Planning to take your money, if you let them

I get passed the HGTV  magazine regularly and in this months issue I was shocked to see an article The Life Expectancy of Appliances.  Where do they come up with these figures?    I’ve done a little homework you won’t believe what your appliances are expected to cost you over your lifetime.   I feel a rant coming on.


First up was the hair dryer.  Now I’ve had hair dryers last me years. I was a professional hairdresser, yet I bought the mid-priced hair dryer to use on my clients, and at home.  I paid somewhere under $20 for a hair dryer I used from 1978 until 2002 when I lost it in our fire.  That’s 14 years. Want to know how long a hair dryer is supposed to last if bought today?  ONE TO THREE YEARS.


I had owned a Conair dryer all those years,  it’s still relatively inexpensive to buy a Conair, I found a couple online right around the $20 range.  So if I had to buy one every other year (average of the 1-3 years) and I’ll go with the year I bought my first hair dryer to today.  I would have bought 17.5 dryers at a total cost of $350.

Don't forget all the curling irons, combs, brushes and hair ties.

Don’t forget all the curling irons, combs, brushes and hair ties.



The next appliance listed was the vacuum cleaner.  I can tell you the one I own now was bought for me by my son when he was 16, ten years ago.  The estimated life of a vacuum cleaner is FIVE TO SEVEN YEARS.  I don’t know what he paid for it as he received an employee discount.  But let’s say you bought a simple vacuum cleaner in the $100 range.  If I bought a new one every 6 years (again the average of the expected life) , starting at age 18 (when I did buy my first one) to the present, I would have bought just over 5 vacuum cleaners (and I haven’t) at a total cost of $500.  Don’t forget the filters, my model stated I would need to buy a new filter yearly.  I am still using the original one. How?  I do a good job of cleaning the filter each time I empty the canister.


This model runs closer to $500

This model runs closer to $500

The next appliance is one I don’t use, a stand mixer.  My grandmother had one, she bought it before I was born. It is a KitchenAid mixer which has been reissued in recent years.   Her’s is still running as it’s been handed down to a friend who uses it all the time, as did my grandmother.   Today Amazon is selling a white model KitchenAid the same color as my grandmothers for $325.  My grandmother saw her mixer as a lifetime purchase, and it’s still working 50+ years later.  Any  guess how long it is expected to last today?  FIVE TO NINE YEARS   I would never consider forking over $325 for something that might only last five years.  Using the same figures, let’s say I did buy a mixer for my first home I’ll use 7 years as the average, I would have had to buy 4.5 mixers which would have cost me $1,462.50.



Now comes the drip coffeemaker, nope I don’t drink coffee but again I’ll say I do.  The average drip coffee maker is only expected to last you FIVE TO TEN YEARS.  I know coffee drinkers who use their coffee pot all day long so this is one hard-working appliance.  If I had bought a new coffee maker every 7.5 years based on the average cost of $80, yes I know some sell for hundreds, but I’m thinking of the average person who is buying a common appliance here.  I would be on my 4th coffee maker at the cost of $320.  I’m thinking the coffee maker is cheaper than the coffee that is being consumed in some families.


Finally, the microwave.  for an average retail price of $100 you are expected to replace your microwave every SEVEN TO TEN YEARS.  I have never heard of a microwave lasting such a short amount of time.  A good friend recently replaced her microwave that she had for more than 20 years. The one I was given I couldn’t get to quit as much as I hated it.  But if I bought a  microwave every 8.5 years, I would have spent $300 and would be looking in the next couple of years to purchase another one.


The funniest thing about all these appliances isn’t the cost I would have incurred over my lifetime so far, $2,932.50. The funny thing is that we don’t need any of these, although with carpeting I don’t want to give up my vacuum.  I gave up drying my hair several years ago and let it air dry,  We had the old-fashioned percolator that worked just fine, and we lived for years without microwaves.  My grandmother, and her mother before her baked every day, but they both spent many years baking without the stand mixer.


But looking at these figures, these are for the things we mostly don’t need. What about the things we feel we do need?


A clothes washer, you could pay in the range of $300 for a top loading model or close to $1,000 for a front loading model. We are supposed to expect our machine to last only eight to twelve years. Using $600 as an average, I would have already spent $3,000


Your clothes dryer should only last TEN TO TWELVE YEARS, $800 seems average after looking at Best Buy, so far I would be out $2,300


Your refrigerator is expected to last you TEN TO FOURTEEN YEARS. A low-end side-by-side model runs $1,500, which after 32 years I would have spent $4,000


Your dishwasher THIRTEEN TO FIFTEEN YEARS, based on an average of $400 (yep there are some in the thousands but I eliminated those),  This year I would be out $900 and change.


Your stove will supposedly last you THIRTEEN TO SIXTEEN YEARS. I can’t see myself ever breaking down to pay the prices I saw online so low-balled this one at $400 would have added $883 to my totals.


The grand total for these appliances would have cost me over the course of 32 years a whopping $14,014.50 and that’s not buying top of the line appliances!

How many appliances could you live without?

How many appliances could you live without?


How many hours will you have to work for appliances you may not need?  How many vacations or experiences with your children could all this money have paid for?  Isn’t it time we embraced the local repair man and brought him back from retirement


Where do you think these broken appliances end up?




