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Buying new whitegoods is a big investment. Follow these tips to help you make the right choice.

Shopping for a new appliance can be exciting, particularly if you’re replacing one that got its start years (and years!) ago. Knowing what to look for is not only daunting, it can be downright confusing. But a little bit of know-how goes a long way when you’re in the market for a new fridge or washing machine.

 
 

Pick the perfect size

Inside a fridge

This depends on both the size of your family and how much space you have at home. Taking care of the latter is easy; measure your space, as well as any doors, to ensure the appliance you’re considering will fit.

Regarding fridge capacity, the size you need will depend on your lifestyle—for example, how much entertaining you do—but the biggest factor is the size of your family. While a 200–400L fridge will suit a one or two person household, you’ll need a 520–600L fridge for three or four people, and 700L for five or more people.

Washing machines range in capacity from 4kg to more than 9kg. Larger machines are ideal for washing big items, but for economy, it’s best to choose one that suits the size of your typical load of washing. To work out what that is, weigh yourself holding your empty washing basket on a set of scales, then fill it with the things you’re about to wash, and weigh yourself holding it again. Subtract the smaller number from the larger number and there’s your answer.

Check out the star rating

Washing machine controls

The energy rating label gives you a good indication of how energy efficient the appliance is. The more stars the better—for example, a four star fridge uses 35 per cent less energy than a two star one—but only compare star ratings between the same sized appliance. A larger option with more stars than a smaller model is still likely to use more power overall.

Washing machines also display a water rating label and the more stars, the more water efficient the machine is. The label will also display how many litres of water per wash a machine uses, which is another useful comparison tool.

 

Choose the ‘right’ model

Inside washing machine

Top loader or front loader? Freezer on top or bottom? There are pros and cons for each, so as well as considering your personal preference, it pays to do your homework.

For example, while top-loading washing machines tend to be cheaper and have much shorter wash cycle times than front-loading ones, they use significantly more water and are harsher on clothes. Likewise, fridges with the freezer on the bottom offer a more logical layout, but they’re usually more expensive to buy and run than top-mount fridges.

CHOICE (choice.com.au) provides a comprehensive overview of all the factors to consider between different types of fridges and washing machines.

Going the distance

Woman looking into fridge

Wondering how long you can expect a new fridge or washing machine to last? Price isn’t always the best—or only—indication of quality, but generally speaking, you get what you pay for when it comes to an appliance’s life expectancy. That means spending a bit more money up front can be more cost effective long term.

 
 

Originally published in The Costco Connection, Mar/Apr 2020. Pick up the latest copy at your local warehouse or read it online.