electronic Clock &amp; Timer</a> (<em>$10.68 with free shipping via Amazon Prime</em>).</p> <h2>2. Pack It Up, Baby</h2> <p>After each shopping trip, I love to stuff the fridge &mdash; and there's a reason besides the fact that many Italian Americans like myself do this. A full fridge means that there's less hot air that needs cooling. Of course, a stuffed fridge means poor air circulation, and any well-stocked cooler begs to be opened many times. But so long as you police your clan from peeking out of boredom (or swinging on the handles) you should come out ahead on the energy-savings side.</p> <h2>3. A Freezer on Top is Tops</h2> <p>For those of you considering a new fridge, keep in mind that not all EnergyStar models are created equal. The <a title="EnergyStar refrigerators" href=";pgw_code=RF">government's EnergyStar website</a> reports, &quot;Models with top-mounted freezers use 10% to 25% less energy than bottom-mount or side-by-side models.&quot; Besides, a bottom-mounted freezer means stooping over to get the Haagen-Dazs, which isn't exactly my idea of how to launch an indulgent dessert experience. The <a title="top freezer refrigerator" href=";productId=202822214&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10053">GE Top Freezer Refrigerator</a> in White or <a title="black top freezer refrigerator" href=";productId=202933768&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10053">Black</a> (<em>$448 via code &quot;APP50B2&quot; with free shipping</em>) is an inexpensive option that fits the bill.</p> <h2>4. Chill Out on the Ice-Cube Maker</h2> <p>Maybe we could stand to learn something from the Europeans, who don't take ice in their drinks. Icemakers and through-the-door dispensers not only increase a refrigerator's price by up to $250, they also increase energy use by 14% to 20%, EnergyStar figures show. So if you have an icemaker, why not give it a rest? And if you really need crushed ice, consider the merits of these <a title="ice cube trays" href="">Tovolo Perfect-Cube Ice Trays</a> (<em>two for $14.99 with $3.99 s&amp;h</em>) and a hammer.</p> <h2>5. Location, Location, Location</h2> <p>This one comes courtesy of our friends at <a title="" href=""></a>, who point out that a fridge shouldn't rest close to obvious hotspots. &quot;Place your fridge away from your oven, stove top, radiator, or other heat sources, and make sure there are a few inches of space around it. The unit can nestle, but it shouldn't abut walls, counters, or other appliances.&quot; I suppose that means no cold storage for my Twinkie flambé, either.</p> <h2>6. Check the Seals and the Frost</h2> <p>Just as leaky window and door seals yield a <a href="" title="7 DIY Tips to Winterize Your Home for Cheap">drafty house</a>, a fridge with bad seals around the doors can't do its job well. If your seals have suffered from wear or damage, check out <a title="RepairClinic" href="">RepairClinic</a>, which stocks just about every type of replacement part for large appliances. As for the frost side, it's a good idea to periodically defrost your freezer, as that will help it work better. If you see more than a quarter-inch of frost all the way around, it's time.</p> <h2>7. Clean Those Coils</h2> <p>Dust is the enemy of many large appliances, from air conditioners to stereo systems. In the latter, dust blocking the vents can cause overheating, and dust on the coils of your fridge forces it to work harder. Getting in back of that monster may conjure visions of an emergency room visit, but tidying up isn't hard if you consult a reliable resource, like your appliance manual. A vacuum with a <a title="crevice attachment" href=";productId=100074040&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10053">crevice attachment</a> is crucial, as is a small brush (like a paint brush) to reach more troublesome areas. Your efforts will not only keep the fridge working better, but also preserve its longevity.</p> <h2>8. Pick the Right Temperature</h2> <p>Going colder than the preferred temperature wastes electricity, and for refrigerators, that ranges between 35 and 38 degrees, according to <a title="" href=""></a>. There are other benefits as well to sticking in this range: &quot;Anything higher and foods will spoil too quickly (it also presents food poisoning problems). Anything lower and freezing becomes a problem.&quot;</p> <p>Common to all these tips is one overarching principle: habit. Once you get in the habit of checking on the appliances you take for granted, they'll reward you in kind with extended years of service and extra savings in the bank &mdash; all while making a dent in your carbon footprint.