69 thoughts on “Planning to take your money, if you let them

  1. People are so lazy. I can live without a smart phone, how many models have come and gone now of smartphone? I have a dislike of making large purchases I do not need, if I have to I buy second hand. I think what a wasteful society we are being forced to buy items designed to break, which are difficult to recycle.

    • Alex, it boggles my mind now that I have seen those figures how much trash we build up from planned obsolescence. When I think about all the other disposable items, the little things most don’t even think about…there is no way we are going to get control of this issue unless everything changes from the sourcing of materials, manufacture, distribution, etc, to the death of the product. I’m not sure when smartphones became available as I always had a simple phone until recently. But it does seem as if every six months a new “better” model comes out and they are pitching for you to come upgrade.

  2. We have a great local repairman called “The Repair Guy”. He has kept our 30 year old dishwasher going and says that we should never replace it – it was built to last. The same with the rest of our appliances – we always by good quality used appliances and have managed to have to replace very few of them by maintaining them well or having them fixed. Our 35 year old vacuum (bought at an auction) just came back from the repair place too – and should last us the rest of our vacuuming days. Even our microwave (which I agree, is far from essential) is something that we picked up used for $5 and has lasted years and years. In our house, everything works hard and has paid for itself in the end (almost). At least non of it ever needed to be bought on credit or cause debt.

    • Heidi, you are very fortunate to have The Repair Guy close by. Around here as the older generation steps down there isn’t anyone to take over for them, sure we have a couple electricians or guys that specialize in plumbing that live locally, but the other repairs are mostly a distant memory. Between the cost of the newer appliances and the fact that most people buy on credit I can see the hole they are digging for themselves. I’m sure some of their things break before they are ever paid off, good to know you were able to find so many quality appliances used that work and didn’t need to go in debt to have them.

  3. Lois, I could get on a soaobox about this. When our oven died, the guy at Sears said they only last 12 years! So we bought our 1930s stove, which left us, still working!

    We had an expensive coffee maker die after 9 months, so we got a french press, which we still use.

    • Unbelievable! Bethany, where did you ever find a 1930s stove? I knew you would never keep replacing things that broke. I guess enough people replace broken appliances, maybe out of habit, because if everyone was like you these companies would have to change their ways or go out of business. :-)

      • Oh, and I’m already needing to repair the boiler on our espresso machine that was bought 3-4 years ago. It turns out that they are made with the assumption that people will rarely use them, and are a novelty. For those of use that use them daily, it’s either learn espresso machine repair, or buy a new one.

        • Jamie, it seems to be that way with most things today. Everything is so specialized, a pan to heat rice, another for meat, then there is the turkey roasters, etc. If we bought everything they try to convince us we need to stock a fully functioning kitchen we would need an inventory of what we had and where it was stored for that one day of the year it was intended to be used.

          I take it you figured out how to repair the espresso machine?

  4. My first microwave lasted for over 20 years and my next one lasted for about 3! I called in a repair person and was told the circuit boards aren’t replaceable. The service call cost twice as much as a new microwave. I make coffee daily, and no matter how much I spend on a drip coffee maker, they only last 1-2 years. I now have an espresso maker which has been going strong for 5 years, and a French press! So the moral is, drink stronger coffee :)

    • Dar, good moral. I don’t know enough about a french press except you can make coffee in it. I can’t believe a repair man charged you to tell you he couldn’t repair your microwave, that’s just wrong. Kathy mentioned the energy efficiency of appliances today, but I’m not sure a microwave is any more efficient today compared to the ones in the 80s that were finally affordable for the majority. Yes, they got smaller but the technology isn’t much different which means the only reason they are breaking down so soon is because it is planned during manufacturing.

  5. Some wonderful photos there – I love all the lost socks in a lanyard! My flatmate and I bought a washing machine in 2007 or 2008 – it just died on her. She looked into getting it repaired and seeing it’s out of warranty, the cost of call out + labour + parts meant that a new one was only a little more – it’s so annoying that this is the case!

    The other thing is that my second hand (surplus) appliances – there’s no market for them. No one wants them! I have one of those pictured pricey vacuums – oh how I love it. And it has a washable filter!

    • Sarah, it should never cost more to repair an appliance than to buy a new one! This is what’s wrong with consumerism today, we’ve pushed out most of the repair trade because it’s all disposable. That was a very short life for a washing machine, was it used to begin with? I have a few things I am trying to get rid of that I saved from the landfill, a not-flat screen tv, even a scanner but because the scanner doesn’t have a printer on it no one wants it.

      I hear those Dyson’s run fantastic but I couldn’t bring myself to pay that price for one. Glad to hear they live up to their advertising.

  6. Hi Linne. a good article. We deliberately buy old second hand appliances, not only because of the cost but for the quality. Our last washing machine was a brown 70’s one….still going when we bought our present one for $32, it was just getting too noisy. The parts put in these new appliances have such a short life expectancy purposely – we were given a flash new jug 2 years ago as a wedding present and it lasted 2 years.

  7. you are right. Who comes up with these numbers? and more than enough people buy top of the line, which comes out to be more expensive to fix and/or to replace. Our oven was original to the year our house was built (1966). We had to replace it this year as it stopped working. He did a fine job for 47 years!! I know nowdays appliances are not made to last, no matter how fancy or how much you pay for it.

