Two weekends ago, while my husband, baby, and I were away backpacking, our refrigerator decided to give up the ghost. We came home to find an entire fridge and freezer of spoiled food. Not quite the homecoming we were hoping for! I spent the better part of the next day researching refrigerators for our space. The task was doubly hard because our small galley kitchen couldn't accommodate a normal-depth refrigerator. Plus, the majority of fridges that were the right depth were $6,000 and up! Since I'd just finished maternity leave, we were on a tight budget, and couldn't afford to throw that kind of cash at an appliance.
In the end, we found a great Bosch refrigerator that we're quite happy with. In the process of researching this purchase, I learned a few tricks that I thought might help out other Casa readers. See my tips when you read more.
- Read the reviews with a grain of salt. Our fridge was faulted by several reviewers for its poor ice-making performance. However, as another reviewer pointed out, if you simply read the directions, you'll find out how to most efficiently make ice with this model.
- Measure twice, search once. Save time in your search by measuring the space you want to fit the fridge in before heading to the Internet or into a store. Since you can search by depth, height, and width of fridge, knowing your measurements by heart will help to minimize the time you spend looking for a fridge.
- Know your needs. Are you a single lady? Have a passel of kids? Freeze a lot of jam and veggies? These considerations can help you determine the cubic feet you'll need for storage in your fridge. Why take up room in your kitchen with an extra-large appliance if you only store a minimal amount of food in it? Or, if you know you freeze a lot of food, look for a fridge with a larger freezer capacity.
- Delivery is awesome. Why mess with buying an appliance in-store, and hauling it away, when many stores charge a minimal delivery fee? Sears charged us $65 to deliver our fridge and $10 to haul away our old fridge. The handy, polite, and prompt servicemen installed our fridge and set up the water filter component on it before 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning, which left us plenty of time to get brunch and head to the farmer's market.
- Look for deals in-store. While we bought our fridge online, my brother recently found a Bosch fridge at Lowes for half price in-store. He was able to get the fridge at a lower price point since its finish had been scratched. However, the fridge had been scratched on the side that was going against a wall, so you'd never know the difference anyway. Cosmetic issues like this can be a real cost saver.
- Shop outlets. One friend recently advised on Facebook that she shopped at Sears Appliance Outlet. "We got a $2,500 stainless steel fridge for $700." If you have the time, checking in at outlet stores can also save you some serious cash.
- Look for Energy Star products. Our fridge has an Energy Star rating, which means it costs a lot less to operate per year, given its efficiency rate. Look for the Energy Star label to find out whether an appliance is energy efficient. The federal government also requires most appliances to display the yellow and black EnergyGuide label, which can break down the operating cost of appliances by kilowatt hour.
What helpful tips do you have for buying refrigerators?