</p> <p><em>This post is by <a href="" title="Dealnews">Dealnews</a>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Even if you have an EnergyStar refrigerator, these big appliances still eat electricity. Here are some tips for making fridges run more efficiently. </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Dealnews</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Home appliances energy efficiency kitchen refrigerator Mon, 22 Aug 2011 10:24:18 +0000 Dealnews 671095 at Life Without a Microwave <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/life-without-a-microwave" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Broken microwave" title="Broken microwave" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I have lived without a microwave for over 10 years now, and I don't miss it. When I moved into my first apartment after college, I was a vegan and very strict about my lifestyle choices. There was just something unsettling about nuking my food, so I chose to equip my kitchen without a microwave. Although I'm less neurotic now (and enjoy eating a rare steak and then diving into a pint of Ben and Jerry's afterwards), I still think that food isn't as flavorful if it's cooked in a microwave. Plus, cooking without a microwave encourages fewer TV dinners and healthier eating habits.</p> <p>Coming from a family who used the microwave all the time, I had to make some adjustments after no longer having this convenience. Now I don't even think about it unless I am entertaining a guest who wants to know where the microwave is. I also learned to appreciate cooking after making the transition to a microwave-free life, since it sort of forced me to slow down whenever I was in the kitchen. Not to get too Zen on you, but there are many larger benefits to tossing your microwave. If you thought you could never live without one, consider these alternatives to the most common uses for microwaves. (See also: <a href="">7 Ways to Make the Most of a Tiny Kitchen</a>)</p> <h3>Heat Leftovers in a Toaster Oven</h3> <p>I didn't own a toaster oven until a few years ago. I thought it was one of those pointless appliances taking up more counter space, especially since I already had a toaster. But if you are considering life without a microwave, a toaster oven will make your transition much easier. For me, it is essential for heating up leftovers and making anything I want to melt cheese on. You could always use the oven, but it takes a lot less energy and time to heat up a toaster oven.</p> <p>Because toaster ovens are small, you may have to find the right containers to heat your leftovers in. I use a mini bread pan, which fits perfectly if I take out the top rack. I wouldn't recommend using your dishes, unless they are safe in high temps. I also like to use it to make mini pizzas, melted cheese sandwiches, and cinnamon toast. A toaster oven is more versatile than a microwave in that respect, since the bread would get soggy in the microwave. You don't have to spend a fortune on one either, especially if you are a bargain hunter. I found mine at a thrift store for ten bucks, and aside from some of my favorite albums, it's probably the best ten dollars I've ever spent.</p> <h3>Warm Drinks and Food on the Stove</h3> <p>This may seem like an obvious one for things like soup, but what about when you want to warm up your coffee or tea? I simply pour my beverage into a pot and warm it up, which does require washing another dish. Still, I find that I can control the heat better than sticking my mug in the microwave, which I do occasionally when I'm at a friend's house and I don't want to seem too odd for pulling out the pots and pans. I always end up having to put it back in the microwave because it isn't hot enough. On the stove, you can easily tell when it is at the temp you want.</p> <p>This method is ideal for quickly heating up leftovers as well, and using the stove also encourages recreating your leftovers, since you've already pulled out all your cooking utensils. Now you can get creative and make an entirely new meal that will take you less time than your original creation.</p> <h3>Use Cold Water to Defrost Meat</h3> <p>If you are one of those people (like me) who forgets to take the meat out of the freezer the night before you want to cook it, you can use the cold water method. It might not be as fast as using a microwave, but it will thaw the meat more evenly. Put the meat in a watertight bag and submerse it in cold water. Make sure the water stays cold, and if the meat takes longer than 30 minutes to defrost, be sure to change the water to keep it cool. It really depends on the size and how frozen the meat is. It could take close to an hour, but you could use that time to make other preparations as well.