Major household appliances are a major investment these days, fetching four- and even five-figure prices. You’d probably love a bargain on buying them, and of course you know to keep your eye out for clearance or store-closing sales. But you may not realize that there’s a predictable pattern to when the deals on dishwashers, refrigerators, washer/dryers, etc. occur.
Like automakers, appliance manufacturers periodically introduce new models. For most, the prime launch season is between September and December; so, many of last year’s toys go up for grabs at heavily discounted prices during those months. However, some appliances may be cheaper at other times of the year, especially if they are seasonal (think heaters or air conditioners).
Whether you are shopping online or at a store, the price of every appliance varies by type, model, and season. The key is to plan your purchase so that you can replace aging appliances before they break down and leave you desperate.
What is the best time to buy appliances?
The best time to go shopping for an appliance depends on the type of appliance you need.
Certain appliances have historically had prices reduced in specific months or seasons. Washers, dryers, and dishwashers typically go on sale in September and October, ranges and ovens in December and January, and refrigerators in May. Some months are popular with certain manufacturers. For instance, Maytag has traditionally designated May for serious rebates on its appliances, designating it as Maytag Month (get it?).
Certain holidays that mark a change of season are also a prime time for promotions. Cases in point: Memorial Day (the start of summer), Labor Day (the onset of autumn), and Black Friday (kickoff to the holidays) and the weekends around them.
Some other times to shop for appliances include the beginning of the month, when people feel flush because they’ve cleared last month’s bills and gotten new paychecks; Thursdays, when many retailers are trying to draw folks in before the weekend rush; and the end of the month, when sales staffers are hurrying to meet their quotas.
When is the best time to buy different appliances?
Peak sale season
Larger appliances such as stoves, furnaces, and washers/dryers are best purchased during their peak sale season for the greatest savings. Keep in mind that these periods may often be merged with holiday sales like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and New Year’s Day. A typical discount is around 20% to 25% off the list price, but sometimes it can be as high as 50% or 70%.
End of the year
Smaller appliances such as coffee makers, toasters, and microwave ovens usually go on sale during the end of the year, when manufacturers are trying to clear the shelves for new models. There is rarely much of a difference between last year’s models and the brand-new ones; by purchasing a discontinued model, you can often get virtually the same appliance for nearly half the price.
Buying seasonal items when they’re out of season is another clever way to save on household appliances. For instance, shopping for an air conditioner when winter is around the corner is smart because most other people are busy looking at heaters and furnaces now. Similarly, heaters and boilers are cheaper in summer because that’s the season when folks are thinking grills and coolers. Just one caveat: A lot of items might be out-of-stock, so your choices might be limited during the off-season.
Other tips for buying appliances
Your appliance has abruptly died, and you can’t wait for sale season — you need it now. Consider the following ways to save.
Ask for discontinued/floor models
Buying a model that’s on display on the showroom floor could save you up to 15 percent off retail, and so can buying a model that has been discontinued. Stores may not advertise this option, so make sure to ask the salesperson or manager.
Consider refreshed or certified refurbished models
Appliances with minor or cosmetic imperfections, or ones that have been labeled as certified refurbished by the manufacturer, are often on offer for significantly low prices. However, when looking at less-than-perfect appliances, make sure they do not have cracked or broken glass panels, come with a warranty, and are in working condition with all parts intact.
Try small, independent businesses
You are more likely to find better deals at local, independent businesses than big name retailers. They may even go the extra mile to offer perks like free repairs or installation.
Compare and shop online
You can compare appliance prices online before you even head to the store. Sites like PriceGrabber and Google Shopping let you look up discounted prices on appliances; you can also find pre-owned appliances for a fraction of the original price on eBay and Craigslist (though often these won’t come with warranties). Online marketplaces like Amazon often have special price offers on new appliances.
How long do appliances last?
Knowing the lifespan of appliances can help you determine when to start shopping for new ones. The following table indicates the average lifespan of the most common household appliances.
|Air conditioner||13 years|
|Electric range||13 years|
|Gas range||15 years|
|Electric oven||13 years|
|Gas oven||15 years|
|Electric furnace||15 years|
|Gas furnace||18 years|
|Electric boiler||13 years|
|Gas boiler||21 years|
|Microwave oven||9 years|
|Coffee maker||6 years|
Best ways to finance appliance purchases
Replacing a major appliance or two can be hard on the finances, but the following options can make the expense slightly more bearable.
- Retailer payment plans: Some retailers have payment plans where you can pay 30% at the time of purchase, and the rest over the next few months. Often there’s no interest rate — for a time. If that’s the case, you should pay off the entire balance before the promotional period ends.
- Personal loans: A personal loan, aka a home improvement loan, is available from most banks and lending institutions, has a fixed interest rate, and a repayment period between 12 and 60 months. If you need to finance a major appliance purchase — such as a boiler, a furnace, or the entire HVAC system — and have good credit and stable income, a small personal loan could be a quick and easy solution.
- Home equity loan: If you’re replacing several appliances at once, a home equity loan could come to your financial rescue. Using your house as the collateral, you could borrow against its equity and then pay it off over several months or years. This is often called a second mortgage, and is useful for financing for home renovation or remodeling projects that include new appliances.
- Home equity line of credit (HELOC): This is similar to a home equity loan in all aspects except the amount you can borrow: Instead of a lump sum, a HELOC gives you a revolving line of credit. A HELOC is particularly useful when you have to make several appliance purchases over the course of a few months and are not sure of the total cost.
When is the worst time to buy appliances?
The single worst time to buy a new appliance is whenever you’re desperate for a replacement. You’re most likely to buy whatever option you first come across, regardless of the cost, because you don’t have the time to shop around.
Buying a new model just after it has just been released is also a bad idea: The price and the demand are going to be at their highest. Even if the manufacturer is offering an enticing rebate, you’ll be getting no bargain.
Seasonal appliances are also most expensive when they’re in season. Shopping for an air conditioner in mid-summer and a heater in winter is probably not the smartest move.
Next steps in buying appliances
Use each appliance’s current condition to develop a plan for replacing it. That way, you not only start exploring your options early — and before the best time of the year to buy that particular type — but can also begin saving for them, too.
Knowing the best time to buy appliances can help you maximize savings while refreshing your home. You’ll be able to score retailers’ seasonal sales and manufacturers’ discounts to get the best models. Planning ahead to replace your appliances will also give you time to save up the money or secure financing such as a home improvement loan, home equity loan or a HELOC.
One thing’s for sure: The wrong time to buy an appliance is when it breaks down. Because then, faced with mounds of spoiling food or dirty clothes, you’ll probably pay anything.