How to Get a Free Refrigerator?
Replacing a broken appliance can be tricky, especially if your income is on the lower end of the spectrum. More so when it comes to expensive equipment, such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, and other appliances with high sticker prices. Sadly, these do conk out, sometimes way before their expected lifespan.
If you need a replacement pronto, but your budget won’t accommodate the additional expense, it’s not the end of the world. The chances are high that you won’t have to hand wash your clothes or use an ice box to keep your food fresh. Fortunately, several ways to get free appliances exist. If you qualify, that is.
We’re here to help you find free appliances as replacements for worn-out units that suddenly gave up the ghost. Even if you don’t have the cash to spare, there are avenues you can explore to get free or cheap appliances.
Government Programs for Free Appliances
Several government programs are in place to assist low-income families in availing free appliances if they don’t have the means to buy replacements for their old units. Depending on your household income, you may be qualified to receive assistance to purchase essential home appliances.
Here’s some information about the different government programs.
Federal Weatherization Assistance Program [WAP]
The Federal Weatherization Assistance Program provides support for low-income families to make their homes more energy-efficient and consistently lower their utility bills. The WAP is the primary government project that offers free appliances to low-income households. Overseen by the Department of Energy, the program often subsidizes energy-related home repairs and provides free energy-efficient appliances that help reduce energy consumption.
You can apply to WAP through the state agency. The state prioritizes low-income families with the following qualifications
- Those who are over 60 years old
- Families who have members with a disability
- Families with children (in most but not ALL states)
When you apply to WAP, a local contractor will do an energy audit. Depending on the results, the study may recommend upgrades, such as the following.
- Upgrading of heating and cooling devices into more energy-efficient models
- Installation of insulation and weather stripping
- Replacement of old and inefficient household appliances
- Repair or replacement of a leaky roof
- Air sealing around doors and windows
- Mounting of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program [LIHEAP]
Run by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) targets low-income families, particularly those with seniors, children, or disabled members. The program doesn’t actually give free appliances but instead provides bill payment assistance in the form of a cash grant.
The energy crisis assistance is a one-time payment sent directly to the utility company. The amount is credited to the bill of low-income families to offset their utility costs. The cash grant is between $300 to $1000 based on household income, size, and fuel type. In short, LIHEAP helps with the operating costs of existing or new machines, thus assisting low-income households in paying for new appliances.
Qualifications for LIHEAP include the following.
- Low-income families who need help with their energy bills and have an income that does not exceed the greater of 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline (FPG) or 60 percent of the state’s median income (SMI) level.
- An individual who participates or has family members who participate in other benefit programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), may be automatically eligible.
High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Act [HEEHRA]
The High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Act (HEEHRA) is a program that provides free appliances to moderate and low-income families. The aim is to help these families save on energy bills and reduce their carbon emissions by using energy-efficient electrical appliances and devices.
In line with its goal, HEERA provides point-of-sale assistance amounting to $14,000. The amount goes into purchasing and installing electrical equipment and household appliances to encourage homeowners to switch from gas to electricity.
The HEERA rebate doesn’t cover all appliances but only those specified by the program. This includes the following.
- Heat pump clothes dryer ($840)
- Electric stove or cooktop ($840)
- Electric wiring improvements ($2,500)
- Upgraded circuit panels ($4,000)
- Breaker box ($4,000)
Not everyone qualifies for the program, but the requirements are pretty straightforward.
- Low-income households: These are households with less than 80% of the area’s average family income.
- Moderate-income households: These include those with 80% to 150% of the area’s median family income.
- Multifamily buildings: The requirements mentioned above apply to multifamily buildings that have 50% or more low-to-moderate income families.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, is a stimulus bill passed by the US Congress in March 2020. It aims to mitigate the economic impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The bill allotted over $2 trillion to provide financial aid to workers discharged from their jobs, small businesses, families with small children, large corporations, gig workers, and the like.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development issues CARES Act vouchers to grantees of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to help rehabilitate and refurbish dilapidated housing, which is then sold to low-income families.
