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Appliances Today Vs Appliances Yesterday

When I broke into the service business almost 35 years ago It was not uncommon to work on machines that were 25 and 30 years old. Even up and into the early 90’s a service technician could count on working on 5-10 what would now be considered an antique appliance every week. The Whirlpool/Sears Kenmore belt driven washer certainly required service (belt, pump, wig-wag, etc.) but the frame and support structure could easily last 30+ years. It was built to last! The refrigerators built by Frigidaire (when it was owned by General Motors) and General Electric could have lasted 50 years (WE have some customers that still have them in their garage or basement and they are now 60 + years old!) if consumers were not pushed into replacing them due to high energy consumption. The Maytag Dependable Care washer was an engineering marvel in how it used its slipping belts in order to come up to speed while draining the water. A handful of truck stock parts would easily cover whatever repairs were needed on all of these products.
I’m not trying to down play the very important role energy efficiency plays in today’s world. But don’t miss the fact that we are simply trading dollars, not saving them! We have to spend more money in order to make and replace our appliances (and every other consumer product for that matter) more frequently in order to save money on electricity and water. Consider all the energy and effort it takes to accumulate the materials that go into building a modern refrigerator. And we haven’t even discussed the costs of trying to reclaim recyclable materials from the short lived units. The current products metal is so thin and contains so much plastic that it is harder to extract the recyclables than it was even 20 years ago.
I’d love to hear what others think about this issue.

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