Shopping for back-to-school may still be on your mind, but Consumer Reports points out that there are great deals on many other items this month as well.
September is a good time to buy washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and, as fall approaches, leaf blowers.
With the new school year starting, you may also be able to snag a deal on desktop and notebook computers.
Consumer Reports tracks the prices of the products we test, so we can tell you month by month what to purchase on deep discount. Plus, we provide shopping tips, buying guides, and ratings to ensure that you’ll find the best deal.
To see more items on sale in September—and the rest of the year—check out our calendar of deals.
You can pay $400 for a washing machine, or nearly five times that amount, depending on the size, type, and features of the model.
Top-loading agitator washing machines cost less and wash clothes more quickly than top-loading high-efficiency machines. But high-efficiency washers have greater capacity and use less water.
You may also want to consider front-loading machines, which typically cost more than top-loaders but also clean better and are gentler on fabrics.
Think about the size. The standard size for a washing machine is 27 inches, but large-capacity versions may be 2 or 3 inches bigger. You’ll need to leave at least 6 inches behind the machine for water hookups and an inch between the washer and dryer, so before going for the larger model, make sure it will fit into the space you have—and through doorways.
Consider your needs. Even if you have the space for a larger washing machine, you might not need it. A 6.2-cubic-foot-capacity machine can hold 28 full-sized bath towels. That might make sense for a large, active family. But if you do less laundry, you might find a 3.3 cubic-foot machine, which holds 14 towels, big enough.
See our Washing Machine Buying Guide for more information and to link to our ratings.
There’s nothing quite like a warm towel right out of the dryer. That luxury can be expensive, though, depending on the size of the dryer you choose and the features it contains. Electric dryers are more popular than gas versions, but the two types perform comparably.
Consider appearance. While there is no functional reason to have a matching washer and dryer, many consumers prefer to buy a pair for aesthetic reasons. If you fall into that category, check out our ratings on the best pairs to make sure that both appliances pass muster.
Listen carefully. Look closely at the machine’s ratings on our noise tests, particularly if your laundry room is located near your family room or kitchen. While dryers do make some noise, there are models that won’t disturb you when you’re in the next room.
Be sure to check out our Clothes Dryer Buying Guide and see our ratings to help you decide which model to buy.
Lawn Care Equipment
Lawn Mowers and Tractors
Your options for the best walk-behind or riding lawn mower range from budget manual-reel models ($100) to lawn tractors and zero-turn-radius riders that can cost $4,000 or more.
Consumer Reports has tested all types of mowers for mulching, bagging, ease of use, and maneuverability, and evaluated features that save you time and effort. We also asked more than 13,800 readers to tell us about how reliable they find their mowers.
We found that you don't have to pay top dollar to get a great mower or tractor. However, when shopping for options in the lower price range, spending a little more does make a difference.
Here are a few tips and features to keep in mind:
Look for gas-powered push mowers with same-size front and rear wheels. They tend to be easier to maneuver and tip back for U-turns at the end of a row.
Make sure the mower has a blade-brake clutch so that when you release the handlebar, it’ll stop the blade without cutting off the engine. It’ll make things easier when you stop to empty a full bag of clippings.
If you’re shopping for a lawn tractor, look for a feature called “auto-drive.” With it, the tractor can vary its ground speed quickly and efficiently. Most are now controlled with a pedal rather than a lever and their prices are falling.
It won’t be long before the leaves start falling, and getting a good deal on a leaf blower now could make your autumn easier. Leaf blowers are also handy for clearing sandy decks in the summer or light snow in the winter. Look for a machine that is easy to carry and offers convenient controls.
Decide what kind you need. Gas handheld models are more portable than corded electric blowers, but they’re also heavier and noisier. If you have a lot of leaves and a level property, you’ll get the most power with a walk-behind leaf blower on wheels, but it can be unwieldy and take up a lot of storage space.
Protect your ears. Even the quietest leaf blowers can be deafeningly loud. Purchase hearing protection, and be kind to your neighbors by not using it very early or very late in the day. Some towns limit leaf blowers to certain hours, so check with your municipality for the local rules.
Using a dishwasher to clean your plates and silverware can conserve more water than washing by hand.
Dishwashers with an Energy Star designation are 12 percent more energy-efficient and 30 percent more water-efficient than standard models, which can lead to significant savings on your utility bills.
Today’s dishwashers can fit 12 place settings, and are relatively easy to load. (You can read more in our Dishwasher Buying Guide and link to ratings as well.)
Skip the prerinse. If your dishwasher comes with a soil sensor, prerinsing your dishes may actually leave them dirtier. That’s because the sensor will decide that the dishes are fairly clean already and only give them a light rinse.
Look for flexibility. A model that can be reconfigured as needed can be useful. For example, racks that move up and down and movable silverware holders make it easier to fit large loads or to squeeze in oddly shaped items.
If you’re in the market for ranges, you’ve got your work cut out to find the best one to fit your needs. That’s because there are so many options that one could quickly become overwhelmed. You might come across more than 40 models on a Lowe’s showroom floor or nearly 60 at a typical Sears. Luckily, we’ve tested and rated over 150 types, so that you’ll have all the information you need to make the right selection. Check out the best ranges of 2018 here.
Here are a few key things to consider when looking for the right range:
Size: Most electric and gas ranges are 30 inches wide, which is the size we buy and test. Pro-style ranges usually span 36 inches or more. We test both 30-inch and 36-inch pro-style ranges. The pro-style ranges are stylish, but they aren't the best performing ranges we've tested. Regular ranges now have pro-style and stainless trim, for a lot less money.
Capacity: You don’t want to be stuck with a too-big-for-your-oven turkey on Thanksgiving, so we measure oven space you can actually use in our range ratings. The smallest ovens in our tests are a little more than 2 cubic feet, while the largest are nearly 4 cubic feet.