</p> <p>To speed up the process, you can put the meat under running cold water and flip it from side to side, though this does waste more water. Someone recently suggested putting the meat in a washing machine in cold water on the gentle cycle, since it's the agitation that helps defrost the meat faster. I've yet to try this method, but if you are going to venture out, I'd say just be careful and keep the lid open so you can watch the meat and stop it before the spin cycle &mdash; that could be quite a mess in the end. Either way, make sure to use cold water and change it often if you are soaking larger quantities.</p> <h3>Make Popcorn on the Stove</h3> <p>This is the one savory snack that comes to mind for my houseguests when they discover that there's no microwave in my kitchen. Our Senior Editor has the bases covered on <a href="">how to make your own popcorn</a>. I would only add that I've found that using a heavier pot works the best, and it's important to clean it completely if you are going for a second batch. Otherwise, the kernels tend to stick. Another advantage to consider is that you can get more creative with stovetop popcorn. Try adding some nutritional yeast instead of butter (another throwback from my vegan days). Or go exotic with a little curry powder and cinnamon. I'm a traditionalist for the most part, so I tend to just add salt. But the possibilities are endless when it doesn't come from a bag, not to mention healthier. How many times have you eaten an entire bag of popcorn? You can also control your portion sizes when you pop on the stove.</p> <p>Ultimately, life without a microwave helps remind me how fast-paced life in our culture can be sometimes. Not having the convenience of the two-minute meal is a blessing if you think about it that way. Slowing down and savoring every part of the meal, from preparing it to eating it, is just one simple way to really appreciate and enjoy the rare moments of peace most of us get throughout the busy work week. And there are plenty of ways to do it without a microwave.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Life Without a Microwave" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Watson</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink appliances kitchen hacks microwave Thu, 07 Jul 2011 10:24:58 +0000 Ashley Watson 610962 at How to Clean Your Dishwasher <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-clean-your-dishwasher" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Dog and dishwasher" title="Dog and dishwasher" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I was in the grocery store the other day when I noticed a cleaning product recommended to keep dishwashers &quot;clean&quot; and running smoothly. I have to admit that I only recently had the privilege of having a dishwasher in my kitchen. Most of my life, <em>I</em> was the dishwasher, and I was really not up to speed on maintaining the appliance. I presumed that as the dishes were cleaned with detergent and water, so too was my dishwasher.</p> <p>Doing some research, I realized that I didn&rsquo;t need the high-priced solution intended to prevent my dishwasher from breaking down. I did, however, need to do a few extra bits of cleaning to make sure I maintained my new-to-me appliance. (See also: <a href="">8 Tasks You Shouldn't Skip During Spring Cleaning</a>)</p> <h3>Remove the Food</h3> <p>Consider the condition of the dishes and silverware you put in your dishwasher each day. While it is highly recommended that you first scrape plates to prevent leftovers from going in the dishwasher, most dishwasher owners are guilty of not being as thorough as they could be. As a result, food particles and other materials get caught up in the drainage system of the dishwasher, causing blockage of water and ultimately leading to the demise of your appliance. (See also: <a href="">The 5 Best Dishwashers</a>)</p> <h3>Clean Seals</h3> <p>Seals that prevent your dishwasher from leaking water all over your kitchen floor tend to break down over time. One of the main reasons this breakdown occurs is due to the bleaching ingredients contained in most dishwasher gels. For this reason, it is wise to use powdered detergent to protect the life of your dishwasher components. You can help prevent breakdown also by regularly cleaning seals around the door with a toothbrush and hot, soapy water. The toothbrush will help reach the small areas sponges will not. Around the seal and the drain are areas particularly susceptible to buildup of damaging debris.</p> <h3>Clean the Drain</h3> <p>You&rsquo;ll need to remove the bottom rack of your dishwasher to access the drain. First, check for any obvious blockage and remove it. Then use a clean sponge to wipe around the drain area.