    • Daniela, when I decided to write a post about the appliances I decided to do some homework and find out what each retails for. I’ve only bought one new refrigerator in my life, not counting the dorm-sized one, one toaster oven and one vacuum, I’ve never bought anything else new. You can imagine my surprise when I saw the prices of these things. I started with Best Buy went to Amazon to see if their prices were better. I found a fridge at $6,000. Seriously, that much to keep food cold? Someone has to be buying them, but I never will.

      47 years on an oven is good, more like it should be!

  8. So loved this post, I went into my Kitchen to see what make my own mixer was, It used to have a bowl but that got broken, but it adapts as a hand whisk .. I have had this over 30 yrs.. Its Moulinex on investigating the company is French and was founded in 1937.. Seems they know how to make things that are good quality, well they did back then as mine is still going strong and blended all the Broccoli soup I made :-)

    • Mmmm, soup. You made a good choice in Blender, Sue. I hadn’t heard of that brand but I can see we found appliances that have lasted much longer than the expectations I read about. I can’t picture you buying a mixer every couple of years if yours kept dying, I wouldn’t either.

  9. I recently got a 1970s (judging by the attire of the girl printed on the box, couldn’t find a date on the actual item) FOOD GRINDER at an estate sale. For ten bucks. It’s going to last me FOREVER. I recommend estate sales for everything, oh my goodness! The appliances are awesome.

    I gave up hair appliances and opted for a small handheld vacuum cleaner for my little hardwood floored apartment. I sweep up all of my cat’s fur-art and suck it up in the vac. Love it. It was like twenty bucks. I do have a blender and food processor. The processor was a gift and the blender was $60, new on Amazon. I have a crockpot I bought used off Craigslist for $10. I just Freecycled my toaster. I got a toaster oven for free from a coworker and gave it to my sister. I love being frugal!

    • Caitlin, I have never been to an estate sale or auction but I really should just to see what they have. That food grinder will come in very handy over your lifetime. I always wished I had one when making baby foods. Instead, I relied on my very old blender. It did the job so I can’t complain.

      I too gave up all hair appliances, how very freeing for me being as I had all sorts of stuff having been a hairdresser at one point. I had one of those little hand held vacuums (dustbuster) years ago, but it didn’t hold a charge and didn’t work very well, never bought another one. I didn’t own a toaster, but did have a toaster oven which I gave away too. It is fun being frugal and look at the money we will save. :-)

  10. GREAT POST!!! I do not watch those HGTV home improvement show where people renovate their kitchens with all new appliances…calling it “updating”…lol…Won’t be happenind at our home anytime soon…when we finally moved into our second home in 1999, we used all the appliances until they “died”…yes, they were late 60’s-early 70’s colors, but they still worked. I was raised, if it isn’t broken…it still works…keep it….same with cars etc… We have lived in our home fo 13 yrs, and we replaced the stove ( which was here 30 yrs!) in 2004,A burner went out the second year. The repairman was back several times replacing parts, but finally never came back because he could not figure out why it would not work, so the past 9 yrs I have a stove with only 3 burners.I learned to live with it, and it still is working-lol….How can young people afford to make it in this world when they are starting out if they have to keep on buying new things every few years-crazy

    • Robbie, I too was raised with if it isn’t broken it is good enough to keep using. We had so little trash for a family of 3, we had half a brown paper bag a week and that was before recycling was available! I should have been a little clearer about the fridge my grandmother wanted to update. She had a propensity to want the newest and best after feeling she grew up with nothing during the Great Depression. My grandfather while having similar experiences balanced her well by being the complete opposite. When it came to the fridge he refused until she finally convinced him it would save on electricity because she wanted a side-by-side model and would give up the chest freezer as part of the deal. When she had a new home for both the fridge and the freezer, he relented and bought her the new fridge.

      Your stove reminded me of a lemon I adopted. I remodeled the kitchen in my mobile home many years ago, I converted the stove from gas to electric, but refused to buy a new stove. I found someone who had one they said I could have for free. I took it, only to learn it didn’t work properly. The only temperature any of the burners would work on was medium-low. We found quickly you couldn’t even get a pot of water to boil on it. Instead of tossing it out we simply used the oven to make everything we wanted to eat, I never did find anyone who could fix it, every repair man shook their heads stumped.

      As for HGTV, I used to watch a lot of it. Like you I never watched those shows where they tear out the kitchen to update it. I enjoyed House Hunters International the most. I have this deep curiosity about places I have never visited. Most of the regular House Hunter programs just annoyed me as the needs of a huge walk in closet drove me crazy. I don’t remember the name of the other I liked, but it was one where people were looking to buy a house and would look at a house that was in bad shape and not fitting their needs only to see how it could be changed to fit their needs. I didn’t always like the end results but liked the outside the box mentality to take something not functional and make it work.

      I have no idea how young people just starting out can afford to make ends meet today. They sure can’t do it on the income I raised my boys on. Looking at that list I could see why everyone is so stressed and working ungodly hours missing time with their families. I feel so bad for them.

      • I love the show House International, too! My oldest daughter went to college in Germany, then she married a man from Sweden and now lives in England with my first grandson( he is 16months)-thankgoodness for skype!
        What got to me on those HGTV shows was how picky the people were about silly simple to change, for example, “I hate this color” …so pick up a paint brush-:-)
        I also meant to mention about your great post, think of ALL those broken things going into our landfills!

        • Yes, thank goodness for Skype.

          On many of those shows the people who are spotlighted come from money and want everything to be exactly as they would have done it. They may have grown up with family who paid for everything to be done for them and have no idea what a painting job entails, yes it’s easy, but they aren’t used to seeing through to the beauty underneath.

