Why replace appliances that work?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 7, 2014

You can't always wait until an appliance you rely on every day dies before replacing it. If you do, you won't just have a major inconvenience to deal with, but lots of pressure to buy something in a hurry, too. And you know what happens then -- you may not make the best choices, which could mean wasted money.

7 good reasons to replace appliances

But what if your appliances are not that old and they seem to work just fine? Why would you replace them?

Well, you might consider appliance longevity to anticipate a potential malfunction. But you don't need a broken appliance or an excuse if you want to buy a newer model. Any of the following reasons are good enough for you to replace appliances:

  1. Buyer's remorse: You didn't take enough time to consider all the features you really wanted when you bought your present appliance.
  2. Came with the house: Your current appliances may not have been exactly what you wanted, but when you bought your house, it was "move-in ready."
  3. Doesn't fit your remodel: You're refacing cabinets or replacing the cabinetry and counters, and you want an integrated design. Or perhaps your remodeled floor plan gives you more space for your appliances.
  4. Energy hog: You use your appliances a lot and know there are more energy-efficient models available than the ones you currently own.
  5. Poor functionality: You need more convenience from your appliances. They no longer serve all of your needs or are just too troublesome to use, clean or maintain.
  6. Time-Consuming: You need a model that will do the job in a lot less time.
  7. Resale value: You are planning to sell your home within five years. Whatever you buy today to replace a non-functioning appliance needs to favorably impress prospective buyers.

What to consider when you replace appliances

According to Steve Gunderson, a kitchen and bath designer with Czyz's Appliance in Reno, Nev., the first question to ask yourself when deciding what to spend on new appliances and which features are important is, Are you planning to sell your home in five years or live in it for another 10?

If you're planning to sell sooner than later, Gunderson suggests that spending $2,500 on something like a Bertazzoni professional segmented cooktop actually makes sense. The value is all about the return on investment: a substantial appliance like that can sway potential buyers to spend an additional $5,000 for your home when you sell it.

On the other hand, if you plan to stay in the house longer, Gunderson recommends you go for personalization. Customize your home with appliances that have exactly the features you need and want. The value will be your satisfaction with the benefits you get when you use that appliance -- energy efficiency, and/or convenience and functionality to fit your particular needs -- whether your needs are about saving time, money, energy dollars, or your own physical expenditure of energy.

Appliances for ROI or for functionality

The way to a homebuyer's heart is through the kitchen, or so say quite a few Realtors. Gunderson recommends the following appliances if you want to make the most impact on homebuyers:

  • DCS 36" range -- DCS has long been a top brand for professional chefs, and they cater to home chefs who want similar functionality from their kitchen appliances. If your remodel allows enough space, a big, beefy professional-quality range like one this size is bound to impress the fussiest buyers. You can spend about $7,200 for a DCS 36" duel fuel, 4-burner and griddle range and hood, but if you enjoy cooking, you can appreciate this investment that much more.
  • Sub-Zero refrigerator -- Sub-Zero's construction is designed to prolong the life of your food. Their Pro48 has dual refrigeration in a 4'-by-7'-by-2' unit with optional glass door. Expect to pay upwards of $15,000 for this behemoth, but among kitchen aficionados, Sub-Zero is the benchmark in home refrigeration.
  • GE Advantium speed cook oven -- A microwave, convection, and speed cook oven all in one, this oven actually produces quality results comparable to a conventional oven -- in a fraction of the time the conventional oven takes. If you are ready to replace your microwave, this is the oven to get. Prices for the Advantium range from $1,300 to $2,500, but adding this appliance can be a strong selling point for potential buyers.

If you're planning to stay put at least five to 10 years, the following appliances offer superb personalization with energy- and time-saving features:

  • Induction cook top -- A watched pot never boils -- unless you're using an induction cook top. An electric coil cook top is 45 percent efficient; gas, 75 percent. But an induction cook top is 90 percent efficient. Watch the pot boil in less time than it takes the microwave. GE, KitchenAid, and Maytag all offer excellent products. Think Thermador if you're looking for top-of-the-line.
  • Refrigerator drawer -- These under-the-counter drawers can serve as supplemental refrigerators and freezers. Select one that can change functionality according to your needs -- from wine cooler for your weekend entertaining to freezer drawer for fresh meat -- to produce storage when you make your run to the farmers' market.
  • GE Advantium speed cook oven -- This versatile kitchen oven is still the kitchen appliance to beat for sheer functionality, time-savings, and energy-savings with high-quality cooking results.

There are plenty of good reasons to replace your appliances, but quality and convenience features may not come cheaply. If you're just replacing a builder's model appliance with a newer version of itself, you can skip the kitchen showrooms and watch for sales at the big box stores -- or just make do with a hotplate and Styrofoam ice chest pending your buying decisions.

About the Author

Iris Price is a single Baby Boomer whose antidote to a lack of retirement funds was to launch a long-delayed career as a writer. While others her age concoct bucket lists and travel the world, she bought a new-construction home and obsessively creates lists of must-have home improvements and personal realization goals. She specializes in writing about home services and self-motivation.