Is it More Environmentally Friendly to Replace Old Appliances?


Home appliances can guzzle energy, especially older models designed in a different era of technology. If you have been wondering if it’s better to repair those old appliances or buy newer, more energy-efficient ones, we’re here to help.

When is it time to upgrade your appliances?

When your appliances start to break down, most people think first of the inconvenience — and reasonably so. As the clock ticks on your rapidly defrosting freezer meats, it’s hard to consider much else. An American Home Shield Warranty is one way to make your life easier. We will assign a qualified local contractor who can diagnose the issue and recommend repair or replacement depending on the age and performance of the appliance. And if we can’t repair the covered appliance, we will replace it for you and handle the removal of the defective item. 

First, take a moment to reflect on the environmental implications of your decision. Are you extending the life of an energy-guzzling appliance that’s driving up your power bill and exacerbating your carbon footprint? What is worse for the planet: contributing to technology waste by throwing appliances away or keeping an inefficient machine running? Unfortunately, it’s not always clear — so let’s take a closer look.

  1. How old is my appliance?

Old appliances are seldom as energy-efficient as their newer counterparts. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, newer appliances are typically built to run using less power. If you’ve got appliances in your home that are more than 10 or 15 years old, they may be both expensive to repair and unnecessarily detrimental to the environment.

  1. Does your appliance still work well?

There’s a distinct difference between an appliance that works and an appliance that works well. An appliance that runs smoothly will require less power to function, meaning less strain on precious resources. Performance and the sounds produced by your appliances can be a good indicator of how well your machine works.

  1. Will an appliance upgrade be worthwhile?

For an upgrade to be worthwhile, you’ll need to weigh up the economic and environmental costs of replacing your appliance. For example, if your 15-year-old fridge needs new coils, a complete replacement may be more practical than spending half the cost of a new one to keep an old, inefficient appliance running.

The environmental benefits of replacing old appliances

Sometimes, replacing appliances is necessary, and other times, it’s simply a matter of upgrading your home appliances to be kinder on the planet. Regardless of the case, replacing old appliances can be environmentally friendly, thanks to the wonders of modern technology. Here are the environmental benefits of upgrading common home appliances.

New vs. old refrigerators

When it comes to upgrading your refrigerator, switching to a new product can have good implications for both the environment and your back pocket.

According to ENERGY STAR, an old refrigerator uses about 33% more energy than a new model with ENERGY STAR certification. You stand to save $144 in average energy costs over five years when upgrading from a 20ft3 refrigerator purchased between 2001 and 2010. 

What’s better is that you’ll also avoid around 411lbs of carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere over that same period. ENERGY STAR also estimates that properly recycling your old unit could save the atmosphere from an additional 1,680lbs of carbon pollution.

New vs. old stoves

Few people are as attached to their fridges, washers and microwaves as they are to their gas stoves, but old gas cooktops are far from the most efficient option for cooking. 

According to ENERGY STAR, traditional gas cooktops have an efficiency of approximately 32%, whereas modern induction cooktops are around 85% efficient according to their performance criteria. Induction cooktops use coils to create a magnetic field that generates heat directly within compatible cookware, rather than wasting energy by heating the surrounding air as conventional stoves do. 

New vs. old clothes washers and dryers

While necessary, clothes washers and dryers can be significant energy drains in the home. According to ENERGY STAR, clothes washers have dramatically improved efficiency and functionality in recent years. A new clothes washer uses around 14 gallons of water per load, up to 75% less water than agitator washers did 20 years ago. These newer machines that bear the Energy Star label use 25% less energy.

As far as clothes dryers go, ENERGY STAR anticipates that if all dryers sold were certified energy-efficient, 22 billion pounds of carbon pollution could be prevented annually. That’s as much as the emissions created by two million cars. 

New vs. old dishwashers

Dishwashers use both large amounts of water and electricity, so it’s important to make sure yours is energy-efficient.