          Can you just imagine how many appliances are in our landfills? If my town of 7,000 people were to toss out a hair dryer every other year….I don’t want to picture what that would look like, or to expand that to the entire population. Then add in all the other appliances, TVs game systems, etc. No wonder we are running out of landfill space.

  11. Goodness, things like this make me so angry. I think they should reword that article, instead putting on average how long it takes someone to get bored of their appliances, and replace them. Unless people are bouncing their appliances off the ground, there’s no way they should only last that length of time.

    My father bought our house in 1973 and only in the last few years have the appliances been replaced. And they quite literally blew up before they were replaced! That’s over 30 years with the same appliances, and with 8 of us in the family, they’ve gotten a fair amount of usage.

    The only things that have been replaced in less time than that are the microwave and the hoover, although the first microwave lasted about 20 years, then we replaced one within 5 years but there were issues with that from the get go.

    I can’t understand this disposable mentality. People may as well be tearing up their money and using it to light the fire. It’s so daft. I also never saw the need for clothes dryers but I know that they are used quite regularly in the States. Clothes just feel so much nicer when they are air dried! :)

    • Eimear, I can reply now that I am done laughing. The picture of families picking up their major appliances and bouncing them off the floor cracked me up. You make a good point, besides the fact that today’s appliances are made to break, how we treat them can also play a part in how long they last.

      I found the article shocking in how short the life expectancy of new appliances are today. If I paid a thousand dollars for something I would expect it to last a lot longer than 10 years, I would want it to outlive me! And a $400 mixer, that better live to be passed on to the next generation.

      I think your father bought your home at a time when things were still built to last reasonably long. The generation buying homes and appliances were still of the mentality that everything should last, not like the younger generation (excluding you) who are used to disposable everything and accept this as the norm.

      I am still amazed at the fact that clothes dryers are not popular in Ireland with all your rain. My daughter-in-law refuses to use a clothes line because the clothes are stiff when dry. Her clothes dryer needs to be repaired so rather than use the clothesline that came with the house she hauls her wet laundry to my home to use the dryer in my building. I am working to get approval for her clothesline to be put in here for myself and the neighbors to use.

      Yes, money seems to be just as disposable as the appliances!

      • Trust me, I would expect them to outlive me also! It grieves me everytime I have to drop €400/€500 on a new laptop simply because I’ve wore mine completely out. They get fairly heavy usage but thankfully a little tlc makes them last a little bit longer.

        You’d be surprised about young people if you came over here actually. Now there are a minority, but the majority of young people in this country actually don’t have the disposable mentality, at least in my experience. I mean I have heard of a couple of young Americans (probably the minority though) who have come to study in Ireland, and they use paper plates for every meal, even though there’s proper plates in the press! That just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m certainly not tarnishing all Americans with the same brush, but I really hope that’s not a widespread mentality among my age group over there.

        Oh goodness I could not imagine ever using a clothes dryer! If you’re responsible for the washing in this country, you get very good at learning how to dodge showers! It’s just not a done thing over here, quite thankfully. We’re quite a windy country, so even if it’s been raining for the entire month, if you get a couple of hours dry, we get washing done. I especially can’t understand why clothes line can’t be used in the hotter states. My brother used to live in San Francisco and they actually were not allowed have a clothes line – apparently it brought down the reputation of the neighbourhood. I’d like someone to tell me I’m not allowed have a clothes line in my own back garden – they’d be getting an earful VERY fast!

        Sorry for the rant Lois, your blog posts always bring out my opinionated side! :)

        • Eimear, what a great rant!! I so need to visit Ireland, I want the freedom to have a clothesline and to be surrounded by people, young and old, who don’t see everything as disposable.

          I hate to disappoint you but the vast majority use paper plates on a regular basis. I hear how “It’s easier because there are no real dishes” to “the dishwasher is full so it’s paper plate night”. There are certain foods and types of meals that almost always call for paper plates around here. Marketing tries to convince us that any meal outside needs paper plates, such as barbeques or picnics, because it’s easier or safer than taking real dishes outside. Even if a meal is served on real dishes often dessert is served on paper plates to cut down on the dishes after. Also things like pizza seem to call for paper plates.

          Then we have newer “decorative” paper plates so Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays people eat off paper plates for both their meals and desserts. There is a huge market for paper plates here, along with disposable cups, don’t get me started on those. We have dispensers to give each person who needs a drink of water their own clean disposable cup to drink out of. I hate all of it. I bought a few extra”real” plates at a flea market to have when I have guests and share them with family members who need more dishes for a special occasion. I am not going to make a special holiday meal and serve it on paper plates.

          Eimear, I can just picture you standing up to someone who tried to tell you a clothesline was illegal. :-) Good for you, no please come over here and help change things in my country.

          • Lois, I just wanted to say that I actually bought a set of plates just for Halloween. We have a yearly party, and I couldn’t justify throwing dishes away every year when they are just as easily washed. It does bother me when I’m at other peoples’ houses and the paper plates are brought out, but it’s also rude to say anything…

          • Jamie, what a great investment to buy Halloween dishes, when you host a party every year, it is better than disposable. I have gone the other route by buying generic dishes that are plain enough to go with any holiday or celebration. I agree it is rude to point out waste when we are a guest in another home. Some days I really have to bite my tongue when I see the amount of disposable items many have.

