But appliances often break before their time, making the repair-or-replace decision harder.
If money is tight, you may have to repair the appliance and hope for the best. But if you’ve got some coin, then replacing with a new, energy-efficient model often is the better way to go.
That’s a lot of ifs, and the repair-or-replace dilemma often is hard to resolve. Here are some guidelines that will help you decide.
How to Follow the 50% Rule
In 2014, the average cost to repair an appliance was $254 to $275. Should you pay it?
If an appliance is more than 50% through its lifespan, and if the cost of one repair is more than 50% of the cost of buying new, then you should replace rather than repair.
To do the math, you’ll have to know the typical lifespan (see above), and get a repair estimate. Most service companies charge a “trip charge” to diagnose the problem. These charges vary widely, so be sure to ask when you arrange the appointment. If the company repairs the appliance, the trip charge typically is waived.
How to Calculate Whether Energy Efficiency is Cost Effective
New water-saving and energy-efficient appliances can be cost effective: A modern refrigerator, for instance, uses roughly half the electricity of one built 20 years ago.
But replacing energy clunkers that still have miles left on them may not be a money-wise move. You might spend thousands on an appliance in order to save hundreds (if you’re lucky) on your energy bill.
Jill A. Notini of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers says if you’re planning on staying in your home for 10 to 15 years, upgrading appliances is a good idea. However, if you’re planning on moving soon, you’ll save money by keeping your older appliances, and letting the new owners upgrade to energy-efficient models.