So, You Need Some New Appliances…How are You Going To Get Them?
So, you know what is a really bad feeling? It’s a few days before payday, and of course, money is pretty tight. You have put a load of the never-ending laundry into the washing machine, filled and turned on the dishwasher, and are getting ready to relax for a precious few minutes before you go to bed. You walk into the kitchen, and there is a suspicious burning smell coming from the dishwasher. Or, worse yet, the washing machine which should have been getting that weird stain off of your favorite blouse, is instead releasing a flood of dirty water all over your formerly pristine floor.
You could also wake up in the middle of the night to the realization that your heater or air-conditioner is completely non-functioning, or started the bath for your kids to see that you no longer have an hot water heater that works. None of these actually sound like something that you’re looking forward to, but I can guarantee that they will probably happen to you at some point in your life. And if you’re like me, they will happen at the world’s worst time.
Now, of course, you do have some options. You could choose to wash every dish in your house by hand, or you could visit the laundromats with mounds of laundry every Saturday. You could buy the possibly unsafe space heaters, or boil water multiple times a day for baths and cleaning. You could do all of that in your spare time. You know, before your daughter’s dance class, but after your son’s baseball game. Doesn’t that sounds like more fun than you could imagine?
Or, you could go into debt and put the new appliance on a credit card. You could also go into a LOT more debt to get the new appliance that you so desperately need from a rent-to-own, or lease-finance store. Another option you may have considered is to buy a used one. Hey, you may be able to pick one up for fifty dollars, but you probably should ask yourself a very important question. How many people would sell an appliance that is in great shape, and has no problems? You could be getting a great deal on a used appliance, but you could also be setting yourself up for failure. Do you really want to walk into the kitchen or laundry room again, in the very near future, and find that same sort of mess? Yeah, I didn’t really think so.
Know Your Resources
If you happen to live in the State of California, you may already know that you have access to a lot of services that people in similar situations in other states don’t. One of the options for you is done through CalWorks, In Southern California, the Energy Management Assistance, or EMA, gives out energy efficient appliances ( including air conditioners) for free to low and moderate income families or individuals. So, if you are lucky enough to live in this area, you could quite literally trade your old, broken appliances in for new ones that work more efficiently and will actually help you save money with only a little paperwork and a few phone calls.
Another way for you to get new appliances would be through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. In addition to receiving significant discounts on your utility bills ( for questions, refer to my blog on ways to get help with your utility expenses), you can also receive crucial appliances. That may not mean that you can get a new dishwasher from them, as each county has the right to determine what “necessary” means to them. This could mean that they provide:
1) Hot water heaters
2) Air conditioning units, or heaters, if you live in an area that makes them necessary because of extreme weather
3) Refrigerators or Freezers, which may be limited to one per household
4) Stoves and Ovens
If you would like to contact the agency in your area that handles this program, you can find it at this website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/liheap/grantees/states.html.
It is important to know that this program is available, in limited amounts, in every county, in every state, in the United States. As you can imagine, this program is very popular for people of low and moderate income.
Although qualifications may vary by area, in general, you cannot make more than 150% of the federal income poverty level, or 60% of your state’s median income level. When you apply, it would not be at all unusual to run into a waiting list. That’s obviously not a surprise, but what you might not know is that individuals with certain qualifying conditions may be put at the top of the list. You might be one of those persons if you:
1) Have one or more children under the age of six
2) Have at least one senior citizen that are part of your family
3) Have home-energy costs that are high, when compared to your income and other household expenses
If You Have To Buy An Appliance Right Now, You NEED To Know This
On December 10, 2010 Texas begins a new program that is aimed towards helping people obtain new, energy-efficient appliances. They have 10,000,00 dollars in grants available, that will come in the form of rebates. In order to be eligible, you will have to show proof that your old appliance was removed from your home. If you choose to recycle your old appliance with a State Energy Conservation Office partner retailer or recycling center, and have proof, you can also receive an additional refund.
Many other states have similar programs. If you’d like to see what your state offers, a website that makes links available by state can be found at:
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=rebate.rebate_locator. It is crucial for you to check before you buy, and then to file for your refund as early as possible. In Texas, the first time they offered the refund in 2010, they used all of the funds available in one business days. That means that there were probably a lot of disappointed people the next day, and you don’t want to wind up another one.
An Energy Efficient Appliance Sounds Good, But a Used ( and Cheaper) Appliance Sounds Better
If you choose to buy a used appliance, just be careful from whom you buy it. You may heard people say “ Buyer Beware”, and it is still very true In most states, there is no guarantee on used appliances, so if you buy a lemon, you can just add it to your collection of broken appliances at home. If you’re lucky enough to know someone who knows about appliances ( and they couldn’t repair your old one), this is a good time to ask them to come with you. In addition, some of the used appliance stores offer guarantees on their product for a brief period of time. You will pay a little more for an appliance from a store, but you do have the comfort of knowing that it will work for at least the guaranteed period of time.
Even even if you do still choose to buy an appliance from the used store, you might want to ask how their guarantee works. If they take your appliance in to the store to repair it, will you get a loaner?
Or do you just not have that crucial appliance for however long it takes to fix it? When they fix it, will you be responsible for any expenses? Some store owners consider a guarantee to only cover parts or labor, not both. Some women have also reported being charged for them to pick up and deliver the broken appliance that you bought from them.
One woman said that she had been charged an extra twenty five dollars per floor that her broken appliance had been moved, and she lived on the third floor. If you think about it, including pickup and bring it back after repair, that was an extra hundred dollars that she was charged, that nobody mentioned to her when she was buying the appliance. So, in theory, if you were unfortunate enough to buy an appliance from that kind of store, you could be asked to cover parts, or delivery AND pickup. That’s a hard way to save money, and you might have been able to buy a cheap brand of appliance, or a discounted floor model for less.
Whatever you do, wherever you get your appliance, you need to know that your home is safe for you and your children. If you still have not found the help you need, you could also call 211 to see if there are other community resources in your area for appliance repair or replacement. You might also ask at women’s shelters and local churches with outreach groups. You might be surprised at the type of things that are donated when people remodel a home.
Don’t forget that if you rent your home, your landlord could also be responsible for repairing the essential appliances that were provided in your home when you moved in. If they seem to drag their feet, you could benefit from a quick call to your local Renter’s Association.