Whether you're buying a refrigerator or a clothes dryer, shopping for home appliances can be overwhelming. Appliance tags spout features you've never heard of and aren't sure you even need. Add in the choice of size, color, manufacturer, energy efficiency ratings, rebate availability and cost, and it's enough to confuse anyone.
So which features should you splurge on, and where can you save?
"What it boils down to is for you to know your lifestyle, what's valuable or important to you," says Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for General Electric Appliances.
Some features that cost more are purely aesthetic, such as stainless steel exteriors. "Stainless steel is more of a premium appearance, and it really is all about style, it's not about function," Wood says. For a side-by-side refrigerator, for example, you'll pay around $200 more for the same model in stainless steel, versus black or white.
The same goes for premium colors. Is it worth spending extra to get the clothes dryer in red? "Unless you're entertaining in your laundry room, who cares about the paint color?" says Alan Lavine, vice president of Percy's appliance store in Worcester, Mass.
When it comes to functionality, though, saving or splurging can make a big difference. Here are tips for shopping for five of the most popular home appliances.