          • Lois, I’m here squirming while reading about the paper plates! That’s just craziness. One thing I do notice in Ireland is that if there’s a party, the adults use real plates and everyone brings a few over, and the children are given little hard plastic plates that can be reused. It’s not ideal to have more plastic, but since they are reused umpteen times, it seems like a fair trade off. I don’t think I’ve ever actually used paper plates, except for arts and crafts with my niblings! (nieces and nephews in case no one has heard that word)

            Also last time I checked and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought once dishwashers are full, one turns them on and magically gets clean dishes again. I wasn’t aware they were used instead to store dirty dishes ;)

            I’m sorry Lois, I try my hardest to not be judgemental because one never knows what another’s story is, but I just find this disposable mentality to be so daft. Do people not actually see the harm they are doing? I do believe though that people think they’re doing so well just because they recycle, never mind that reduce and reuse come before recycling. I’m trying to be tolerant, but things like this make me so so angry.

            I think people would be afraid of me after standing up in support of the clothesline – or think I’m the crazy lady with all the cats ;) but honestly, no one in any part of the world will ever dictate to me how I choose to dry my clothing, but maybe that’s my stubborn post-teenage rebel phase shining through ;)

          • Eimear, I didn’t realize how different things were in the US from Ireland on the issue of paper plates until you mentioned it. I knew my telling you would earn me another rant and you didn’t disappoint me :-) I am so happy to see your values are in the right place and really do wish you, and your fellow Irish citizens, could teach my country a thing or two. I believe you can see why I feel like an outsider in my own country. I have never paid for paper plates, while I will admit to buying some plastic ones years ago that I washed and reused for years for outside eating when my boys were very young rather than take the breakables outside. But when someone hands me a paper plate on a holiday to eat a meal it feels so wrong. They are difficult to handle, things soak through them, and I just don’t like them in general, not to mention the environmental costs associated with the production and disposal of so many paper products. I feel as if I am the only one around who does see the environmental problems with disposable dishes and cutlery. Yes, many people also buy plastic utensils they use once and toss too so they don’t have to wash the silverware.

            Ha, dishwashers are famous for storing dirty dishes, I know someone who has two dishwashers, one for the dirty dishes and one they pull clean dishes out of when they eat. They never actually put the dishes away, just transfer them from one dishwasher to another. Me, I hate them because I would rather just do the dishes when finished eating and put them away than have to come back later to put them away.

            I would so love to talk to you more on the differences between our countries, I think you could teach me quite a bit. And please keep your rebellion, we need your generation to carry on and repair the damage caused by my generation.

  12. Hi Lois…I agree with much of what you say about things being built to have a shorter shelf life these days—but there are other considerations. And anytime we buy things we don’t need–especially when we don’t have the cash to buy them outright, is problematic. But sometimes the time and convenience is worthy of the trade off. For example the time and energy to take clothes to a laundromat are often offset from the cost of the machine. That’s one convenience I happily pay for. Plus, old refrigerators are notorious for using lots and lots of electricity and some old ones still use freon. I tend to believe that the quality of the item helps to determine if it will have a longer/better life. And finally, just because a person replaces an item, doesn’t always mean that item ends up in the landfill–I always try to repurpose any item that I no longer need or want as long as it is still useable to someone else.

    Of course I also believe that in order to make the best decision it is good to have the facts to compare, so your workup has a lot of value. I’m always for conscious, aware choices as a guiding premise and it’s important to consider all of the tradeoffs that come with a purchase…but with that said I like lots of the appliances that I have and I’m willing to consider their value to the quality of my life and act accordingly.

    But I do have to laugh when I see some of the items you list here that are completely useless and crazy to me–but that’s me. There’s a fine line between something being completely useless to one person and a valuable and important tool to another. It just helps to know the difference between the two for ourselves. ~Kathy

    • Hi Kathy, you made a lot of good points, as aways. Many of us do try to repurpose items we have that are no longer working. My grandparents had a very old fridge gutted and used the fridge in the basement to hold laundry supplies and used the rest of the space for storage. The problem comes when we can’t figure out how to repurpose or can’t find a new home for something that no longer works. I have a hard time thinking anyone holds on to a broken hair dryer or can find a new home for it, it will get tossed in the trash bag without much thought. And how do people repurpose a broken clothes dryer?

      You mentioned the newer energy efficient appliances. Yes, they are much more efficient, but what happens when they break? The life expectancy of appliances was listed for the appliances you buy today. Why do the energy efficient appliances have a shorter life than the appliances we grew up with?

      Like you I happily use the coin operated washer/dryer in the building. For me it’s a good trade off to know many people are using the same sets of machines rather than each of us buying a set to have in our apartments.

      Thanks, Kathy.

      • Hi Lois….thank YOU as always for your gracious reply to my alternate perspective! One other thing I think would be useful to counteract the waste from old appliances (and anything for that matter) is the “sharing” mentality. For example, most neighborhood garages contain a bunch of tools that are only used once a week if then–doesn’t it make so much sense that neighbors share them? We actually told a number of our neighbors that if they ever need to borrow our electric lawnmower, weed wacker, trimmers, ladders, etc….to let us know. Of course we are one of the few on our street that actually does our own yard work. I guess it depends on where you live but there are plenty of things on the inside of a house that could be shared too…but most of us don’t think that way…Thanks for doing your part to remind us all that we do have choices–and to think about them before we buy anything!

