When is it Worth Upgrading an Appliance?

If you take good care of them and perform regular maintenance, most appliances have long lifetimes and will plug along just fine for quite some time. However, older appliances tend to be less energy efficient and could result in slowly climbing energy bills as they age. If your appliances don’t break down, when it is time to start trade in for an upgrade?


Your refrigerator consumes about half of all your kitchen electricity, and account for up to 20% of your home’s overall energy bill. Refrigerator operating efficiency has improved so much in the last ten years that if your refrigerator is close to a decade old but still within the average lifespan window of 15 years, you ought to give serious thought to replacing it early. An $800 refrigerator will actually pay for itself in energy savings within 8 years.

Central air conditioning

Central heating and cooling together account for close to half of your total energy bill, but newer units can be up to 40% more efficient than models more than 12 years old. Coupled with secure insulation and duct maintenance to prevent system leaks, you stand to reap significant energy savings by upgrading.


The sea turtle of home appliances, furnaces can last up to 70 years if well-maintained. Newer models are only about 15% more efficient than older models, and efficiency can be enhanced by proper insulation and sealed ductwork. Unless your furnace is breaking down regularly and racking up repair bills, you may end up spending more on an upgrade than you will save in the short-term. Just keep up the good maintenance.

Washing machine

The energy consumption of your washing machine is twofold: the electricity it takes to run, and the energy it takes to heat the water used to run each cycle. Today’s washing machines consume one third the electricity and require half as much water as older models. Using less water increases your savings even more, since less water means your heater doesn’t have to use as much energy to heat it. The spin cycles on newer machines also remove more water, so clothes can spend less time in the dryer. If your washing machine is approaching 10 years old, you may do well to replace it—it’s almost like you’re upgrading three appliances at once.

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