When you have a small appliance like a coffee maker or toaster that goes out, it can be replaced very easily or sometimes you can't wait to get a new one if you even do. But a refrigerator or stove is a different story. When these appliances go out unexpectedly, it’s not as easy to decide to go buy a new one at the store.
These appliances are several hundred dollars and a tight budget can make it difficult to work with your wallet. Luckily for some people who qualify, it’s possible to get free appliances. Others who don’t meet the qualifications could still get appliances for a low cost. Let’s dig in to learn more about this.
How to Get Free Appliances Using the Government Assistance Program
The government actually offers an assistance program that is designed to help those who come from disabled or low-income households to get free appliances. Getting a new, efficient appliance at no extra cost is possible with programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
What is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)?
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is known as LIHEAP for short. The program started in 1980 and was a solution to the concerns from the rising energy costs from the 1970s. The Department of Health and Human Services runs the program today.
It was created specifically to assist disabled and low-income households. Particularly for those families who experience a large portion of their income going to heating and cooling costs, the program helps to meet their immediate home energy needs. Old- less-efficient appliances are swapped for new ones which are more energy-efficient.
The program was awarded $3.69 billion dollars in 2019 through a block grant which states receive their funding from. The amount of funding in your state determines how many households that qualify will receive assistance. Once funds have depleted, you will have to wait until the next financial year to try again. To find out more about the details of the program within your state, refer to state low-income energy assistance snapshots site.
Who Qualifies For Free Appliances With LIHEAP?
To get free appliances from the government, you have to qualify. Federal government rules are set on the minimum and maximum requirements. States must set the eligibility requirements for recipients.
Basically, to qualify for free appliances your household’s income can’t be more than 60 percent of the state’s median income or 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Both the state median income and federal poverty guidelines are adjusted every year. They can be found on the Federal Register’s website.
To apply for the program, you may need the following:
Utility bills, recent copies
Paystub or other proof of income which is recent
Unemployment, Social Security, Pension Funds, and other documentation
The program is very competitive so qualifying for it doesn’t mean that you’ll receive free appliances. Households who are disabled, elderly, have young children have a better chance. Those who have the greatest home energy need according to their family size and household income will also generally receive higher benefits.
How Else Does LIHEAP Help?
Aside from giving away free appliances, the LIHEAP can help in other ways. These include:
Assistance with heating and cooling bills
Home repairs related to energy such as insulating water heaters
How to Find Free or Low-Cost Appliances Online
If you don’t qualify for the LIHEAP program, there’s other avenues you may find free or low-cost appliances. The internet makes finding these sources much easier. Here are some specific places on the web to search for below.
People who have unwanted goods and simply want to give it away to others in their community may use Freecycle to do this. An account can be created for free and then you can find the group who’s in your area. You can post a “Wanted” listing to ask for what you’re looking for or search through the posts.
Appliances are often posted on Freecycle. You’re responsible for picking up an item so make sure you’re prepared for that.
Besides being a social media platform, Facebook has its own Marketplace that users can you to list items for sale. Simply log in to your account and find the “Marketplace” section. There’s a search bar where you can enter what you’re looking for as well as the location. Then you can scroll through the results to find all the listing. They also have a “Category” menu that you can navigate and browse listings.
Other than Facebook Marketplace, you may also try the “Groups” section. There are many groups set up for people locally who are buying, selling, and giving away items. Another option is posting on your Facebook Wall that you’re looking for a certain appliance. Make the post public or people other than your friends can view the post and you might get contacted by someone who will make an offer.
Another source for finding appliances is eBay. The online shopping site is known for consumer to consumer sales and auctions. Sellers list their item on eBay’s platform. They may only accept bids for the item or have what’s called the “Buy It Now” option. This allows buyers to purchase the item at a fixed price without getting into a bidding war.
If the item is set for an online auction, the seller sets the starting price, and it is available for a bid for a specified number of days. At the end of the listing, the buyer who has the highest bid wins. eBay has a section for “Major Appliances” in its “Home & Garden” category.
