Take advantage of "Cash for Appliances"

PHILADELPHIA - October 6, 2009

VIDEO: Nydia Han's latest Consumer Wrap report

Cash for Appliances is a $300 million federal plan, but each state will administer its own rebate program by selecting which Energy Star appliances to include and how much of a rebate to offer.

The Department of Energy expects the rebates to range from $50 dollars to $200 dollars per appliance.

It expects to have the money distributed to states by November 30th, which means you might be able to take advantage of the program just in time for Christmas.

And take note - the appliance rebate program is different from the Cash for Clunkers program for cars in that consumers will not need to trade in an old appliance. To get the rebate, all you'll have to do is buy any qualifying Energy Star appliance.

That means, you won't have to haul your bulky old appliances to a store or dealer.

Repair or Replace? Tips on appliances from Angie's List:

Angie's 10 questions to ask to determine whether to replace or repair an appliance:

  • Is it really broken? The trouble may be a short in the plug, a tripped circuit breaker, or a bad surge-protector outlet. Check the troubleshooting section of the unit's instruction manual for the most common problems and solutions.
  • How old is the appliance?
  • Have you had trouble with the unit before? If it's performed well, it might be worth fixing instead of replacing with something unproven.
  • How much will it cost to repair the unit?
  • What would a similar appliance cost?
  • Are there any hidden costs to purchase (removal, installation, disposal, tax, etc.)?
  • How difficult is it to replace the appliance (Is it a built-in)?
  • What additional features will I get with the new appliance?
  • What energy savings will I get with the new appliance? Will they offset the cost of a new appliance vs. repair?
  • What tax credits are available for purchasing an energy efficient unit? Will they offset the cost of a new appliance vs. repair?

Industry experts say washing machines tend to break down the most because they take the most beatings and contain many moving parts. Angie's List went to the experts for their estimates on the average life of major appliances:

  • 10-15 years for refrigerators and freezers
  • 10-20 years for ovens and ranges
  • 10-15 years for dishwashers
  • 10-15 years for clothes washers/dryers
  • 10-20 years for water heaters
  • 15-20 years for central air-conditioning unit

"Generally speaking, if a repair will cost more than half the cost of the new appliance and the unit is more than six or seven years old, you're probably better off replacing it," Hicks said. "With the tax credits available now for energy efficient appliances, when you factor that in with the cost of repair, it might make good sense to go ahead and replace the appliance with a new one."

Preventative maintenance is your best bet for prolonging the life of your appliances. Angie suggests following these tips:

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