ENERGY STAR estimates that by switching to a newer, certified dishwasher, you can save an average of 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime. ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers are also 12% more energy-efficient than non-certified models. Models that are particularly old,  manufactured before 1994, also cost an additional $35 a year on utility charges and 10 gallons of water each cycle.

Despite this, dishwashers are still usually more efficient than handwashing. A new ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher will use around a quarter of the energy usage of handwashing and save you around 8,000 gallons of water each year. 

New vs. old microwave ovens

Microwaves are an often-replaced household appliance, as their relatively low price tag makes replacement more convenient than repair. Unlike other appliances, they aren’t ENERGY STAR certified, making it a little trickier to pick a new microwave that’s environmentally friendly.

Thanks to new standards implemented in 2016, new microwave ovens have been built to use less power in standby mode. Standards for energy consumption for microwaves in standby mode tightened by about 75% for countertop microwave ovens and in-built microwave ovens, with hopes to prevent 38 million tons of carbon pollution over the next three decades.

Another benefit is the smart technologies of newer microwave models, with sensors to help you avoid overcooking food.

When not to replace an appliance

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While it’s true that new appliances tend to be more energy-efficient than older ones, replacing an old, still-functioning appliance with a more efficient one comes with its own burdens.

After all, your personal environmental footprint extends further than the home. Some things to consider are the resource costs associated with manufacturing and delivering your replacement, as well as the environmental toll of sending your appliance to the dump. 

According to a UN Environmental Program-sponsored report, around 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste was generated in 2020 rather than being recycled. To put this into perspective, that’s approximately 57 billion dollars worth of electronics, including appliances.

While it’s not always easy to track the direct impact of this, it’s safe to say that in some cases, it’s better to stick to the old model — especially if it’s still working well.

How to thoughtfully dispose of old appliances

Once your appliance has reached the point of retiring, it’s time to start thinking about how to dispose of it in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Here are some options to keep your appliance out of the landfill for a bit longer:

  • Sell it: Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are full of people looking to purchase cheap broken appliances and flip them for a profit. 
  • Give it away: If your appliance is still in working condition, check to see if any local non-profits may be interested in giving it a second life.
  • Recycle: Many cities offer recycling programs that will allow you to recycle large appliances. In some cases, you may even receive cash from a scrap metal recycler.

To replace or to repair?

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. With the exception of safety concerns, it’s almost always more environmentally and economically friendly to keep appliances until they start to act up. Believe it or not, simply knowing when to repair and when to replace your appliances is a piece of information that will help you on your sustainability journey.

Given the monetary and environmental implications of their initial investment, large appliances such as fridges, washers and ovens should be preserved for as long as reasonably possible. It’s generally recommended that you repair your larger appliances for the first five to 10 years, depending on how often they’re used. If you’ve purchased something of exceptionally high quality, this period can extend to up to 20 years.

Smaller appliances like microwaves are likely only worth repairing if they’re relatively new or under five years old. The exception would be if the repair was quite simple and could be carried out without paying too much out of pocket.

Still unsure?

If you’re still scratching your head trying to decide what to do, let us take care of it for you. With an American Home Shield Warranty Plan, we will assign a qualified contractor to diagnose your appliance-related issues and suggest the best course of action. 

Whether it’s repair or a total replacement, you’ll rest easy knowing that you won’t be left out of pocket or without an appliance.

How to Turn Your Garage Into a Room


We would all love to have a little extra living space in our homes, right? Before you consider moving to a larger house or hiring a contractor to create additional space, think about how you’re currently using your garage. Yes, your garage is great for storing extra stuff, but have you ever thought of converting it into a room? You can convert your garage into an office, extra bedroom, kids’ playroom, or even a man cave. Turning your garage into an apartment is a great idea too. The options are almost endless.

You might be wondering if turning your garage into a living space will add to the value of your home. The short answer is that it usually doesn’t. However, if you need more room, a garage renovation will be cheaper than adding a brand-new addition. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of an addition is $46,480 as of 2021. The cost to convert your garage into a living space is a much more affordable option—anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.

