During the peak of home appliances in the 80’s and the 90’s, Maytag ruled the market with it’s iconic washer with a lifespan of 17 to 19 years. It was a simple machine that operated with none of the bells and whistles that today’s appliances have, but with simple knobs and belts that made servicing them easy.
In today’s world, appliances last for about 50% of that time due to various reasons.
The main reason is because of energy efficiency. In the late 80’s, the state of California put in place the initial energy efficiency laws which required products sold to meet certain requirements. This program is now today’s National EnergyStar Program, which effects the way manufacturers produce new appliances.
The first Maytags used 40 to 45 gallons of water each wash, while in comparison to today’s “High Efficiency” washers consume almost a third of that amount, with an average of 15 to 18 gallons per wash. The older washers were also known to use 3 times the amount of electricity and contain half the capacity.
Refrigerators have been affected by the new energy requirements more than any other product. You see less manufacturers in top freezer and bottom freezer (not French door) refrigerators, because compliance is so difficult.
The following chart lists how far “energy conscious” 18 cu. ft. refrigerators have evolved:
|Annual Electrical Consumption||Cost|
|1972||2000 kWh||$270.00 per year|
|1990||900 kWh||$121.50 per year|
|1993||690 kWh||$93.15 per year|
|2014||436 kWh||$64.00 per year|
Back in the day, that iconic Maytag washer was built in one factory by the same people who used the same parts. Ironically, the most reliable companies like Miele and Gaggenau still produce similarly, but they are outliers.
Currently, most products are designed in one place, manufactured in Mexico, China or Korea with sourced, less expensive parts from other areas. This leaves room for misunderstandings (to be kind) and product failures.
The United Servicers Association estimates that your recent / new appliance will last about 6 – 10 years. They also require more service.
Average life of recently manufactured appliances:
Yeah, the longer life may seem better, but, let’s not lose site of how much more energy efficient today’s appliances are; with shorter and more frequent cycling, LED lighting, a third of the electric and water consumption, larger capacity and ECO friendly technologies. All are good news for the environment.
What is not in these numbers is how many people simply throw away their malfunctioning appliance. Many problems can be effectively mitigated by decent service for a fraction of the cost of a new product.