From raw materials such as lumber and aluminum to household appliances and groceries, the cost of living is increasing. Right now, it’s happening at a faster rate than we’re used to. For multiple reasons, the cost of many common household appliances and home goods is about to increase. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading any of your appliances or making changes to your home, now may be the time to do it.
Why Are the Prices of Home Goods Increasing?
In many cases, COVID-19 is partially responsible for the price increases. With lumber, for instance, initial sawmill shutdowns at the start of the pandemic meant that less lumber was being made. At the same time, there was an increased demand for lumber by homeowners looking to complete projects during quarantine. Together, this meant that lumber supplies were quickly depleted. Sawmills are opening up again, but supply still can’t keep up, in part because of high demand for new-build housing. It’s a combination of circumstances that has seen the price of lumber increase by over 300% in a little over a year.
Similar sets of circumstances are affecting the prices of a wide range of commodities. This includes materials such as aluminum and steel, and the things made from them. The increased cost of these raw materials will in turn affect the prices of household goods of all kinds. Many manufacturers have indicated they will increase the prices of their goods in 2021 or 2022. The main reasons for this are:
- Supply shortages
- The increased costs of raw materials
- Higher transportation costs
In addition, the coronavirus has exacerbated existing problems with shipping delays in various parts of the country.
But it’s not just COVID to blame for price hikes and shortages. Events like the big freeze in February of this year and the shipping delay due to the blockage of the Suez Canal in March have contributed too. These unique circumstances have delayed manufacturing and shipping, and this has increased demand for materials that are in short supply.
All these circumstances together mean the cost of goods is increasing, while supplies either decrease or stay the same. In short, it’s costing more for manufacturers to make goods. They pass those cost increases on to retailers, who in turn will pass them on to consumers.
What Kinds of Goods Are Affected?
The rising costs of manufacturing will affect both big-ticket items and consumer and household goods. Home appliances such as TVs, washing machines, and refrigerators are all likely to get more expensive over the next year. This is largely because of the increased cost of materials such as aluminum, steel, and copper. Increased freight and shipping costs are also a factor.
Brands that have indicated price increases include:
The cost to buy new appliances could increase by as much as 10%. Some brands have already rolled out new pricing. For instance, Whirlpool increased its prices in June, with an average price increase of 6.6% for kitchen and laundry appliances. This includes countertop appliances, KitchenAid® brand appliances, and refrigerators and cooktops.
Homeowners can also expect to see the cost of many consumer goods and grocery items increase over the next couple of years:
- The cost of many peanut butter brands increased in August 2020, triggered by a price hike by Jif® manufacturer J.M. Smucker.
- Expect to see the cost of coffee increase, due to both supply shortages and increased shipping costs.
- Coca-Cola will increase prices on some products in 2022.
- Toilet paper and many other paper and paper-derivative products will become more expensive during 2021.
- Brands such as Proctor & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, and Clorox® have all announced plans to increase the cost of some items.
Will Buying Now Help You Avoid Costly Price Hikes?
With the cost of both raw materials and manufactured goods in flux, homeowners have some tough buying decisions to make over the next year. Home appliances are set to increase in price, so for some homeowners, it may make sense to make a purchase. In the case of raw materials, like lumber, the volatility of the market means it’s hard to know when is the best time to purchase. In this case, buying now isn’t necessarily the best choice.
Building and Project Supplies
Prices of lumber, steel, and other materials aren’t static the way prices of consumer goods are. They tend to fluctuate more because both demand and supply of these items is more volatile. That means it’s hard to predict exactly when is the right time to buy these items.
For instance, the cost of lumber began slowly dropping in June after hitting a record high, but it’s hard to say how long that trend will last. And experts say it’s almost certain that the price of lumber will never again be as low as it was pre-COVID. However, they also say that the worst of the lumber shortage is behind us, and supply should gradually return to a more normal level. Even if lumber doesn’t fall to pre-COVID prices, it should continue to drop over the next few months. It is unclear whether other materials, such as steel and aluminum, will follow a similar pattern.
This means that if you’re looking to buy lumber and other building and project materials, it may be better to wait a few months. Holding off on these purchases may give time for stocks of these materials to be replenished. This will help bring prices down closer to pre-pandemic levels.