</p> <h3>Add Vinegar</h3> <p>Add a cup of <a href="">white vinegar</a> to the empty dishwasher. Run the dishwasher on the hottest water setting possible. The vinegar will help remove the debris and grease left inside the appliance. It also has the added benefit of removing the musty, mildewy smell from inside the dishwasher.</p> <h3>Add Baking Soda</h3> <p>After using the vinegar to sanitize the inside of the dishwasher, you can also sprinkle baking soda on the base of the dishwasher and run the hottest cycle once again. The baking soda will help freshen the smell of the dishwasher as well as brighten up the look of the inside of your appliance by removing stains.</p> <p>Incorporate this dishwasher maintenance into your regular <a href="">heavy-duty cleaning schedule </a>to avoid high-cost repairs and not have to worry about having a dirty, foul-smelling dishwasher in your kitchen.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Clean Your Dishwasher" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tisha Tolar</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home appliances cleaning dishwasher Mon, 04 Jul 2011 10:24:12 +0000 Tisha Tolar 600371 at 8 Ways to Save Big on Appliances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-to-save-big-on-appliances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I've had the dubious distinction of saving some big bucks on multiple types of appliances this year. I say dubious because I'd rather not have had to buy anything new at all, but when opportunities presented themselves, I did some &quot;defensive&quot; purchasing to capture the best deals on my terms, rather than going to a retailer in an emergency situation. Specifically, our dishwasher was on its last legs and our refrigerator was reaching the end of its useful life. There are some key discoveries and strategies I'd like to share on how I saved well over a thousand dollars on just these two appliances and how you can too. (See also: <a href="">Save Money on Appliances at any Time of Year</a>)</p> <h3>1. Scratch-and-Dent Discounts</h3> <p>I joke about the &quot;$1,000 light bulb trip,&quot; because I went to Lowe's to pick up some odds and ends and left with a refrigerator. But what a great deal! It was a Saturday morning, and they had about a dozen new appliances out front with various forms of dings and dents. The model I was interested was a loaded $2,800 Samsung stainless fridge with a dent on the side. I couldn't believe it! $1,800 off for a dent on the side. The bonus is that we have a side panel in our kitchen that would cover the dent entirely, so it'd be completely invisible to us.</p> <p>The units were going quickly, so I had to buy it on the spot. Once inside, I asked a sales guy how often they did this sort of thing. He said it's kind of random, but a good suggestion was to just call around to various stores each Saturday morning, especially around holidays, and ask if they were putting out scratch-and-dent units on display. They seem to unload them in bulk. So if you're in the market for a new appliance and don't mind a some minor visual &quot;character,&quot; you can easily save 30%-60% off the list price by calling ahead and being ready to act.</p> <h3>2. Holiday Weekend Sales</h3> <p>Aside from using holidays to put out the scratch-and-dent models, virtually all retailers offer some sort of sales incentives around various holidays. They know their competitors are doing it, and people often waste a day shopping since we don't really celebrate President's Day or Memorial Day like we used to. If you're in need of a new appliance but can stick it out until the next holiday, it may well be worth it. Black Friday isn't the only day of the year with great deals. You can score some decent discounts without the madness on a less traveled holiday.</p> <h3>3. Comparison Sites</h3> <p>While it seems like common sense for anyone who's web-savvy, I'm often surprised to hear about purchases that people made without actually using online comparison sites. There are dozens out there, so I won't list them all, but a few simple searches on the likes of <a href="">Google's Products Page</a>, <a href="">PriceGrabber</a>, or even <a href=""></a>&nbsp;will often reveal redundant or very close pricing. Impulse buying often squashes such opportunities, but these days, with smartphone apps like <a href="">ShopSavvy</a> and the <a href=";docId=1000291661">Amazon app</a> or some simple advanced planning, there's no excuse for paying more than the cheapest price a major retailer is offering.