If you’re concerned about living green, then you already know that switching to energy-saving household appliances can be a great way not only to curb your electricity and water consumption, but also to save a few bucks on utility bills.
However, buying new appliances can be extremely costly, so it can be difficult to tell whether repairing or replacing is the better solution when an appliance is on the fritz. So, when is the time to pay more now for lesser expense later?
For a long time, the basic guideline for whether to repair or replace an appliance relied on whether the cost of a repair would be greater than half the cost of a replacement: if no, then repair, and if yes, replace. Sounds pretty simple.
But when you factor in modern concerns like the availability of energy-efficient models, the ability to recycle scrapped appliances, the overcrowding of landfills, and the current economic climate, the calculation gets a little more complicated. Read on to discover the questions you should ask yourself when a household appliance breaks.
Is the Item Energy-Efficient?
When your fridge, washer, air conditioner, or other large household appliance dies, check to see whether you’ve got an energy-efficient model. If you do, then in most cases paying for a repair will be the best way to go. You’ve already taken steps to cut down on your energy use, and replacing the appliance with a newer model probably won’t save too much more in water, electricity, or utility costs.
But if the broken appliance is not Energy Star certified, the savings you gain from chucking the old model and purchasing a newer and more efficient model will most likely justify the high cost of replacement.
How Old is the Item?
Know the average lifetimes of your appliances: for most items, 10-15 years is the general guideline. Ovens, ranges, air conditioning units, and water heaters can even last up to 20 years.
If your item is more than halfway through its lifetime, replacing it may be a better option since the next few years may see both an increase in appliance problems and a decrease in appliance efficiency. But if you’ve still got more than half the life of the product still ahead of you, repairing it to get the maximum use is probably the best way to go.
Have You Had Trouble Before?
If the item that’s gone amok has given you trouble in the past, then the current instance will certainly not be the last time you have to pay a repair service. It’s best in this case to cut your losses and shell out for a new – and hopefully better performing – item.
Do You Have a Warranty?
If the broken appliance is still under warranty, check the terms. A repair may be possible at no cost to you. If that’s the case, then a free fix is certainly worth taking advantage of. In some lucky cases, a free replacement may be provided for. If so, try to upgrade to an energy-efficient model if it’s possible. Even if you have to pay a little extra, the energy and cost savings over time will definitely justify it if you’re already saving a bundle with a warranty.
Can You Get an Efficiency Rebate?
As you consider whether to repair or replace, check online to see if replacing the item for a better-rated model might make you eligible for any efficiency rebates. These incentive programs can sometimes save you enough money to make the cost of replacing an appliance less than the cost of a repair, making your decision a breeze.
If you do decide to replace your broken appliance, make sure to find an appropriate recycling program and also be aware of the hazards associated with disposing of the coolant in fridges and air conditioners. After all, if your old appliance ends up on a landfill or leaking hazardous chemicals into the environment, you’re wiping out the energy savings of your new and efficient model!
Tess is part of the team behind Open Colleges. She is a green enthusiast and hopes to own her own eco-home in the future. She can be also seen on her social media profile at Google+. Photo by Andy Melton