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Save Money By Keeping Your Appliances Longer

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FridgePerhaps you’ve heard this adage: “Use it up, wear it out. Make it do, or do without.” One of the best ways to save money is to take good care of your appliances so that they last longer. The truth is that when one of your appliances fails spectacularly, there really isn’t much you can do to “make it do” — and many of us can’t “do without” the appliances we’ve come to depend on (although you might be surprised what you can live without when you have to). Your next best option is to make sure that your appliances last as long as possible.

The longer your appliances last, the more cost efficient your household is. If your appliances can last a while, and you can avoid costly repairs, you will save in the long run, since you won’t have to replace them.

General Rules for Helping Your Appliances Last Longer

No matter the appliance, you can help it last longer by following common sense rules related to the care of your appliances. First of all, take the time to read the owner’s manual for instructions on proper care. If you properly care for, and maintain, your appliances, they will be more likely to last longer. Additionally, do your best to keep your appliances clean. Clean appliances run more efficiently, using less power, and will last much longer than dirty appliances.

Tips for Specific Appliances

Here are some appliance-specific tips for helping your appliances last longer:

  • Washing Machine: Empty your pockets so that objects in them don’t damage the drum. Double check the fill hoses for your washer for cracks in the rubber. Avoid overloading your washing machine.
  • Dryer: Vacuum the ventilation hoses and the inside of your dryer regularly to get rid of lint build up. And, again, don’t overload.
  • Dishwasher: Avoid loading your dishwasher so the arms hit dishes; this can loosen the arms. Clear food out of the nozzles in the arms, and out of the trap at the back.
  • Garbage disposal: Run the disposal as soon as you send food down; you don’t want it to sit. Run the water after you turn the disposal off. Try to use cold water, instead of hot water. You can put a little ice in the disposal on occasion to help clean it.
  • Refrigerator: Make sure you clean the condenser coil regularly. This is the funny looking thing on the back of your refrigerator. Simply unplug the fridge and vacuum the coil. Check the doors to make sure you are getting a good seal.
  • Stove: As you might imagine, you should keep your stove and oven regularly cleaned. Double check gaskets for a good seal. If you have a “regular” element, don’t line the drip pans with foil; this can actually cause a short.
  • Water Heater: Periodically drain your water heater to and clear out the sediment on the bottom.
  • Water Softener: Check the resin for insoluble matter build up. You might need to clean the brine tank, but this is usually not something that needs to be done too often.
  • Furnace: Replace filters once a month during the winter. Have your furnace cleaned and serviced yearly.
  • Air Conditioner: If you have central air, you’ll need to keep changing the filter each month. You should keep your air condition in a shady area, and keep growth away from it. Have it serviced regularly.

(Photo: Neil T)

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9 Responses to “Save Money By Keeping Your Appliances Longer”

  1. saladdin says:

    Blame my poor upbringing, but everytime I see someone pay thousands for appliances I cringe. Having nothing but having used, lower tiered appliances ( think Roper brand)my entire life I can say they work just as good as new ones and last as long. I have learned to do minor repairs on dryers (very simple machines) and electric water heaters (even simpler machines)thanks to yahoo search. When I hear someone actually paying hundreds to have an electric water heater installed I shake my head.

    People overpay by thousands for appliances that have all the bells and whistles that they never use or don’t need.

    Paying for a new HE washer is just insane.

  2. Dave says:

    The flip side to this though is that if you have old, energy inefficient models, it might actually be cheaper in the long run to buy a new machine and junk the old ineffient one. That being said, there is no reason to buy a $2000 washing machine when a $500 washing machine does just as good a job but doesn’t have steam wrinkle removers or some other fancy feature…

    • freeby50 says:

      I agree with DAves point about hanging on to old inefficient appliances for too long. This is especially true if your appliances are 20+ years old. For example buying a $500 fridge today could save you $100 a year in electricity versus a model from 1991 or $200 a year compared to a model from over 30 years ago.

      That doesn’t change the point of the article of course, its just more of a side note.

    • skylog says:

      this was the first thing i thought when i read the title. the point of the article still stands, but this is certainly something to keep in mind.

  3. elloo says:

    It also pays to spend money for a professional to come in for complicated stuff like your central a/c and furnace for annual maintenance. You will keep these systems working longer and save money in the long run by doing this.

  4. Shirley says:

    Removable lint filters in cothes dryers need to be washed in warm soapy water now and again because the residue from ‘anti-static dryer sheets’ builds up in them and prevents efficient air flow.

  5. First Step says:

    We bought a new HE washer and gas dryer when we moved to this house 8 years ago. We bought the washer because water in this town is more than double the cost that it was in our old town. The HE washer uses at most 10 gallons/load whereas the regular washer used up to 40 gallons/load. Doing 10 loads of laundry per week, we’ve saved 1000s of gallons of water, great for the environment, good for our pocketbook as well.

    Another benefit that we’ve realized since getting the HE washer is that our clothes and linens last longer. My husband’s shirts and socks used to get holes in odd places, and that has happened much less with the HE washer. Our clothes don’t “pill” as much, and there is much less lint in the dryer trap with each load. Our old washer’s agitator really did a number on our laundry. Between the water and clothing/linen savings, it was definitely worthwhile to upgrade to the HE washer.

    With the gas dryer, our electric bill is much lower than the neighbors’ who own electric dryers. It’s hard to calculate the cost per load dried because we also have a gas stove, water heater and furnace, but our gas bill is generally only a few dollars more per month than our neighbors’ without gas dryers.

  6. Dan says:

    I would recommend a Surge Suppressor for the gas range and refrigerator.

    One night last summer were were awakened at 3AM by a huge crash. It must have been a lightning strike somewhere near our house. When we came down the next morning the clock on the stove was dead and the oven would not work. The appliance repair tech wanted 69$ for the first 15 min of diagnosis time. I bought the control board for $150 and replaced it myself but it could have all been avoided had I used a 10$ surge suppressor.

    The tech time (2 visits) plus the part (with markup) would have almost paid for a new range.

    I would also recommend checking/ replacing the anode on the hot water heater.


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