Let’s take a look at some garage conversion ideas and the garage conversion costs that you’ll need to keep in mind as you design and budget for your renovation.

Cheap And Not-So-Cheap Ideas for Converting Your Garage

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Maybe you already know exactly what type of garage conversion you have in mind. Perhaps you’re interested in converting your garage into living space, or maybe you want to convert the whole garage into a mother-in-law unit that you can rent out to generate some extra income. Or maybe you’re tinkering with the idea of turning your garage into a gym, a bedroom, or a home office. Dream big!

Whatever garage conversion ideas you have, remember that some types of garage conversions are less expensive than others. Let’s take a look.

Typically, the cheapest type of garage conversion will just involve blocking up the garage doors and finishing out the walls, floors, and ceiling with insulation, drywall, carpet, or other flooring material. Think of a bonus room, family room, playroom, game room, or man cave. Converting a garage into a bedroom costs less than, say, a full apartment with a bathroom.

What if you want to take your garage renovation up a notch? Any garage remodel that requires installing additional plumbing, data cables, or expensive fixtures will be more costly. A home gym may not be costly in terms of converting the garage itself, but filling it with exercise machines may drive up the price. Likewise, a home movie theater might be nice, but the chairs and projector screen are going to be pricey. Other expensive garage conversion ideas include converting the garage into an apartment for rent, a lounge with a full wet bar, an art studio, a music room, a billiard room, or a library.

Finishing Your Garage

Turning your garage into a living space means you’ll need to make other plans for storage, so consider installing shelving or cabinets to stow items in your new space.

To turn your garage into a room, you’ll also need to consider what goes into making the space livable, such as adding insulation to ensure that it stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If your walls are unfinished, you’ll need to finish them with drywall, paneling, or plywood. If your garage conversion budget is on the smaller side, cheaper materials like shiplap or sheet metal are good alternatives. Flooring can be as simple as applying an epoxy-based concrete paint to your concrete floor, or as complex as building out a well-insulated wooden subfloor and installing carpeting. Other flooring options include tile, vinyl, laminate, and wood.

Flooring, insulation, and even finishing the walls are fairly simple DIY projects, although you may want to hire an electrician to run any additional wiring and install light fixtures, switches, and receptacles, or to change existing ones.

You may be able to use your current HVAC system to heat and cool an attached garage after its conversion. An HVAC technician can tell you whether this is feasible for your system and garage, or if you’ll need additional ductwork and vents. If you can’t expand your current HVAC system to cover your garage turned living space, you may need to use space heaters and window A/C units, or install a wood-burning heater or ductless heating and cooling system.

If your garage doesn’t have any windows, or only has one or two, you may need to add more to let in all that natural light. If you’re removing garage doors, you can add windows to this wall fairly easily. When shopping for new windows, make sure to buy modern, energy-efficient ones to cut the costs of your utility bill.

What to Do With Your Garage Door 

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Perhaps the biggest, and most obvious, concern when turning a garage into a living space is removing the garage door. If you want a garage conversion but you’re interested in keeping the door, there are some DIY garage door fixes, like using a DIY garage door insulation kit to maintain comfort without sacrificing the flexibility of turning your converted space back into a garage someday. You can also buy garage door veneers that go over metal doors, changing the look of the door itself to match the rest of the décor in your conversion. If you’re converting your garage into an apartment, bonus room, or other permanent living space, you may want to hire a contractor to remove the garage doors entirely and build out the exterior wall to fill the space.

Whether you have a two-car garage, a large garage with vaulted ceilings, or a single-car garage, turning your garage into a living space can increase your home’s square footage significantly for a much lower price than building a new addition from scratch.

Not quite ready for a garage renovation? Learn more about garage door opener warranty coverage and garage door replacement costs. You can also take advantage of an American Home Shield home service plan, which covers many of the home systems and appliances you use every day (like your heating unit, A/C, electrical, plumbing, and more). Compare home warranty prices and plans to determine which home service plan is best for your budget and your household.