The appliances available under NSP are energy-efficient clothes washers, stoves, refrigerators, dryers, dishwashers, and central air conditioning units. However, families should meet the following requirements to qualify for the vouchers.
- NSP funds were used to rehabilitate or construct the home.
- The installation of the appliances is comparable to unassisted homes in the local housing market.
- Qualifying appliances should meet or exceed Energy Star standards.
- Deed restrictions should ensure that the devices remain in the home, if appropriate.
Products with the Energy Star label comply with strict energy efficiency specifications set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As such, they consume less energy, thus helping save money and the environment.
To encourage consumers to use these energy-efficient appliances, Energy Star offers modest assistance to those purchasing home appliances that use less electricity or gas than conventional models. The aid comes in the form of rebates.
To find appliance rebates in your area, go to the Energy Star website. Use your zip code to browse the list of eligible energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, dryers, dishwashers, air conditioning units, and the like.
EBT, which means Electronic Benefits Transfer, is an electronic system that lets participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) pay for food using benefits from SNAP. Often, low-income earners that qualify for this initiative from the federal government also automatically meet the criteria for other assistance programs.
For example, families eligible for EBT may also be eligible for free appliances through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). That’s if they meet the Savings to Investment Ratio (SIR) requirement.
Automatic eligibility may also be available for those who receive benefits from the following:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSS)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
How to Qualify for These Programs?
Not all low-income families can avail of appliances at no cost based solely on their income. There are rules to follow and requirements to meet. The federal government sets minimum and maximum criteria, but each state is mandated to set eligibility requirements for assistance recipients.
To qualify for benefits, the household income should be at most 60% of the state median income or 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline. The state median income and federal poverty guideline is adjusted yearly by the federal government and published in the Federal Register.
You may need to present the following documents to apply:
- Recent copies of your utility bills
- Most up-to-date pay stubs or other proof of income
- Certifications or documents of unemployment, pension funds, social security, and the like
Seniors of low-income families often qualify for free appliances, particularly free refrigerators, through various government programs because they regularly consume more energy. The benefits for senior citizens kick into high gear if the household income is less than $3,000. This means that those who qualify for SSI (Supplemental Security Income), which has this $3,000 income limitation, may also be automatically eligible for LIHEAP, WAP, and HEERA.
Many programs for free appliances for seniors are also coursed through Medicare or Medicaid.
Disabled persons usually meet the low-income requirements for many government assistance programs that provide free appliances. However, the rules vary somewhat depending on the benefit class.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients: These individuals often qualify automatically because their monthly benefits are small and their income doesn’t exceed $3,000.
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients: These individuals can get free appliances provided their household income (including that of the spouse and dependents) does not exceed the specified limits.
Loans for individuals on disability benefits are available to fund upgrades to efficient appliances that will help them save money on their utility bills.
Other Benefits of the Program
Families with low income can avail of free appliances from the assistance programs. Those who need a free washer, refrigerator, or even a central heating system can check their eligibility. But free appliances are just part of the aid these programs offer. For example, besides free appliances, LIHEAP also has a home energy assistance program, bill payment assistance, support for weatherproofing, and home repairs meant to increase energy efficiency.
Those who don’t qualify outright for a government assistance program to avail of free appliances may still be able to access help in purchasing low-cost appliances or financial assistance related to their energy costs.
Large Organizations to Get Free Appliances
If you don’t meet the criteria for federal poverty guidelines and other requirements, don’t lose hope. Many large organizations will give you appliances for free, with some focusing on specific devices.
Here are some of those organizations.
The Salvation Army, a religious and non-profit organization, helps people get back on their feet. They offer support that includes providing appliances, such as free refrigerators and washers. You can also buy cheap appliances from their thrift stores if they don’t have what you need for free.
