11:52 AM

Shop Smart for Large Appliances

I can almost hear my daddy saying, “The best time to shop for a car is when the one you have quits running.”

I’m of the opinion that’s the best time to shop for kitchen appliances, too. Why replace something that still works?

My stove has been in the kitchen since the house was built in 1982. That’s when we bought it new — for 50 bucks — at a scratch-and-dent sale. The small dent on the side wasn’t visible when the stove was positioned into place, but it was big enough to knock off the bulk of the price.

When I remodeled the kitchen five years ago, a friend tried to talk me into buying a new stove since I was updating almost everything. I refused. The electric stove worked fine then, and it works fine now. It’s only needed one repair; it took $12 to replace a surface element that burned out. So, in the past 36 years, my stove has cost $62 (excluding the cost of energy), and it still works like a champ.

While I’m bound to drive it ’til it drops dead, some people prefer to swap cars — or kitchen appliances — when newer models with fancy features come out. And that’s cool, too. Just be sure to shop smartly.

The fall is the optimal time to buy most major appliances, according to Kiplinger.com and Consumer Reports. This is when manufacturers introduce new models, making it necessary to discount the previous year’s versions in order to make space for new models that arrive later in the season. Generally, many stores kick-off their autumn appliance deals on Labor Day weekend.

While autumn is premium for most large appliance shopping, you’ll find the best deals on a fridge in May. Refrigerator manufacturers introduce their new models in the spring, leading retailers to slash prices on older models. For the best deals, wait for Memorial Day weekend sales. Holidays in general are great times to shop for discounted appliances, whether it’s Memorial Day, Labor Day or President’s Day weekend.

When shopping for large appliances, remember that energy efficient models may cost more at purchase, but they’ll save money on your power bill, so the upfront investment may be worth it in the long run. And no matter when you shop for appliances, be sure to compare prices. Peruse the ads and go online to check out deals at local stores. Compare prices at online sites, but don’t forget to factor in shipping and delivery charges.

Chances are your stove won’t die in September and your fridge won’t fail in May — at the prime times for catching new ones on sale. You might save more cash, anyway, by purchasing gently used models. Look for good deals on Craigslist and your community’s online yard sale site. Do some homework to see what’s available in your area, and you may score a slightly-used, great performing appliance at a bargain price.

If you do visit a mom-and-pop appliance shop or one of the big box stores, be sure to ask about scratch-and-dents. You could be patting yourself on the back years from now for such a smart buy.

Jackie Kennedy has worked with Georgia’s electric cooperatives for 24 years, producing newsletters, press releases and articles about the industry or energy-related matters. She is the author of People, Power, Progress: The Story of Jackson EMC, published in 2013. In her blog, she grapples with a variety of energy efficiency topics.