Consideration for the environment is one important factor to weigh when household appliances and electronics wear out or break at home. How do you know whether it’s best to replace something with a newer, more efficient model, take it to the repair shop, call in an expert or drop it off at the nearest recycling center?
While there’s really no hard and fast rule, here are a few common sense guidelines to consider:
Age and replacement cost of what’s broken
No guarantees, but we should expect to get at least ten years out of a major appliance, and frequently more. So for example, if your refrigerator conks out before its time, research the manufacturer online or search by “troubleshooting” and the name of the appliance. Chances are you’ll find several great clues as to what you’re up against.
Once you’ve got an idea of the problem, call a local repair service and speak with a service rep for an idea of repair costs over the phone. Check the price of a service call and see if diagnostics are included.
If it’s sounding expensive, try the old “50 percent rule”: If the repair costs more than half the replacement cost — and your budget allows — consider getting a new one.
Rebates and tax credits
In a nod to energy efficiency guidelines, many utility companies offer rebates to customers who replace inefficient models with newer models offering higher efficiency ratings. Likewise, also be sure and check for federal tax credits for replacing windows, roofing, doors, water heaters, insulation and heating/air conditioning with super efficient products.
Great strides are being made every year in improving the energy efficiency of appliances, electronics and household products. To determine which products offer the best energy efficiency for the money and related rebates that may be offered, check out the EnergyStar website, complete with a “Save Energy at Home” tool to help identify and calculate the best savings opportunities.