Repair or replace your broken appliance?

Photo: istockphoto.com/Andrew Howe
We all love our time saving appliances. But when something breaks we're faced with a dilemma: repair or replace? Well, that depends on the actual appliance. Washers Replace any top loader washer that is pre-2005. The older the model, the more energy it will take to operate. Pre-1994 models can cost you an extra $100 to $120 per year to run. The new Energy Star washers are equipped with technology to save water and energy. Front loaders save on water because instead of rubbing clothes against an agitator to get them clean, they use a horizontal or tumble-axis basket to lift and drop clothing into the water. The top loading Energy Star machines may look like the ordinary washers but they save water by using high pressure sprayers and water sensors to cleanse clothes. Clothes Dryer Dryers are one appliance worth repairing rather than replacing. As long as your dryer is no older than 15 years it will have moisture sensor and function at the same efficiency as more current models. Energy Star doesn't bother to rate dryers since almost all machines use similar amounts of energy. When buying a new model, look for one with the moisture sensor in the drum, which allows it to accurately measure the moisture left in the clothes and shut off to save energy. Refrigerators Age is extremely important with almost all refrigeration appliances (fridge, freezer, air conditioner). Consider replacing your refrigerator if it's a pre-2001 model. Newer models consume about half the energy as 10-year or older models and no other appliance will give you as dramatic a savings. Bottom or top-freezer fridges are more efficient rather than the side-by-side models. Don't bother hanging onto that old fridge since it will cost you an extra $100 a year to run. Send it off to be recycled. Dishwasher Replace your dishwasher if it doesn't have the Energy Star label or if your machine is pre-1994. Newer models use less water and are more energy efficient since they are equipped with sensors that control the length of the wash cycle. Look for models with a light wash or energy saving cycle for even more efficiency. You should get up to nine years with these new dishwashers. Air conditioners Whether you have a window unit or central-air, consider replacing your model if it's hitting the 10-year mark. The newer window units now have high-efficiency compressors, fan motors and heat-transfer surfaces. All Central ACs have been given a SEER rating (seasonal energy efficiency ratio), also known as an EER (energy efficiency ratio). Models dating from 1992 to 2005 have been given a rating of 10 while older models can be as low as six. All 2006 models have an SEER score of 14 and up, making them highly efficient. Be sure to dispose of your old air conditioners at a hazardous waste facilities. Rule of repair The final factor in repairing or replacing is the cost. If the repair costs 50 percent or more than price of a new appliance, replace it rather than repair it. Anne Colvey is a Montreal-based environmental writer who is slowly replacing her energy guzzling appliances.