Thursday, April 26, 2012

Appliance Breakdown

When you buy a home, most of the time appliances come with it. For this house, however, all we got was the stove. Oh, and a broken dishwasher which the seller was supposed to remove but never did (this saga has been handled in great detail).

So! I needed to purchase a washer, dryer, refrigerator, and dish washer. I also wanted a chest freezer for the basement to store all the garden surplus so I could feast on my homegrown veggies all year 'round. I considered my options:

1) Energy Star

Energy Star Appliances have been so connoted for their energy efficiency. The program is the joint venture of the DOE and the EPA, and Energy Star appliances all feature this logo:

The idea is that by purchasing an energy efficient appliance you will save money over time because you'll use less electricity, water, or natural gas to operate the machine. The problem, however, is that they are SO EXPENSIVE upfront. Take a washing machine, for example. Most side loading energy star washers ran between 800 and 1300 dollars! The standard top load models are still 600-ish dollars, but that's a big difference. And then you have to buy the dryer!

According to the Energy Star website, the average energy bill for a single family home is $2,200 per year. 13% of that goes toward appliances. Meaning that a washer probably costs about 50 bucks to operate per year. Now assuming the Energy Star option cuts that bill in half, it would still take between 8 and 28 years (depending on if I went with the cheapest EnergyStar vs the most expensive EnergyStar) to break even. Not to mention that Energy Star ratings don't take into consideration the entire life cycle of the product, meaning how much energy and and how many raw materials are used to make the thing.

2) Used

Buying used appliances means you aren't using new resources, and you certainly save money. A quick Craigslist search showed I could get a used washer that looked pretty decent for 2-300 dollars. Of course they don't come with warrantees and there's no accounting of what treasures its previous owners shoved into the lint trap. Used appliances are also by nature older, and therefore less energy efficient. Another downside: you have to go pick them up and haul them into the house yourself. Boo.

3) Outlet Shopping

This is the direction we went. We headed to the Sears outlet on a Monday morning and found:
Estimated Operating Cost for a Year = $40

~A dented Energy Star refrigerator for 400$, that kind of looks like a vintage icebox, which is fabulous
~A brand new Energy Star chest freezer for 200$
~A returned Energy Star washer for 300$
~A dented gas dryer (not energy star, sadly, but it was the only one they had) for $300

All of these items are under warranty. Most are energy efficient, but for a fraction of the cost. Some were saved from the landfill when other people rejected them. I feel pretty good about our choices. What I REALLY wanted to do was buy a gorgeous Big Chill fridge for $2300 dollars, so I'm feeling very reasonable about outfitting the whole house for 1200 bucks.

No luck on a dish washer at the outlet; I'm particular about them and all the ones at the outlet store were powerfully ugly. I HATE when the buttons show on the front, for example. It wasn't worth saving a few hundred dollars to destroy the aesthetics of the space (yes, I feel that strongly about heinous front-button dishwashers.)

Cool, right?

I love the old gas range, though it has its idiosyncrasies; some burners will only light with matches. It's great looking! And I'm going retro in that room anyway.

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