The prices of home appliances and other home goods aren’t as volatile as the prices of the raw materials that are used to make them. This means that usually, when prices on home appliances increase due to inflation and other factors, they don’t decrease later on, even if manufacturing materials drop in price. So in this case, it’s not a matter of waiting to see how low prices get—it’s about buying before prices go higher.
It’s also important to note that in some cases, price increases on home goods may have already gone into effect. Each brand has its own schedule for putting new pricing into effect. So before making a purchase, it’ll be important to check the brands you’re interested in and find out what their pricing plans are.
With prices on home appliances set to increase by up to 10%, it’s better to make these big purchases before price increases come into effect. On the other hand, if you don’t actually need an upgrade, there’s no point in making a big purchase just because prices are going to rise.
In other words, if you’re planning on making the purchase in the near future anyway, you may as well do it before prices go up. The question is: How do you know if you need to upgrade your current appliance? Consumer Reports offers one perspective, with a report on the average lifespan of a range of household appliances. And there are other considerations, such as:
- Energy efficiency
- The condition of the appliance
- Whether it’s meeting your family’s needs
Washing machines last around 10 years. If your current washer is more than 10 years old, chances are it’s significantly less efficient than today’s models, both in water and energy usage. Another reason to upgrade may be if your family size has increased and your current machine isn’t big enough to meet everyone’s needs.
Dryers last an average of 13 years. If your dryer is over 10 years old, it may be the right time to replace it. Newer models are much more energy-efficient, especially if you pick one that’s Energy Star-certified.
Dishwashers typically last 9 to 10 years. If your dishwasher is older than this, upgrading may mean long-term savings, as newer models use less water and are more energy-efficient. Look for warning signs that it may be time for a new model, like:
- Visible rust
- Water leaking on the floor
- The presence of standing water inside the dishwasher after a cycle
Read our blog on how to find the best dishwasher for you!
Ovens can last 10 to 15 years, with gas ovens having a slightly longer potential lifespan than electric models. It may be time to consider a replacement if you notice rust inside your oven, or if the oven doesn’t heat to the right temperature. An older oven may be the culprit if your energy bill is suddenly higher than it used to be. You may also want to upgrade if your oven doesn’t meet your family’s needs any more. For instance, a big family could benefit from a double oven, especially if you entertain frequently.
Refrigerators last an average of 9 to 13 years, depending on size and other factors. Warning signs that your fridge is nearing the end of its life include interior condensation and food that spoils before its expiration date. If the back of the unit is very hot, it may be working harder than it should to keep food cool. This could result in the fridge using more energy than it used to, which may be reflected in your energy bill.
Garbage disposals last around 10 to 12 years. Signs that the garbage disposal may need replacing include:
- A unit that clogs frequently, even if you dispose of food carefully
- Having to reset the unit often
- Foul odors you can’t get rid of
Water heaters, both gas and electric, last for 10 to 13 years. A tankless model lasts 20 years or more (unless they were exposed to freezing temperatures outside). If your current gas or electric heater is nearing the end of its lifespan, making the switch to a tankless heater could be a wise move. Tankless heaters can accommodate any family size and usage pattern, so they’re an excellent all-purpose solution that works for virtually any home.
Learn the signs that it’s time to replace your water heater here.
HVAC systems have variable lifespans, partly because regular maintenance is important for keeping them in good working order. If you’re consistent with home maintenance tasks and regular professional inspections, your HVAC system may last 15 to 20 years.
An increase in your energy bill could signal that your system is nearing the end of its lifespan. If it starts making lots of noise or has to run for long periods of time to maintain temperature, this may also indicate it’s time to replace the system.
TV: Upgrading a television is often more of a personal decision than replacement of other appliances. Many people have their own preferences in terms of the type of TV they like and their preferred picture quality. If you love having the latest TV with the best picture possible, you could be upgrading as often as every three years. On the other hand, many people stick with the same TV for 10 years or more, only replacing the unit if it breaks beyond repair.
Buying Now May Help You Save, But Do Your Research First
With many home goods seeing price increase in the coming months, homeowners have some important decisions to make. Whether it’s lumber for a home building project or a new home appliance to accommodate a growing family, making these decisions thoughtfully could help you save a significant chunk of the purchase price.