        • Kathy, you are so right. I so hope to see more embrace the sharing mentality. This is something I have found living in the apartment building I chose. We all have limited space for storage and with our different interests held on to certain things as important to us. That unique blend of what was important to hold on to works well as someone here usually has what another needs. I have only bought one tool for gardening, a small hand clipper, as another neighbor being huge into gardening held on to all of hers and shares. As I work on a lot of furniture it’s not uncommon for me to loan out a screwdriver or wrench, even glue. A few people have freezers and have offered to let those without them store something that won’t fit in their smaller fridges. Yes, even the smaller things in our homes could be shared. One neighbor has 3 different slow cookers and has offered me any of them when I start to put up food for this winter.

          I knew you would share what you had. :-) Isn’t it sad that so many hire out for their yard care? My son just bought a home on a steep hill. His wife worried about him getting hurt mowing and asked the landscaper who does most of the properties in their neighborhood. He didn’t even need to look at their yard, he did it for the last owner, he quoted them his price and my son laughed and said there was no way he would shell out that much money for his yard. He cuts his own and laughs that it’s the best workout he gets all week. At the same time, while it’s costly to pay for lawn care, I see it as a way to allow someone to have a business they love and one set of tools ends up caring for so many homes.

  13. ah Lois…so wise…Indeed you are “preaching to the converted”… Not that I am a patch on living as wisely as you, but I do indeed have my (our) moments.

    almost everything is truly made to break within months/one yr at most…………AND, as said up above, half or more of the time, even if only six months, parts are no longer available.

    you mentioned using a percolator…I always loved them. few yrs ago got an beautiful electric one for Christmas. I think it was hundred dollars. well, it was great. however, about time warranty was over, the little bulb on top (where the coffee bubbles up into, and if not there the coffee would shoot out), broke right off. phoned the company, they were going to charge me twenty dollars for one..I major complained. sent me one for free. few months later, it broke again. this time they insisted on twenty dollars. It is now sitting unused in my cupboard. I keep hoping I will spot one at a garage sale for twenty cents. Come on… NO WAY, can I buy a new one every few months.

    re the drip coffee makers. this I use. found if I paid fifty dollars for one, it would only last till the warranty was up. Last one I scrounged and waited for sale, paid fourteen dollars. it is several yrs old.

    really, it is a con job, the more “energy efficient” something is, the less it lasts/more it costs/more it costs to repair

    oh..i COULD go on and on, but you have said it well…

    and although I (we) are not nearly up to your standards, I feel I have lucked across a kindred spirit in these matters (grin)..

    • Lynn, you said you are not living as wisely as I am and again not up to my standards, please don’t compare where we are on this journey I would hate to feel any of my readers feel pressured to match how I live. I only want to share my experiences so people who want to make some changes can see there are options. That said, I know you have made many changes you are happy with and I’m happy for you.

      How sad about your percolator, ours was much loved and used and like most things was still working when my grandparents passed away. I don’t like coffee but loved watching the coffee bubble up into the top when I was young. I don’t know what it was about that simple thing that amazed me so. As for your drip coffee maker, I think you found the secret to buying appliances, buy them used. We don’t have such an attachment to them which for some reason seems to make them last longer.

      Isn’t it a contradiction to make something energy efficient and build in a “self destruct” date? The know how to build things to last, yet they choose not to, it’s sad.

      • yup, self destruct date, you pegged it.

        re the percolator, I too grew up with every household with a perc…I loved watching that coffee bubble up to the bulb…LOVED IT, for some reason.

        that was why I wanted one. ah well, I will leave it in the cupboard, until I find a bulb/lid at a garage sale. bound to happen sooner or later.

        • Lynn, it must be those simple things only a child understands as fascinating. Instead of watching just for a lid keep your eyes open for another percolator maybe you’ll find one in good working order, then you will find another lid with the bubble and can keep it for a back-up.

          • yes, good suggestion.

            I am amazed at times what is found at the garage sales/second hand stores. I laugh sometimes, because they are not always priced cheaper than a “good sale at a store”..One has to keep an eye on that.

            on the other hand sometimes they are..

            Zellers (here) has a big greenhouse/sells bedding plants and shrubs every spring. then at a certain point, they quit watering /basically leave what is left to dry and die, and chuck in trash (I assume). I did buy a shrub when they were reduced down, but saw they were getting bone dry, so figured I’d be tricky.

            kept my eye out for when they put the lock on the greenhouse gate. went to customer service and asked to speak to the manager. when he came I said I’d noticed they were closed but i’d be willing to buy most of the shrubs left for twenty five or fifty cents each. (I figured they just needed water)..He was flabbergasted …but agreed to take me to look them over. Got all the “shrubs”, about twenty , and he charged me twenty five cents each. … I know they will mostly not survive our winter, but for that price, will be happy to enjoy them now/their flowers. and some will survive.

            I had always suspected these places throw this stuff out when they got tired of watering, but had not quite convinced myself it was so. now I think so.

            while this is not exactly like your topic, it is a horrible waste , similar to your planned failure observations, that seem to be what most new purchases are.

            I am still a bit gobsmacked they would just chuck this stuff out, rather than offer it to someone free. I think that is evil.

            (one of the shrubs I got for twenty five cents is a cranberry, and it is the sort which should survive the winter here)

          • Lynn, I believe you are right, I have found so many things tossed out at the end of season. I’m glad you got the shrubs and kept them out of the landfill. If you cover them this winter they may survive and if they don’t they can become mulch or composted, a much better option than ending up in the trash.