</p> <h3>4. Cash for Appliances</h3> <p>There's been very little press on Cash for Appliances of late. During the economic crisis, the administration passed legislation allowing states to offer discounts for various energy-efficient appliances. The programs will run until states deplete the cash allotted to them from the federal stimulus program. People tend to think that only the <a href="">2011 energy tax credit</a> survived into the new year, but that was actually different legislation than these state programs for energy-star rated home appliances. Some states have closed their programs due to the depletion of their allotted funding, but many are still in play as of the time of this writing. Check out the <a href="">Energy Savers</a>&nbsp;website to see if your state is offering rebates on common appliances. Many people probably bought appliances in the past year without even knowing they were eligible for a rebate!</p> <h3>5. Utility Rebates</h3> <p>Aside from Cash for Appliances, which at least got some press during the stimulus debate, would you have thought that your local utility gives out rebates to consumers for using less power? It's like a grocery store giving out rebates to buy less produce! As odd as it seems, given how utilities are regulated and governed, this is somewhat common. I found this out when a Lowe's sales rep mentioned it at checkout. We have PECO in our area, and they gave me a $75 rebate check I wasn't even planning on. All I had to do was fill out a simple form. Just visit the website of your utility company to see if they have a similar offering, and you may be surprised.</p> <h3>6. Exploit Model Updates</h3> <p>I'm a big fan of Consumer Reports and subscribe to their print magazine. Any time I'm in the market for a gadget or new appliance, I go back and check out the rating and buy a top rated model or a &quot;Best Buy.&quot; What I often find, though, is that new models are launched so frequently that by the time I buy an appliance, the models they ranked are either obsolete already or on their way out. If it's timed right, however, these top-rated models are sold at huge discounts to make way for the replacement model in the same family. Often times this just means a slightly altered exterior or minor upgrade that you wouldn't even miss. Given the choice between paying $350 for a top-rated dishwasher model from six months ago versus $550 for a newly launched model with the same performance, I'll take the $350 any day! So, keep your eye on overlap in the stores. Often it's just a change in the last letter of the model number, or the salesperson will just tell you they're phasing out a particular model. (See also: <a href="">The 5 Best Dishwashers</a>)</p> <h3>7. Skip the Extended Warranty</h3> <p>Warranties are usually a bad investment &mdash; especially when you spread many such offerings from multiple purchases over time. There are a select few circumstances where a <a href="">warranty is a good deal</a>, but in general, they're big money-makers for retailers and salespeople and a net loser for the consumer. After all, if the consumer benefited from warranty pricing, would they even be offered? I know, it's painful to picture that new appliance going at one week past the standard one-year warranty included with your purchase, but over time, if you compare what you would have paid for EVERY extended warranty opportunity versus what you've saved for NEVER buying the extended warranty, there's no doubt you'd be better off in the long run having never purchased an extended warranty.&nbsp;</p> <h3>8. Haggle!</h3> <p>Contrary to what you may be hearing about a &quot;recovery,&quot; we're not buzzing along like we have been during prior recoveries. Unemployment is still at 9%, while millions of Americans have simply dropped out of the workforce. So retailers are looking to make sales knowing there's a lot less cash and credit out there than in the good ol' days. There's nothing wrong with some good old-fashioned <a href="">haggling</a>. Some common lines I use include &quot;OK, I see your list price is $250. What can you sell it for?&quot; and &quot;Can you take $200 for it?&quot; Whatever line you need to use, even if it's just a bit outside your comfort zone, it's worth it. What's the worst thing that happens? They say no. Sometimes floor associates aren't qualified to agree to a discount on the spot, but they'll often go find a manager who is. There's a commission on the line after all.</p> <p><em>What are some of your appliance-purchase tips?