How to Paint Concrete Floors and Patios


If you have some dreary concrete spaces on your front porch or backyard patio, it’s easy to spiff them up with a coat of paint, stain, or fun stencils. Just follow these steps to liven up concrete stairs, porches, patios, pathways, and much more. You’ll be amazed at how much it can freshen up your outdoor spaces! 

1. Prepare and Clean the Concrete

Prep the concrete by giving the area a thorough sweep or use a leaf blower to remove any surface debris. Then use a pressure washer to remove any stubborn moss or dirt.  

2. Remove Any Grease or Oil

Use a concrete cleaner and degreaser to remove any grease and oil from the concrete surface. For acid staining, use a special concrete clean and etch product to prep the area. Also, coatings of any kind should be removed before applying any other products.  

3. Patch Any Cracks or Uneven Surfaces 

Use special concrete caulk sealant to patch any small cracks. Allow this to dry for at least 24 hours before applying any other products. Once dry, use a scrub brush to remove any extra caulk residue from the concrete prior to applying additional products.   

4. Wait for a Period of Dry Weather

Make sure the concrete is completely dry for at least 24 hours prior to applying any primer, stain, or paint. Try to time the application to a period when you may have 3-4 days of sunny or dry weather to complete the entire project.   

5. Apply Concrete Paint Primer

Before applying concrete paint primer or any paint, you will want to use painter’s tape to protect any surfaces that you don’t want painted. Then you will apply a bonding primer before you apply concrete paint. This will ensure a smooth application and a more durable finish.  

6. Choose the Right Paint or Stain 

Be sure to use masonry paint or concrete stain when painting or staining concrete. Some paint brands offer a stain and sealant in one for optimal convenience. 

Pro tip: Masonry paint is sometimes called elastomeric paint or elastomeric wall coating. 

For application, masonry paint is often thicker than regular paint and can be applied with a high-capacity roller or brush. Be sure to use a thicker roller. If you use one that’s too smooth, it won’t get in all of the nooks of the concrete. No matter how well you cleaned the concrete prior to painting, dirt and debris can still get stuck on your paint roller. To avoid that, you can also use a paint sprayer for this project. You can use this same process with a decorative stencil as well. 

7. Apply a Second Coat 

Wait at least 12 hours for the paint to dry before you apply a second coat. Be sure to add a slip-resistant additive for pathways, steps, and highly trafficked areas. 

8. Allow to Dry and Then Apply Sealant 

If the paint you selected isn’t a stain and sealant in one, you will need to apply a sealant once the paint is dry. Allow the second coat of paint to dry for another 24 hours before applying sealant. The sealant will add durability to your paint or stain and help prevent fading. 

9. Allow to Completely Dry 

Before using the concrete space, allow the area to dry fully for at least 24 hours, but ideally 48 hours to be safe.

This is a DIY process that can take several days, but it’s not really that difficult and is well worth the effort for the payoff of a refreshed outdoor space that will be enjoyed for years to come. 

DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations.

10 Steps to Drain Water Out of a Washing Machine


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We know how annoying can be when you go to your laundry area to transfer a load of clothes from the washer to the dryer, but water remains in the washer tub even though the cycle has finished. It can be confusing, frustrating and inconvenient when this happens. You can turn on the spin cycle to see if the water will drain, but if that doesn’t help, you’re right back where you started – with a load of soaking laundry and a washer full of water.  

Why Won’t My Washing Machine Drain Water? 

There are a few possibilities why your washing machine won’t drain. that might happen. Your washer may have a clogged drain hose or the pump may be broken. A broken lid switch or belt could also be the culprit. It may even be something as simple as the hose being jammed. Whatever the reason, the water will need to be drained from the washing machine before any work or diagnosis can be done. 

What Does the Drain Function on a Washing Machine Do? 