            I like how you believe tossing things out rather than offering it for free is “evil” can’t think of a better word, but if they advertised everything drastically reduced price or for free people would wait until it was free and not buy them earlier, cutting profits way too much.

            I am jealous of your cranberry bush!!

  14. I LOVE the last question which seems to me to be the pressing issue of our mother earth these days: exactly where do these end up!? And think of the scores of countries with NO Electricity even and the waste that we THROW Away after its ‘broken’. Things should be made to withstand the test of time as they were before. The unbreakables of grandmas stuff passed… The same 17 year old appliances my mother still choses to struggle with cuz refuses to buy NEW WHY?! Cause they’re built now to be replaced and upgraded in months year(s) to come. The almighty $$ instead of the Almighty Father. Creating for value is a thing of the past. Even when we had money and I purchase many brand new over priced ‘high quality’ this and thats, the end result was the SAME as purchasing one of ‘lesser value or quality’ from ‘walmart’… It all ends up broke or in the trash. Its a frustration that boggles my mind!!

    • Jeanine, I didn’t realize I would hit such a nerve with my rant, but it’s nice to see that I am in good company. I have plenty of old things around my house that I have found used, a little metal pot to heat water for tea is so old it was made in the USA! We are so fortunate to live where we have choices in everything yet we end up overwhelmed and end up thinking we need everything. When I saw that article all I could see, beyond my shock at the life expectancies, was an overflowing landfill of broken things that were made to break. Thanks for your rant. :-)

  15. Great post! I recently had a relative ask when I was going to replace my stove. She “updates ” her home every few years. I am using my grandmother’s stove. She left it to me in the 1970″s. It works just fine and I will use it until it dies. I believe things should last a lifetime if they are properly treated. I had to replace my washer about ten years ago. My old one was a second hand purchase which gave me about 20 years of good service.
    I also believe for me there are many things I can live without. I have never has a coffeemaker,dish washer,or hair dryer.
    I would have to give great thought before purchasing any item. I live in a small town in a rural area.
    We still have trades people that repair and replace most everything. Stores take trade-ins and recondition and sell them.
    It sounds as if new appliances are made to be obsolete.

    • Mary, it’s great that you inherited your stove and have kept it running against the pressure to update. I too think things should be made to last a lifetime. Now all we have to do is convince the manufacturers we would like them a lot more if they made a product to last but made the rest of their profits from selling replacement parts when needed.

      I’m curious how the repair people find a way to fix some of the items that have no replacement parts available thanks to decisions not to sell them by the manufacturers.

      Yep, obsolete is built into the plans of everything made today.

  16. Great post. I’ve had my microwave for 10 years and it shows no sign of slowing down (and it has a built-in toaster, awesommmmme), and I’ve had my hair dryer for 20+ years (although I rarely use a hair dryer to be honest). I’ve never had a quality vacuum cleaner so I can see how those die so quickly these days. Funny, in the UK and Oz, a lot of folks consider clothes dryers a luxury. My boyfriend is from Oz and never understood what I’d need it for :)

    The problem is not only the planned obsolescence of appliances and electronics but the fact that a lot of repairmen/women are unable to fix the newer items because of the parts and computerized components/motherboards in them. Or, the stores you buy from refuse to do the repairs (see Cherie’s post at

    Stand mixers, for example, like the famed KitchenAid, are made of plastic components, so they break much easier than the stainless components of the older versions that lasted forever. I remember when the awesome Delonghi stopped being made, the last one with stainless components, and that was the reason I never invested in one (besides the fact that I knew deep down that my hands, a spoon, and my 15 year old hand mixer was better than a $400 item that took up loads of space!). My first iMac computer lasted 10 years – far beyond anyone’s belief when I finally recycled it at Free Geek – and when I replaced it with the current MacBook Air? Within one year I’ve taken it into the Apple store to have three plastic keys replaced already. Oy….

    Good rant :)

    • EcoGrrl, I have to say I never looked close at the new KitchenAid mixers. I just assumed they were being made with the same materials. They are plastic? How is that supposed to hold up when one uses it for heavy kneading of breads and lots of baking?

      I will check out Cherie’s post. I know even those who want to repair things today are refused any of the schematics or replacement parts to do so. I get that a business wants to make a profit, but the way they are going about it it’s no wonder we are depleting the resources available and quickly filling up the landfill areas.

      Do you think the problems you are having with your new MacBook were due to changes made after Steve Jobs left?

  17. Do you think the appliances they make today are not as high quality as the ones they make now? My 91 year old grandmother is always saying that.
    My washing machine and fridge are from 1987 and still work. In my old townhouse, we had a hand me down washing machine from 1978 that was still working when we left it there in 2007.
    It pains me when people replace their still-working appliances with new ones just for asthetic reasons and send their old ones to the landfill.
    Thanks for your insightful posts.

    • Katie, your grandmother is right, things were made better in the past. But the quality of what we buy today is planned to break down at a predetermined time to keep us buying and as a result to keep selling more product. You were fortunate to inherit appliances that were older and continued to work for you. Hold on to them as long as you can because the new ones will never last as long. All in the name of a profit for the company.

      I’m with you, it pains me too to see people upgrading just for the sake of a newer model. At least my grandmother found a home for the fridge she didn’t want before purchasing the newer model.

