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The five questions to ask when buying an electrical appliance

You need a fridge, a washing machine or an oven... and you end up in a shop, whether online or in person. The variety of models is overwhelming. What should you take into account when choosing one appliance over another?

There are countless variables that make each electrical appliance different. But one of the most important when it comes to choosing the right model for you is efficiency. That's why, in addition to its impact on the wellbeing of the planet, we think it's important that you gain a better understanding of the energy labels on electrical appliances before considering any other questions.

In 1995, the European Union started requiring manufacturers to use these labels, which are now obligatory on most electrical appliances. The information that they provide is absolutely essential.

Once you understand the importance of the energy label, you are ready to ask direct questions. And we can give you clear answers.


1. What are you going to use it for?

Just like the crucial matter of the label, a lot of people forget about this all-important question. In fact, before you buy anything, the question you should ask yourself is not what it is for, but what you are going to use it for. A fridge is for storing food at a low temperature, but what are you going to use it for? Is it going to be your household's main fridge or is it just going to be an extra fridge for storing drinks and things that won't fit elsewhere?

The answer to this question will quickly rule out a large number of models and determine many of the features that you’re looking for. We recommend making a list of your specific needs. If you're planning to buy a microwave but you already have an oven, you probably don't need a microwave with a grill. If the washing machine is going to be in an isolated, separate room, perhaps noise level isn't such an important factor. If you have limited space, 2 in 1 combinations (e.g. washer + dryer) are a good option.

This is also a prime question to ask when choosing the capacity of the model. A washing machine's drum capacity and an oven's output are factored into the price: the more you want, the more expensive it will be. That's why we recommend choosing a capacity that meets your needs: neither too big nor too small.

The importance of other aspects, like whether it’s a smart device (one that connects to the Internet) or the design and ergonomics of the device will also vary greatly depending on how you answer this question.

“Make a list of the things that you need the electrical appliance to do for you. Use this to help you choose between models”

2. How much can you afford to spend?

So far, by focusing on the energy label, we have helped you make a rational decision about why to purchase an electrical appliance. It is essential that we take these two points into consideration before looking at price. We know how much it matters, but our advice is that you should never base your decision on price alone (no matter how cheap something seems, you will spend more in the long run if you can't use it).

Budget is a deciding factor when you’re buying electrical goods, that's why we recommend that you always have a price range in mind when you go to buy your appliance. This will help you to compare different models and brands. Don't forget about additional costs such as delivery and installation, these can soon add up.

Above all, remember that the expense doesn't end when you leave the shop. Electrical appliances consume energy, and different models consume different amounts of energy, which means a different impact on your bill.


3. What is a guarantee?

The matter of cost doesn't end when you purchase your electrical appliance, but nor is considering the impact on your electricity and gas bills the end of the matter. There's a third factor: breakdowns. How long are you covered for by a guarantee? In the European Union, the legal minimum is two years, but many manufacturers choose to offer a longer guarantee. The shop where you make your purchase may also offer its own guarantee.

Suffice to say, just like the rest of the conditions, always choose the electrical appliance with the best guarantee. But don't just look at the length of the guarantee. Try to investigate exactly what it covers and even how easy it will be to get spare parts for the appliance once the guarantee runs out.

“The cost of an electrical appliance isn't just its price: you need to factor in energy consumption (you will pay for this in your electricity and gas bills) and possible breakdowns”

4. What do other people who bought it think?

We're not saying you should blindly trust the opinions of others, but a fourth question to keep in mind is how other users rate a specific model. Importantly: only consider opinions on the model that you are going to buy, ignore opinions on other models and, in particular, on the brand in general.

These days, the Internet acts as the mother of all reviewers and a quick Google search is all it will take for you to find a variety of reviews and forums.


5. Is it environmentally friendly?

Of course your needs are important, but don't make the mistake of forgetting that your needs depend on something greater: the needs of the planet where we live.

We are all responsible for seeking out sustainable electrical appliances that limit their carbon footprint and which are made of materials that are easy to recycle when we have finished using them. By favouring these models over the rest, we are contributing to technological advances that care about the environment.

Don't put it off. Before you leave the shop, make sure you are fully aware of what to do with your electrical appliance when you want to get rid of it (whether it is fully or partially recyclable, which kind of recycling centre to take it to, etc.).


The best electricity tariff for your electrical appliance

The price of your electrical appliance will be clear because you will be paying it upfront. The length of the guarantee will also be clear. But just how much will you be paying on your electricity bill? There is no simple answer to this question—it will depend on how much you use it and on your tariff.

Not all electricity tariffs are the same. Some cost the same at all hours of the day. Others let you choose specific times when electricity is free for you. For example, if you know which days or times you tend to use your washing machine (or your oven or vacuum cleaner), a tariff such as Endesa's Tempo Happy is for you:

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