It removes the water from the tub during the spin cycle. The washer pump forces water from the bottom of the machine into the drain hose. The drain hose loops to the top of the machine, and then down to the drain, enabling the tub to fill. When the water reaches the bend in the hose, it goes out of the drain. 

How to Drain Water Out of a Washing Machine 

If you have water in your washer that hasn’t drained, you have a couple of options: 

One is to bail it out, but that can be a time consuming and tedious process. It can also be hard on your back to bend over to reach the bottom of the tub repeatedly. An easier way is to let the drain hose and gravity do the hard work for you. Here are some of the things you’ll need to have on hand for the task: 

  • Bucket
  • Screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Sponge and towels
  • Clamp 

Step 1 – Turn off the power 

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Unplug the washer from the outlet or turn off power at the circuit breaker or fuse box. While not mandatory, it’s also a good idea to turn the hot and cold water connections to the washing machine just to be safe.  

Step 2 – Locate the drain hose at the back of the washer 

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First, look to see if it is bent or kinked, which may be blocking the water flow. If that’s the case, simply straightening the hose may fix the problem. If the hose has no visible bends or kinks, then disconnect it from the drain, unscrewing with a clamp attached if necessary. Be sure to keep the hose higher than the washer tub until you’re ready to empty the water.  

Step 3 – Prepare your bucket and drain hose 

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Get the bucket in place and drop the hose lower than the washer tub into the bucket. If the bucket fills, raise the hose above the washer tub until you can empty the bucket and start to fill it again. If the water doesn’t flow freely, the filter may be blocked, which you’ll need to clear before continuing. 

Step 4 – Check for and remove all clogs in the drain hose 

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Once the water has drained, check the hose for a clogged piece of clothing or a soap blockage. Loosen the clamp that connects the hose to the bottom of the tub and inspect the inside. If you see something clogging the hose or a clog where the hose connects, remove it with your pliers and reconnect the hose. 

Step 5 – Check for deeper clogs in the drain or beyond  

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If the hose is clear, there may be a clog in the drain or beyond, which means you’ll likely need to use a plumber’s snake to clear it.  

Step 6 – Inspect the washer pump 

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Check the washer pump, to see if it has a clog or a broken impeller, belt or a leak. Refer to your manufacturer’s instructions for a diagram of your unit’s pump location and parts. In most cases, you’ll notice an unusual noise when the washer is operating that indicates a bad pump, or leaking may also be a sign. If you have a bad pump, you’ll need to replace it or call a qualified service technician for help. If you replace it yourself, be sure to purchase the same pump model.   

Step 7 – Inspect the washing machine lid switch

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To see if the lid switch is working, depress it by hand. If you don’t hear a click, it may be broken and need replacing.  

Step 8 – Inspect the washing machine for damaged belts 

To see if damaged belts are causing your drain problem, unscrew the access panel and check the main belt and the pump belt. Refer to your manufacturer’s diagram to locate these parts. 

Step 9 – Check to see if your configuration includes a washing machine drain vent 

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A drain vent allows air in which can help prevent a vacuum that could hamper water draining properly from the machine.  If there is a gap around the drain hose where it enters the drain, you may not need a vent. You should have a vent if building codes require one or if your washer is more than four feet from the vent stack for proper draining. 

Step 10 – When in doubt, call a service professional for help 

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If you’ve drained the water from your washer and inspected the hose, pump and lid switch and still can’t pinpoint the problem, you’ll probably need to call a professional plumber or washing machine service technician for help.

Home Warranty and Insurance Guide


Aerial view of residential neighborhood with colorful fall foliage North of Dallas, Texas.

Home warranty or home insurance? We vote both.

American Home Shield home warranty plans help pay to repair or replace home systems and appliances – things like A/C, heating, appliances and more. Homeowners insurance helps with the cost of repairs needed as a result of accidental damage or theft – things like natural disasters, fires and break-ins.

Contact your Ebby agent to find out more about how American Home Shield can pick up where homeowners insurance leaves off.