  18. Goodness it’s expensive to live. I own a hair dryer that my mom owned before me. I never use it. It’s in a drawer somewhere, I think. I have never used hair dryers as my hair doesn’t like them. I must be hard on vaccums because the last five years alone I’ve had to buy 7 of them. Course I paid less then 100 for each of them, but still adds up. And with 3 animals I need my vaccum. I’ve never owned a stand mixer. My mother has/had one for years. Over 50 years I know, probably close to 60. She even has the bowls it came with yet. Now that’s one good mixer. I used to be pretty hard on coffee makers also. I’d say I had to get one almost every year. Cheapies, but still counts. The best one I had I got as a gift years ago. It was a Brune (sp?) Cost almost 200, lasted me for more then 5 years. Now I hardly use one and I go to Tim Hortons every morning. My one vice. ;-) Microwaves last me on average 5 years or so. I’ve never bought a new washer and dryer. Either the men I married had some or I bought used. Hmm might be same thing. haha! What could I live without?
    The mixer and have. The coffee pot. Even the microwave. I hate laundrymats so I need my washer and dryer.

    • Jackie, it is expensive to live. That was just the appliances, add in the TVs, DVD player (or upgrade to the blue ray), game consoles, furniture…..When do we have time to just enjoy life, we are too busy working to buy new things that keep breaking down or are no longer compatible with the other appliance we just had to buy. I feel sorry for families today, everything is going up in price.

      Seven vacuums is a lot, I think you need to try a new brand :-) I used a hand mixer that had belonged to my grandmother, she didn’t use it often as she got older and her arthritis bothered her so. Your mother sounds like my grandmother, they bought things expecting them to last and they did. I hate microwaves, just never got used to them or the taste of anything in it, I received 2 as gifts, the second I was fortunate enough to be able to pass on to my son when he got his own place.

      I’m with you on hauling out my clothes to go to a laundromat, but having a laundry room in the building I’m happy with. At least I can sit outside or do my dishes while I’m doing my laundry. I think if I had to even the washer I could live without, just hand wash everything now that it’s just me. I never bought a new washer or dryer either. So you and I are pretty much in agreement, the washer/dryer and the vacuum we need and we can find them used. Boy we’ve saved a lot of money over the years. :-)

      • I am for sure glad to have a washer / dryer. however, if I had to live, longterm, without a washer – dryer, I would pare down my clothing significantly, and make sure it was always easily washed/hung dry on hanger. years ago, when I was just out on my own, this is what I did. Lived in an apartment which had a laundry room, but one had to put coins in, and I was saving every penny.

        • Lynn, I like having access to a washer and dryer and yes mine are coin operated, but if I need something and don’t have a full load I still hand wash to save on water and electricity.

  19. Wow! What a powerful message! I have come to realize myself that the first washing machine we purchased lasted much longer than the one after and after…
    You are so right, do we really need all these appliances?
    Thanks for sharing this important information!

    • It is true that the older models lasted much longer than what we buy today, I once rented an apartment which had a fridge older than my mother! It’s really sad when you think about the natural resources used to make all our appliances and then they build-in an obsolete date to the parts so we have to buy another one.

      • I agree Lois, “It’s really sad when you think about the natural resources…etc”

        we have often discussed this at our home…and are quite perturbed and fed up…. supposedly there is one after another “energy saving” appliance and vehicle. however, what is/was the cost to secure the natural materials to make them? what was the environmental and human cost?

        a big gripe in our house is all those adds about those “wonderful” “efficient” “GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT” electric cars..their batteries are made fr incredibly toxic / often rare earth elements….NOT good for anyone/anything. Often once the battery dies , you must throw out the electric car, because to replace the battery, costs as much as the car (seriously bad)..

        and another… what is going on with all these “new and improved gas mileage claims?” (do you have those commercials in the U.S., or is it only in Canads?

        we see commercials like…improved gas mileage, 28 mpg / 33 mpg, or something like that.

        we have a twelve yr old ford focus (wagon – mini ), and no lie, on several trips it got 45 mpg.

        now, how is that even possible?…so old, and better gas mileage than these new ones?

        what the heck is the story?

        • Lynn, I think I read somewhere that our cars use more fossil fuels in making it than we will ever use while owning it. I wish I had more of an engineers background or knowledge because I keep picturing when we were kids putting playing cards in the spokes of our tires for the noise. That image leads to a car that while the tires are spinning have something similar that would charge the battery and a shut off when the battery is full. No gas needed. Maybe your husband could work with that and become the next big inventor. He can take all the credit for it. :-)

          Talking about the human cost, it is huge. My neighbor is slowly dying from her previous work. She worked both in a plastics factory and in a chair factory where they did caning and the fumes ate away at her lungs. She isn’t rich and is drowning in medical bills, and that wasn’t working with some of the toxic products we hear about today.

          Personally, I believe we have enough stuff floating around that could be adopted and used. If we embraced the used mentality, think of how many already use Craigslist or Freecycle, everything could be traded and kept going by those who can repair them. Past generations didn’t have big stores to shop in, they made do and made a lot of their own things.

          I had a early 80s model Toyota Corolla which got 40 mpg city/45 highway. I drove it from PA to Mn on one tank (10 gallons) of gas. The problem comes when Reagan was president and he rolled back all the mileage standards. They know how to make fuel efficient cars, they just don’t want to. Do you see a connection between auto manufacturers and the oil industry?

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