The Salvation Army has been operating for over 150 years and has distribution centers in over 7,000 US towns and cities. You’ll need to contact them for free or cheap appliances and show proof of eligibility. If you meet the criteria, you’ll receive vouchers you can use to shop at their stores.
Habitat for Humanity
Another non-profit organization that strives to help financially-challenged Americans is Habitat for Humanity. The organization’s goal is to give everyone a decent place to live. As such, their volunteers build homes and help with home repairs. They also support weatherization to maintain comfort and save energy.
Aligned with their mission of providing decent dwelling places, they set up donation and home improvement centers across the US. These stores sell used appliances in good working condition. Habitat for Humanity affiliates also run Habitat ReStores. Depending on the donated items, high-quality appliances may be available at these stores and sold at affordable prices.
Local Charities & Organizations
Several charities and organizations in your area are also excellent sources of free or low-cost appliances. You’ll just have to know where to look. Here’s where you can start your search.
The Furniture Bank Association of America knows that furnishing a home can cost several thousand dollars, an amount beyond the means of low-income earners. Thus, the organization aims to provide a low-cost way of furnishing a home. They collect donated items (new or slightly used) and offer them free of charge to qualified recipients.
The Furniture Bank generally accepts chairs, tables, mattresses, beds, kitchenware, and appliances. The items are often reconditioned and sanitized before redistribution. Contact them first to find out if you qualify and if they have what you need. Almost 80 furniture banks exist in the country, so find one near you using their site.
Your place of worship is a great place to source free appliances. The administrators can often point you in the right direction. Alternatively, you can check the churches in your area through social media, their websites, or online neighborhood groups.
Some churches also hold rummage sales that can include used appliances. The prices are low, and the proceeds are donated to charity. Meanwhile, some operate thrift stores that accept and resell donated items to the public.
St. Vincent de Paul
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, one of the country’s largest charity organizations, is affiliated with the Catholic Church. It has an international reach and helps over 5 million people each year. It operates like the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity, which provide various assistance to low-income families and individuals.
Also, like other charities, St. Vincent de Paul accepts donations and acts as a bridge between the giver and the recipient. The appliances the organization takes include refrigerators, freezers, washers, and dryers. In some areas, it maintains thrift shops where you can get low-cost appliances. Check for one in your area by entering “St. Vincent de Paul shop near me” in your browser.
Sites & Apps
Thanks to the internet, you can quickly search for free appliances online. Several apps allow you to browse for, say, close-to-free (due to their extremely low price) refrigerators or cooling devices. Let’s look at some of those apps.
Created by a successful businessman to help low-income individuals, Net Wish is not a traditional charity organization. It looks to eliminate the red tape associated with many non-profit organizations and use the Internet to provide direct and immediate aid to those who need it.
Several grant programs from the organization assist individuals in paying for critical expenses. Financial aid and cash grants are often provided to families with children, senior citizens, and others facing short-term financial hardships. But don’t expect cash payments, as Net Wish issues gift certificates or grants. They may also pay your bills and housing expenses, such as rent, directly.
To ask for assistance, go to their site and tell them what you need. The more specific the request, the higher your chances of getting a helping hand.
You probably won’t get a free refrigerator or washer from Craigslist as this app isn’t connected to a charity organization. Instead, it’s a site where you can browse the items individuals wish to sell. This app gives you access to appliances with the most affordable prices and the model that’s best for you.
Craigslist works according to location. That means you get the information about the deals nearest you. To use the app, go to their site. Fill in as much of the required information as you can. These include your location, the type of appliance you’re looking for, your budget, and the like.
Then, check the listings. You have a high chance of finding washers, dryers, refrigerators, and other appliances you like at low prices. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe even for free. Check the product details carefully to ensure you get a working item, and practice safety protocols when meeting people online.
Freecycle is a website that serves as a bridge between buyers and sellers. It’s a non-profit organization of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free. Over 5,000 local town groups and 9 million members all over the globe make up Freecycle.
