Should I Upgrade My Kitchen Appliances or Nah? 4 Things to Consider

by Michael Franco
Domestic kitchen

If you follow home decorating accounts on Pinterest or Instagram, you’ve probably experienced some kitchen envy. Looking at bright, open kitchens with shiny new appliances can get anyone champing at the bit to visit their local big box retailer. But placing a massive order for a new fridge, oven and cold wine cabinet may not be in your or your bank account’s best interest. Let’s examine some primary considerations before you hit Home Depot.

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But first, a philosophical discussion. Why do you want a new microwave, coffee maker or dishwasher? Is it because the current machines are not performing the way they should? Are the older appliances not ecologically friendly? Are you planning to move and wonder if new kitchen appliances would improve your home’s value? Have you had to replace one device, and now the rest of your kitchen isn’t as attractive? Just in the mood for a new look?

All these reasons are perfectly acceptable if you're looking to replace your kitchen appliances — and knowing why will help you make wiser choices.

1. My Appliances Are Old or No Longer Work Properly

Appliances have a lifespan that can range from 10 to 12 years for a refrigerator or dishwasher to only about five years for a coffee maker. Knowing the age of your appliances can help you make a decision on whether to invest in new ones or repair what you’ve got. If your machine is under warranty, look into fixing it instead of shopping for a new one. A good rule of thumb is if it would cost you more than 50% of the price of a new appliance to fix your old one, you're probably better off buying new. The same goes if the machine is more than halfway through its lifespan. You don’t want to fix one problem, only to have something else gone wrong three months later.

Don’t forget to find out how to dispose of your old appliances properly, as different localities have different requirements. Most retailers offer to remove your old appliance when you purchase a new one. Take it upon yourself to inquire how they recycle old machines to make sure it’s done in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner.

2. I Want My Home to be More Eco-friendly

If you have older appliances, they can be energy hogs, so replacing them could help you save money by consuming less power and, in turn, reduce your environmental footprint. Always look for a model’s energy rating when shopping for new kitchen appliances. This can vary across manufacturers, and not all machines offer it. Dishwashers and refrigerators, for example, will carry an “Energy Star” label. A tag on the front of the appliance will list its Energy Star rating as well as its estimated energy use and cost per year.

3. Time for a Fresh Look

Choosing the best kitchen appliance for your needs and space is important if you’re completely remodeling your kitchen or just updating it a bit. Do an inventory of what you use and need. If that blender has been at the back of the cupboard for over a year, you probably don’t need to buy a new one. If you find you never run a full dishwasher, look into purchasing a dishwasher drawer instead of a full-size one. If you’re keeping the same size and type of appliance, you probably won’t need to worry about rewiring outlets; if not, though, anticipate your energy needs.

Be sure to measure doorways and the spaces where your current devices sit before purchasing new ones. And if you know you just aren’t that into cooking, there are many smaller-sized appliances on the market that may fit your style and free up kitchen space.

There are also so many elegantly designed kitchen appliances available these days. You may find one that’s the perfect focal point for your kitchen, and then you can plan the rest of the space’s design around its elements.

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4. I Plan on Selling My Home

Experts agree that, in most cases, new kitchen appliances could increase your home’s value by up to 7%. New refrigerators and ovens give buyers confidence that they won’t have the additional cost of replacing an appliance as soon as they move in. The energy efficiency of new appliances is also an attractive sell. Suppose you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen before selling it, and your devices still have life left in ’em. In that case, it might be more cost-effective to make some cosmetic changes, like updating the lighting fixtures, adding a new backsplash or refinishing the cabinets rather than swapping out appliances.

Also, consider that investing in other home improvements may be more inviting to buyers. A broken furnace, air conditioner or hot water heater are bigger problems to deal with, so potential buyers might feel better about having a new furnace than a new oven.

With all the designer kitchen appliances available today, it’s natural for you to want to upgrade. Considering your current kitchen appliances, their functionality (both now and in the future), responsibility to the environment, how you use your kitchen and if you’re planning to sell your home soon will help you decide whether to upgrade.