How to Find Free or Low-Cost Appliances Near Me
There are also many local organizations where you can find appliances that are specifically near you. The prices for appliances will generally be very responsible and sometimes available for free. Try looking for appliances in these six places listed below.
Habitat For Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a well-known nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower people in the world’s poorest economies. It’s one of the largest charities in the US. The organization helps families in need by helping to provide them with household items which include appliances.
They have Habitat for Humanity ReStore donation centers and home improvement stores which sell new/used appliances, building materials, furniture, and home goods. Each of their reuse stores is independently owned and operated by the local Habitat for Humanity. Donations are accepted and home improvement items are sold to low-income individuals for a low price.
The focus of the Salvation Army is to help those who are getting back on their feet. To help people meet their basic needs, they offer financial assistance. This includes helping them purchase major appliances and other necessities.
The assistance generally is in the form of vouchers. These can be used at their distribution centers for shopping for these items. These centers have items which can change daily because they are based on the donations they receive. You will likely need to check the center often.
These are nonprofits that provide much more than just furniture. Most will have appliances as well but you should call ahead. They operate as a not-for-profit and collect donations of gently used or new essentials. These are in turn provided to households that are struggling financially.
You must meet the requirements of your local furniture bank to receive free items. There are roughly 80 furniture banks in North America and they operate independently. That means that these requirements will vary. Find out what they have available before heading to one.
Many churches collect a variety of items including clothing, shoes, and appliances. They are collected for low-income individuals. Sometimes churches will specifically ask for a donation of an appliance on your behalf.
St. Vincent de Paul
As one of the largest charity organizations found in the United States, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) works on providing services, assistance, and resources to needy individuals. Consider contacting your local organization if you need help with purchasing appliances. Their programs and resources vary by region, council, and chapter.
Another great resource for finding free items like appliances is Craigslist. The focus is on ads with items that are for sale. However, there’s a good chance that you will stumble on free things too. It’s common for people who are moving to be interested in letting go of their things.
You should be prepared to have to move and transport the appliance yourself. Craigslist organizes its site by major city/region. So you need to find the area near you to start searching for appliances.
How to Use Apps to Find Free or Low-Cost Appliances
Thanks to the internet and smartphones, you can also download different apps in which you search for items both new and used for sale near your area. You can negotiable the price of home appliances just like other big-ticket items such as cars. Here are two apps that we recommend trying.
The app is set up like a virtual garage sale market where you can buy appliances that are in your community. There’s no need to go visit the flea market to get a good deal on gently used appliances.
The app has users located in Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. To get started with Varagesale you must enter your location to enable you to join a community that’s near you.
Facebook can be used to confirm your identity on Varagesale which can eliminate the need to set up a separate account login. When looking for items on the app, be safe by transacting with others who are verified in your neighborhood. You should also check the member ratings and their average response times to help determine if you want to work with a seller.
Another great app that allows you to search for items like pre-owned washers and dryers is Letgo. You can also login to the Letgo app by using your Facebook account to sync your details. iPhone and Android devices are both supported by the app. Using the app you can search through mobile classified ads and buy/chat with other local users.
There are well over 200 million listings in which you can see what’s available near you by entering your location. By typing “free” in the search bar, you can help narrow down your search if you only want to view free items. Sellers have ratings and reviews which you should check before deciding to purchase something.
Appliances are a big expense that can be difficult to afford if you have a low income or financially tied. If you qualify for the LIHEAP program, you should find your state’s specific requirements and apply. Since funds are limited and they determine who gets assistance by greatest needs, you may consider having a back-up plan.
There are many not-for-profit organizations that are available that might be able to help locally. Otherwise, try looking on sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Freecycle for a good deal or even free appliances. Finally, you can download an app like Varagesale or Letgo and browse their listings. It might take a little work, but it’s worth it to save hundreds of dollars and have a functioning refrigerator that you store your food safely in.
About the Author
Anjana Paul is a banking professional who is passionate about helping others make better choices when it comes to money. In her spare time she is a freelance writer with years of expertise in the financial industry. She primarily writes about topics such as student loans, building credit, budgeting, retirement and other personal finance topics.