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Ways to Save Big on Appliances" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Darwins Money</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Shopping articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping appliances cash for appliances holiday sales household goods Thu, 03 Mar 2011 13:00:11 +0000 Darwins Money 498333 at Save Money on Appliances at any Time of Year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-money-on-appliances-at-any-time-of-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-dealista-file"> <div class="field-label">Dealista MP3:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank">Dealista #34: How to Save Money on Appliances</a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This article shares tips from the newest episode of </em><a href=""><em>Dealista</em></a><em>, our podcast that'll help you get more for less.</em></p> <p>Many of you will have tax refunds coming, and that may lead to you look into buying a replacement for that old fridge or dishwasher that&rsquo;s been giving you grief. Before you run out and buy the first thing you see, however, take a minute to run through these tips. They could save you a bundle!</p> <h2>Hit the Holidays</h2> <p>While most retail experts concur that September and October are the best months to buy, many can&rsquo;t wait until the biggest sales of the year to replace a worn-out appliance. The next best thing is to purchase during a holiday. While the major ones can offer huge discounts (Christmas and Fourth of July, most notably), the less celebrated weekends can be a good opportunity to score a great deal, as well. Snag sale flyers for the upcoming Mother&rsquo;s and Memorial Days and use you price matching skills to get a super price, wherever you shop!</p> <h2>Less-Than-Perfect Equals &ldquo;Perfect&rdquo; Pricing</h2> <p>Just two weeks after my cherry red frontloading washer and dryer set were delivered to my home, my husband accidentally put a large scratch in the paint of one of them. Was I upset? Not really. The pair still work like a champ, and they look great in my otherwise drab laundry room. The lesson that I took away from the experience is that things get bumped, dented, and dinged. (And usually within just a few days from purchase, if you have a rowdy household like mine.) So why not buy something that&rsquo;s <em>already</em> a bit scuffed up and score a 10-15% discount on it?</p> <p>Not all stores as forthcoming about their &ldquo;scratch and dent&rdquo; sales, and others shout it from the mountains (only to present their buyers with prices that were inflated to begin with). Get to know the market value for your future purchase, and request that the discount accurately reflects it. Also, if you don&rsquo;t see a section for &ldquo;scratch and dents&rdquo; at your local retailer, inquire about it. Sometimes, they are just hiding in the back for someone to claim them!</p> <h2>Save Big at Big Box Stores</h2> <p>We&rsquo;ve already discussed how <a href=""><strong>warehouse stores</strong></a> may or may not be a great deal for you. When it comes to appliances, however, they can surprise you with some occasional bargains that compete with traditional stores. Since they don&rsquo;t usually honor price matches, what you see is often what you get. Don&rsquo;t forget to shop online at the club website to see about using coupon codes and getting free shipping.&nbsp;The combination of both could be well worth it!</p> <h2>Skip Rental Stores</h2> <p>While it may seem appealing to pay just $20 a week for that new air-conditioner, what you may not be drawn to is the ridiculous amount of interest that rent-to-own stores charge their customers. Since these types of retailers thrive on purchasers that don&rsquo;t have access to more traditional lines of credit (or even cash), they can get customers in with their low weekly rates (and sometimes an extra gift), before extracting a significant amount of interest over the life of the loan. Get the full amount (interest included) before you buy, or better yet&hellip;use more traditional lines of credit if you absolutely must charge it.</p> <h2>Use Craigslist</h2> <p>Yes, I <a href="">love this site</a> for just about everything, including appliances. We don&rsquo;t just recommend it for used stuff, either. In fact, many times you can find low prices on brand new appliances by being a bit savvy in your search. Dealers sometimes put their overstocks on <a href="">Craiglist</a> (look for &ldquo;dealer&rdquo; notations to know if you&rsquo;re working with a store and not a private seller), and realtors have been known to offer brand new appliance sets taken out of homes when they don&rsquo;t match the new buyer&rsquo;s tastes. Be prepared to haul your own for deeper discounts.