The organization aims to keep still usable items out of landfills and help get them to someone who needs them. This reduces waste and saves the planet’s resources.
You can go to their site and look in your area for a free refrigerator or whatever appliance you want by entering the type of appliance in the search bar. Like with other online sites, guard your information and take the necessary steps to avoid scams.
Who doesn’t know eBay? This online shopping site shows a list of items for sale or auction. Sellers post pictures of the items for sale on the site. Some set a bottom price and then take bids. Another option is setting a specific price called Buy it Now.
To find the appliances you need, go to the Major Appliances section. This is under the Home and Garden category. Set the filter to limit the seller’s location to areas near you. Then start browsing.
If you find the product up for bid, propose a price. Hopefully, you’ll win the bid, which means you’ll get the item at the price you set. On the other hand, you may see the article you need at a price you can afford. Hit the Buy It Now to get the appliance.
Varagesale is the equivalent of an online garage sale. So instead of going to a thrift shop or flea market to find appliances for your home, you can shop for them online. When you’ve accessed the app, type your location to see only the items available near your area.
Facebook is one means to confirm your identity, and like with other apps, be sure to protect yourself. Interact only with those verified as being in your community. Also, check the seller’s rating and how long they interact. These steps will help you decide if you want to push through with the transaction.
Letgo is an app that lets you find pre-owned items like washers, dryers, and refrigerators. One benefit of using this app is the convenience of logging in with your Facebook account. Both Android phones and iPhones can download Letgo.
Its mobile classified ads service lets you chat and buy from others in your locality. Letgo has over 200 million listings, making it easier to find sellers near you. Type “free” in the search bar. In this way, you’ll see only the list of free appliances. The sellers have ratings and reviews, which can help in your decision-making.
The Facebook Marketplace is an excellent venue to buy and sell stuff online. You may be under the impression that only used items are sold on the site, but brand-new cheap stuff is also available. You can even find free items, such as a free refrigerator, from donors who give to low-income individuals.
You can find people through the Facebook Marketplace giving away used items for free as long as you shoulder the shipping fee. The amount can be a bit hefty for appliances, but the site lets you find giveaways nearby so you can easily haul away the free unit.
Be sure to double-check that the items are really free. Some people who mark their products as free may actually be trying to sell them.
Founded as a competitor to Craigslist, OfferUp is supposedly better than other similar apps because of its emphasis on simplicity and safety. It has what’s called Safe Trade Spots, and it removes listings that violate the guidelines.
Its 2-day Purchase Protection lets buyers file a claim if the item they receive is incorrect, has missing components, or is not as described in the listing.
You can find new and used appliances sold through the app, and you can simply pick the one that fits your budget. Like with other buying and selling apps, the price ranges from minimal to hard-on-the-pocket.
Other Places to Look for Free/Discounted Appliances
If you still haven’t found the free appliance you need through the avenues we mentioned, there’s still hope of getting that free refrigerator or washer you desperately need.
Local water or power companies sometimes have programs that offer free or discounted appliances. Take the case of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP’s) Refrigerator Exchange Program. The utility company provides a free refrigerator, an Energy Star-rated model, in exchange for your older unit.
The exchange program won’t charge you any fees, and because you get a more efficient model, you can save around $60 a year on energy costs. Aside from acquiring a free refrigerator, you also lower your home’s carbon footprint, which benefits the environment.
Of course, you can’t just ask for free stuff off the bat. You must meet a few requirements to qualify for the programs of local utilities in your area.
Things to Consider When Availing Free Government Appliances
As we mentioned, you can’t simply request a free appliance. Whether you’re asking for the stuff from the Salvation Army, a low-income home energy assistance program, or charitable organizations, you’ll have to meet a few criteria and submit some requirements.
Prepare the following if you plan to avail yourself of free appliances from any government program or other organizations.
