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A Guide to Buying Major Appliances

January 3rd, 2013 Personal Finance

Major appliances are usually expensive, so it's in your best interest to do your research before you bring home a washing machine or dishwasher that may not make the best investment. Here are a few rules recommended by Real Simple magazine to consider when making your next purchase.

Washing machine With these appliances, you have to decide between top-loaders and front-loaders. Top-loaders are the generally the least expensive models, but front-loaders are more energy efficient, so the type you choose depends on your needs. Look for a machine that heats only the water it uses, has a fast spin cycle to reduce drying time, uses minimal water and has an additional rinse cycle if your clothes are prone to tough stains.

Refrigerator Like washing machines, you have different model options. Top or bottom freezers are typically less expensive, but side-by-side models often come with water filters and ice makers for your convenience. Look for one with easy-to-clean materials, plenty of storage space, energy efficiency and expandable features - like shelves you can move to accommodate bigger items.

Dishwasher The price depends on how many dishes they can hold and what kinds of extra features are included. If you're upgrading from hand washing, pretty much anything may seem like the perfect choice, but before you choose one, look for a model with a good size, multiple cycle options and a delay-start option so you can set it to clean after you go to bed.

Microwave Counter-top versions are usually less expensive and can be put anywhere, while over-the-range models save space and have a vent, which can come in handy. Choose one with minimal power if you use the microwave for reheating, and choose a higher wattage to cook whole meals. Sensors are helpful if you never know when the food's done, so you might want to choose an option that includes them.