The smart buyers guide for updating home appliances
Whether it's simply time for an upgrade or fate forces your hand with a broken appliance, replacing your washing machine, dishwasher or fridge can be a stressful and costly situation.
Bruce Pitchers, Content Manager from Canstar NZ, shares his insights on how to get the best deal when replacing a home appliance without compromising on features.
Stop before you shop
It is a good idea to start each year considering the age, condition and features of your current appliances to prepare for potential upgrades. For example, the average lifecycle of a washing machine is around nine years, eight years for a dishwasher and up to 13 for a fridge. If your whiteware is nearing this age, it is time to start planning to replace them.
"When an essential appliance fails, the pressure to replace it quickly and limit disruption to the family can result in significant budget blow outs. Having a plan to manage the end of appliance lifecycles will ensure you get the products and features you need, at the right cost for your wallet," says Bruce.
If you can, shop seasonally to get the best deal, such as during end-of-financial-year sales, Boxing Day or Black Friday, and review all the discounts on offer at the time.
If you have to replace an item in a hurry, be sure to check clearance items and factory seconds stores. You may even be able to bag a bargain on an item that has a minor imperfection, like a small scratch or damaged box.
Cheap versus steep – is there a difference?
Bagging a bargain can often be a false economy when it comes to home appliances, says Bruce.
"For example, a cheaper dishwasher will often have a plastic interior, which is less durable than one that uses stainless steel. Expensive fridges will have more versatile and stronger interior shelves and drawers. Whenever possible, choose a well-built appliance over a bargain price for long term savings," says Bruce.
The same goes for washing machines. Low-priced models may have budget internal wiring and concrete counterweights. If they break down, it can be more complex to fix, and you could find yourself needing to replace your machine after a short period of time.
"When working out if a product is a good long-term investment, quality should be your baseline criteria," says Bruce.
"Additional fittings, features or accessories can substantially drive up the price of an appliance, so find a reputable make and model first, then explore the bells and whistles your budget will allow."
However, there are some additional features that will be worth every cent, especially when it comes to safety. Bruce advises that stovetops in particular are worth investing more in.
"Many high-tech stove tops that are new to the market have safety features including flame safety cut outs that switch off gas supply if the flame is extinguished. Paying more for a high-end stovetop could protect your family from injury or accidents," he says.
Saving the planet and your wallet
Another key tip from Bruce is to always consider the Energy Star Rating of the device you're buying.
"Energy-efficient appliances may cost more, but they can deliver long-term savings. Over the lifetime of an appliance, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars off your power bill," says Bruce.
Bruce recommends using Energywise's running costs calculator to gain perspective on the energy rating of your appliances, the amount of energy used, and how much an appliance will potentially cost to run per year.
This is particularly important if you are replacing your hot water system. According to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, hot water heating can contribute up to 30 per cent of household energy bills, so it's important to think about which hot water system makes sense for your home.
For example, an electric hot water cylinder is the most common type of hot water heating in New Zealand and costs up to $3,000 to install. A continuous flow gas hot water system will set you back around the same to install but could save you up to $250 per year on running costs.
Sustainable options can also yield long term savings. Heat pump water heaters are an emerging technology that can cost just $150 to $650 to run per year, though installation costs are higher. Solar hot water systems can provide up to 75 per cent of hot water needs for free, depending on your location, but come with a much higher upfront price tag.
"Weigh up your options between installation fees and running costs and make a decision on what heating system would work for you based upon your financial circumstances and usage," says Bruce.
Word to the wise on warranties
In the event any appliance does break before the end of its lifecycle, Bruce says that owners should keep an eye on warranties, but also remember that Kiwis enjoy a very high level of consumer protection.
"Even if a manufacturer's warranty has expired, consumers may still have the right to have goods repaired or replaced. While paying extra for an extended warranty may provide peace of mind at the check-out, especially when purchasing a big-ticket item, it's probably not worth the expense," says Bruce.
If an issue does arise, Bruce advises talking to the retailer first, then complaining in writing, and if you're still unhappy, you can make a claim to the Disputes Tribunal.
While the price tag of big-ticket household items can seem daunting, savvy homeowners can use careful consideration and planning to maximise value for money, features and safety when it comes to appliances.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Resimac.