- Proof of US citizenship or permanent residence. Also, have on hand all the Social Security Numbers of family household members.
- A final warning from the utility company stating the termination of services.
- The property tax bill, along with the lease or deed states the address of your current place of residence.
- The latest copy of your utility bills. If you can provide copies of the last 3 months’ bills, do so.
- Birth certificates or any document that shows the number of residents in the house.
- Proof of income (such as payroll slips) of all family members earning an income.
- Additional proof of income if you have any. These include disability benefits, social security programs, pension funding, and the like.
How to Reduce Energy Consumption in Your Home?
Along with acquiring new models to replace broken or less efficient appliances, another budget drainer is your energy bill. As such, lowering your electricity consumption will go a long way in helping you make the most of your low income.
Let’s look at some ways you can save energy in the house.
Replace heat and air filters
Your heating and cooling costs comprise a significant portion of your energy bill. Hence the need to make your HVAC system as efficient as possible. A clogged or dirty filter makes your HVAC work harder to keep the temperature at a comfortable level. This consumes more electricity and hikes your energy bill by about 15%.
Aside from letting you save on utility expenses, clean heat, and air filters prevent dirt and debris from moving through the ducts. Change your filters at least every 3 months to maintain the efficiency of your HVAC system.
Lower the thermostat
Setting the thermostat of your central heating or cooling system between 7 and 10 degrees can save you as much as 10% on your energy expenses a year. Consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat for more savings. This device lets you adjust your heating and cooling systems depending on whether someone’s at home or all family members are out of the house.
If you can make do without using an air conditioning unit all the time, consider turning it off. Using a fan instead of an AC can significantly reduce your energy consumption.
Check your refrigerator temperature
Setting your fridge’s temperature at the optimal level lets you save on its consumption. The freezer should be at 0 to 5 degrees F, while the main refrigerator should be at 38 degrees. At these temperatures, your food stays fresh, but your refrigerator won’t have to work too hard. Taxing your fridge’s motor increases its power usage.
Swap traditional bulbs with LED lights
Incandescent bulbs consume more electricity while producing the same (or even lesser) illumination as LED lights. LEDs turn about 70% of the energy they draw from the grid into the light. In contrast, their incandescent counterparts waste 90% of the power by turning it into heat.
Among all lighting solutions, LED lights are the most energy-efficient.
Clean your refrigerator
The energy consumed by your fridge adds up quickly because it operates for long hours. To keep food cold, the appliance moves heat from inside the unit outside through the coils. However, the coils get covered in dust over time, insulating them and forcing the refrigerator to consume more electricity to maintain the required temperature.
Clean the coils once or twice a year to keep your appliance operating properly.
How Can I Get a Fridge with no Money?
There are several ways to get this appliance, even if you’re short on cash. One option is to look for second-hand models sold online or from local thrift shops. Another option is to search for organizations or government programs that give away appliances at no cost to you. A free refrigerator may just be on their list of items in stock.
Does PG&E Give Refrigerators?
No, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is not giving away refrigerators. However, the company does have a PG&E Refrigerator Recycling Program, which aims to reduce energy demand. If you’re a PG&E customer and have an old fridge or freezer, you can turn it in and get $35 for it. The required specifications are the following: the refrigerator must be at least 14 cubic feet and has been manufactured before 1990. Also, one household can only exchange up to 2 appliances.
Some appliances are considered necessities. However, getting a replacement can be challenging, especially for those with limited financial capacities. A low-income family will prioritize food, clothing, and shelter over purchasing an appliance, even if it’s badly needed.
If you’re experiencing financial difficulties when your washer or AC suddenly conks out, don’t despair. Getting a new one (or a second-hand unit) is possible. Look for government programs or charitable institutions that give appliances at low to no cost to low-income individuals.
You won’t get the free stuff without questions asked. Instead, you likely have to meet some criteria and present some documents. Still, it’s worth the effort as you’ll get a much-needed appliance.