</p> <h2>Look for Remodels</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;re frustrated that your favorite Walmart, Target, or Sears has been tore up in anticipation of a remodel, don&rsquo;t be! It might mean that many items will soon go on deep clearance, and appliances could be on that list. Since a remodel also often means that entire product lines will be replaced, the existing models (even floor models) will have to go &mdash; soon! Check back often at your remodeled store to watch prices fall, but don&rsquo;t wait too long. (And remember the rule: One retailer in an area being remodeled may mean the others in the same chain will be, too. Call to find out when you can expect this to occur, and get their early before the good deals are gone!)</p> <p><em><a href="">Dealista</a> is a collaboration between Wise Bread and <a href="">Quick and Dirty Tips</a>, the producer of popular podcasts such as <a href="">Grammar Girl</a>, <a href="">Money Girl</a>, <a href="">Winning Investor</a>, and <a href="">Mighty Mommy</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you enjoyed these tips you can find more in <a href="">our show's archive</a>.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Save Money on Appliances at any Time of Year" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Shopping articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Shopping appliances bargains dealista Wed, 21 Apr 2010 13:00:07 +0000 Linsey Knerl 35552 at Cash for Appliances: Get a Cash Rebate for Buying New Appliances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cash-for-appliances-get-a-cash-rebate-for-buying-new-appliances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="129" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Last year the Cash for Clunkers program gave out billions of dollars in rebates for purchasing new cars. This spring a smaller rebate program called Cash for Appliances is rolling out as part of the stimulus package. Consumers can get cash rebates for purchasing energy efficient household appliances to replace old appliances.</p> <p>This program actually differs from state to state so you must check the <a href="">Department of Energy's website</a> to see what your state is offering. Right now several states already ran out of funding because it is turning out to be quite popular. For example, the information for Iowa says that the program started on March 1, 2010 in Iowa and ended later that day. However, there is still time for residents of many other states where the program has not started yet. Nevertheless, it is best to check when the program is starting in your state and apply as soon as possible.</p> <p>Unlike Cash for Clunkers, you do not have to turn in your old appliance to the store where you purchase something new, but some states do require that you show proof that you recycled the old appliance. Some other states simply encourage recycling or give a larger rebate if you show proof of recycling. Everyone participating in the program is supposed to be replacing an old inefficient appliance, so those who are buying a new appliance for a new home would not qualify for this program.</p> <p>The new appliance must be Energy Star qualified and some states have more specific energy efficiency guidelines. For example, The Arizona Energy Office's <a href="">rebate page</a> shows that some models of appliances that are even more efficient than the Energy Star models can get a larger rebate. So once again you should read the details of your state's rules and go to the store with the criteria in mind. In most states this program is not retroactive, and that means you have to make your purchase once the program starts.</p> <p>The amount of rebates differ from state to state. From what I have read so far most states are giving a fairly generous rebate even if the dollar amount seems small. This is because the rebates cover a good portion of the consumer's cost for the the appliance purchase. For example, if you buy a $400 washer and get a $200 rebate, then you are getting that washer for 50% off and that is a great deal.</p> <p>The bottom line is that if you have an old appliance in your home that needs replacing then it is definitely worthwhile to look up the rules for this program and participate. You will be able to save a bit on the initial purchase of the new appliance and also save energy in the years you use it. Personally I think this rebate program will turn out to be much more beneficial to the environment than the Cash for Clunkers program at a smaller cost. This program is also much more accessible since appliances are a lot cheaper than cars.</p> <p><em>What do you think? Will you be replacing your old appliances?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Cash for Appliances: Get a Cash Rebate for Buying New Appliances" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Xin Lu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Shopping appliances Mon, 15 Mar 2010 14:00:02 +0000 Xin Lu 5818 at