Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Money Crashers: Should I Repair or Replace a Broken Appliance?

One of the basic premises of the ecofrugal life is that it's usually better to repair an item, if you can, than to replace it. Repairing is usually cheaper; it prevents waste; and it saves the energy and other resource costs of making a replacement item. That's an ecofrugal win-win-win.

However, every rule has its exceptions. Sometimes repairing an item isn't possible, or is so difficult as to make it impractical. Sometimes it actually costs more than replacing. Sometimes it's cheaper, but only just, and the additional years of life you'd get out of the repaired item aren't enough to justify the cost. And sometimes keeping your old item can actually cost you money, as in the case of an old appliance that uses vastly more energy than a newer model. In a case like that, replacing would actually be both cheaper and greener in the long run.

Back in 2011, I did a whole series of posts exploring this "Repair or replace?" dilemma. It started with the case of Brian's old bike, which needed a moderately pricey repair to keep it running, and how that compared to my old computer, which I'd chosen to replace when an upgrade failed to get it up to a reasonable working speed. I went on to examine other specific cases—a damaged pair of boots, an old coat in need of alteration—and concluded with a set of general rules I'd found for deciding when repair is a better option than replacement, and vice versa. (This whole series is now marked with the label "repair or replace," so you can view all the posts on one page if you like.)

Recently, I decided to sum up my findings from all those posts with my readers in a single article on Money Crashers. It compares the benefits of repairing and replacing in detail and then outlines a series of questions to help you decide which is the better option in any given case. In brief, the questions are:
  1. How hard is it to repair?
  2. How do the costs compare?
  3. How worn out is it?
  4. Is it costing you money?
  5. Will its value increase?
  6. What's the disposal cost?
  7. Do you love it?
This, in short, is the article I wish I'd had handy for reference back when we first started having trouble with Brian's bike five years ago. If you have anything broken lying around your house and you just can't decide whether it's worth repairing, perhaps this article can make your decision about repairing it a little easier than ours was back then.

Should I Repair or Replace a Broken Appliance? – Here’s How to Decide

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