7 Ways to Save Big on Appliances

There are two kinds of appliance shopping: the happy kind and the sad kind. Happy appliance shopping occurs when you're remodeling your kitchen, or you know that your washer and dryer are nearing the end of their life span and you've saved up enough money to upgrade them. Sad appliance shopping happens when you return from vacation to find that your freezer conked out a week ago, or your oven stops working the night before Thanksgiving.

Whether your shopping mood is jubilation or despair, know one thing: You do not have to pay full price, no matter what you're buying. Here are seven ways to save big on appliances.

1. Buy at the right time

The best time to buy an appliance is during a holiday sale. In 2017, Consumer Reports partnered with market research company Gap Intelligence to track prices on ranges, TVs, refrigerators, and dishwashers over the span of a year. They found that the lowest prices coincided with Independence Day, Labor Day, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday, with the biggest price drops occurring on the latter.

Another timing strategy is to wait for a new model to come out, then buy the old model. For most appliances, new models come out in September, October, and January. For refrigerators, it's in the spring. If you're looking for a smart appliance, like a refrigerator you can check using your phone, new models are usually announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, so right after that is a good time to jump on last year's products. (See also: This Is How Long These 6 Appliances Should Last)

2. Shop an outlet

Browse the listings at Sears Outlet, GE Appliance Warehouse, or another factory direct outlet store, and you'll typically see discounts of 15 percent or more off the MSRP. I bought my dryer at Sears Outlet, and I will warn you that I had to work for my savings. One difficulty with an outlet is that while they might have many appliances in stock, they may not have the one you're looking for. They don't always have a lot of customer service people around to answer questions. You might also have to travel out of your way to visit a showroom.

One tactic that can help smooth outlet shopping is to view appliances in the main store showroom, then browse the outlet website for the same model and order it. (See also: 4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances)

3. Buy an imperfect model

This is where doing your research really helps, because every damaged appliance is unique and if you go home to think about it, someone else may buy it.

There are several places to look for scratch-and-dent discounts. At regular home improvement or appliance stores, slightly damaged appliances sell for about 15 percent off, depending on how the damage affects the appliance. If the unit is not already marked down or you think it should be discounted more, ask the manager. Factory outlet stores may have more scratch-and-dents on the floor, and they may also be listed online with their damage described.

4. Comparison shop by phone

It seems antiquated, but Consumers' Checkbook explains that because of agreements with manufacturers that set minimum advertised prices, you might actually get a better deal by calling the major retailers in your area and asking for their best price on the model you want. In their 2015 survey of one California metro area, Costco, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe's were the national chains with the lowest prices, so start with them, and throw in any local retailer who is known for competitive pricing.

Of course, you can also make your inquiry while you're in the store. Whether on the phone or in person, try haggling when the manager tells you the lowest price. You might not think that managers at large chains have the authority to lower the price for you, but they just might.

5. Comparison shop using technology

Appliance stores often advertise standard prices or only tiny discounts as major sales, so don't take their word for it. The easiest way to price check is to look up the exact appliance on Amazon. Or, use a barcode scanning app such as ShopSavvy to compare prices while in the store. Once you know the lowest price offered by any store, ask your store of choice if they will price match, or use this information when haggling. (See also: 28 Ways to Never Pay Full Price for Anything)

6. Don't miss rebates and tax credits

You can input your ZIP code at Energy Star to find rebates offered by your local utility. There is a major push to use more energy-efficient models of every appliance we've come to rely on, and if the models you're interested in buying meet Energy Star's specifications, you could really cash in, all while saving the environment.

Energy Star also lists federal tax credits you can apply for. (See also: 34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill)

7. Skip the extended warranty

Warranties on appliances are usually a bad investment. They're seen as a big profit center for retailers. Most appliances are unlikely to break during the extended warranty period, and if they do, the part that breaks may be excluded from the warranty.

On the other hand, it's a great idea to use a credit card that offers extended warranties as a benefit, since this won't cost you any extra.

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Guest's picture

Best new appliance tips? Don't buy new, period. Craigslist (or something similar) is the best way to go. My last stove cost me $40 and my last washing machine, $75. Both work perfectly fine. They aren't stainless steel or the top of the line models but they are not junk either. Good, solid, quality models that I have had for 5+ years now. I'm always surprised when people on Craigslist sell their old appliances because they are "upgrading". Why waste money on replacing appliances that still work? Their waste, my gain.

Darwins Money's picture

Sure, used is always going to be cheaper. I don't think after putting in a new kitchen I'd be able to sell my wife on used appliances though. Personally, as a practical guy, it would probably work for me!

Guest's picture

Great tips! We are lucky here in KC that we have a JC Penney's Home Store that has a section specifically for scratch and dent appliances.

Darwins Money's picture

That's a gold mine! I remember a Sears scratch and dent in Jersey where I used to live too. No worrying about finding the deals or waiting for the time of month to display - they're always offering deals at S&D!

Guest's picture

Excellent! If I may add...
If you know an appliance is on its last legs, measure it. That way you will be able to know if that clearance special will fit the space the old one is in.

Darwins Money's picture

Funny you mention it. When I was going to snag that fridge, there were a few out front and they were going left and right. I was on the phone with my wife debating over where the tape measure was to measure. She couldn't find it and I'm watching unit after unit go from outside the store. Finally she got one from a neighbor and I snagged the fridge we wanted at the last minute. Save yourself the stress - measure first!

Guest's picture

There's also the Habitat for Humanity Restores -- they offer everything from building materials and home accessories to furniture and appliances at low prices. Some items are new, while others may be gently used. But, all items are donated, keeping them out of the waste stream, and selling these items helps raise money for an important cause.

Guest's picture

Go for malfunction models that perform each function adequately making one appliance do the tasks of two or three appliances. This way you can keep down the kitchen clutter and save money on the number of appliances you need to buy.