Home appliances are big ticket items, no doubt about it. And when one breaks down, shelling out the cash for an emergency replacement hurts, and can potentially throw your finances out of whack for months. So, being reluctant to replace what ain't broken is understandable.
The thing is, replacing your appliances can actually help you come out ahead in the long run, as long as you plan ahead and shop carefully. It's important to replace strategically, though - if the fridge is only five years old and in good shape, it's probably fine. Prioritize the 10-year-old air conditioner first. If a newer appliance has required unusually frequent repairs, though, you may want to consider just being done with it and getting a new one.
The biggest advantage is energy efficiency. Not just for the environment, but for your energy bill as well. As technology advances, appliances use less and less energy and water than their predecessors, and the savings can make a big difference in your cash flow. If you buy Energy Star certified appliances, those savings can be quite substantial. Almost half of your energy bill comes from heating and cooling your home. Replacing an old heating/cooling system can take a serious chunk out of your monthly expenses. Newer washers, dryers and dishwashers are designed to run on as little water and electricity as possible - some newer Energy Star washers may use as little as $9 of electricity per year.
As a bonus, many states offer tax rebates to residents who replace old appliances with Energy Star models. Check your state's listing on the Energy Star website to see which brands and models are approved. They may seem more expensive at first, but the rebates can offset the purchase price substantially.
If you're using the appliances that came with your house, you may be wasting money running a machine that's way bigger than you need. Refrigerators, ovens, washers, dryers, dishwashers and heating/cooling units all come in a variety of sizes. Obviously, the larger the machine, the less efficient it is. If there's only one or two of you, consider downsizing your kitchen and laundry appliances. You'll save energy and water, and you'll free up space, too. The only exception to this is the heating/cooling unit, where larger models may be more efficient than smaller models because they don't need to run as long.
If you're thinking of selling your home, the question of replacing your appliances becomes even more pertinent. New appliances won't necessarily add value to your home, but old or worn-out appliances can certainly detract from it. And even though new appliances won't get you a higher selling price, they do add to your home's salability. For example - your house is competing with a similar house down the street, both with similar prices. If your house boasts a beautiful kitchen with brand new appliances and a new central air, it looks to the buyer like they'll get more for their money. New appliances are shiny and impressive, and the energy efficiency is a major selling point.
When buyers look at a house with older appliances, they mentally tack on the price of replacing them. Sometimes, they'll ask for an appliance allowance when they make an offer. That allowance is usually more than what you would pay, were you to replace them yourself, but if you don't accept it, they won't buy. Skip the negotiation and just replace them before you ever put it on the market.