Angie's List | Buying a refrigerator

Your refrigerator is the most used appliance in the kitchen. An aging, inefficient refrigerator consumes a lot of energy. If it's time to replace you can boost home efficiency by purchasing a well-sealed and insulated fridge. A new refrigerator with an Energy Star label uses at least 40 percent less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001.

When large appliances, like the refrigerator, don't operate properly or break down, homeowners often face a difficult decision: do I repair or replace it?

Angie hicks says, "A good rule of thumb on whether to repair or replace your refrigerator is to consider how old your refrigerator is. If it's more than ten years old and it's broken down you might want to consider a new one especially if the cost for repairing it is half the cost of a new refrigerator."

Adam Clinton upgraded his home's eight year old refrigerator during a kitchen remodel.

Adam says, "We recently did a remodel of the entire kitchen. Our house was built in the 1920's. When we were going through the whole remodel process we decided that new appliances and upgrading were one of the most important things we needed to do."

"With the remodel we had space limitations so with the space limitations we really had to go with a counter depth fridge, but we wanted to maximize the entire amount of space that we could have. Having two little children it's important that we have that," Adam tells us.

"When buying a refrigerator there a lot of different styles and types you can choose from. First you want to consider what you want in your refrigerator because you could end up paying for lots of bells and whistles that you may never use. An average refrigerator may cost about $400 but you can spend up into the thousands for a refrigerator. Also remember you want to be sure that it matches your current appliances because that is going to help with your resale value," Angie advises.

Appliance Store Manager Vernon Schmidt says, "Stainless steel is probably the number one seller. They have several stainless finishes now. Some of them show less fingerprints and stuff. True stainless steel is not an easy material to keep clean, especially if you have small children, but it's probably our number one seller."

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated appliance sales and appliance repair companies about buying and maintaining a refrigerator.

Refrigerators come in three main body configurations:

· Side-by-side, top-mounted freezer;

· Side-by-side, bottom-mounted freezer and;

· The popular French-door style, bottom-mounted freezer.

Angie's List Tips: Buying a Refrigerator

· Measure the space: Before you go shopping, measure the space available in your kitchen. Allow some space for the air to circulate.

· What features do you want/need? Today's refrigerators are available in several styles and colors and come with an array of options. Standard models start around $400, but others can be very high tech and push the price tag up into the thousands depending on what features are available.

· Does it match? Buying a refrigerator that doesn't match your existing appliances could hurt your resale value if you plan to sell you home.

· Compare models: It pays to comparison shop. Don't be afraid to negotiate on the price either, or haggle on additional fees such as delivery, installation or an extended warranty.

· Discounted appliances: You could find a scratch and dent refrigerator for hundreds less. Most are brand new and come with a full warranty. Some dings are barely noticeable, but make sure the dents won't prevent the appliance from running properly.

Your refrigerator is your most used appliance in your kitchen so by improving it and getting a newer model you're going to save on energy efficiency, especially if you get a new Energy Star rated refrigerator.

Repair or Replace?

When large appliances, like the refrigerator, don't operate properly or break down, homeowners often face a difficult decision: do I repair or replace it? A good practice in determining whether to repair or replace is to look at how old the refrigerator is and the cost of repair. If it's an older unit (10 years or more) and the cost of repair is half the cost to replace it, you'll probably be better off investing in a new, energy-efficient model. 

Maintaining your refrigerator: Replacing a refrigerator is expensive. It only takes a few minutes to maintain it.

· DON'T stuff the refrigerator and freezer so full that you're blocking the air flow necessary to keep your perishables from perishing.

· DO clean the condenser coils. It's an easy vacuum cleaning job for most of us and will help the fridge run efficiently. Built-ins might require a service call.

· DO check

the seal. If it's not tight, you're losing efficiency and not keeping food properly chilled. Close the door on a thin sheet of paper and if the paper slips, your fridge is wasting energy. Replace the seal or adjust the door latch if needed.

Appliance Store Manager Vernon Schmidt says, "There are a lot more things that can go wrong with a new one because of the electronics, but you save a ton of energy with them. Along with that you are getting better temperatures in different sections of your unit so your crisper is keeping a more precise temperature. Your refrigerator is overall is keeping more precise temperatures than the older ones. You don't have the big fluctuation so your food stays better longer."

As far as repairs Vernon says, "The most common repair on a refrigerator, or a freezer, either one, usually has to do with the defrost system. That's always been true. The defrost is usually the first thing that messes up. When your defrost goes down and doesn't defrost the refrigerator properly then you have a lack of cooling going on."

"A lot of the refrigerators you can get hooked up to the Internet to where if your refrigerator starts messing up you can set it up where it automatically contacts your servicer through the Internet and somebody will call you to tell you your refrigerator is not working right," Vernon continues.

It pays to comparison shop when buying a fridge. Don't be afraid to negotiate on the price, or haggle on additional fees such as delivery, installation or an extended warranty.

You could also find a scratch and dent refrigerator for hundreds less. Most are brand new and come with a full warranty. Some dings are barely noticeable, but make sure the dents won't prevent the appliance from running properly.

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