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8 products on deep discount in January

Consumer Reports’ lab tests and shopping tips help you find what you want—and what to avoid

File photo of treadmill
File photo of treadmill (Ferre' Dollar/CNN)

With a little planning and patience, you may never have to pay full price for anything. Sales take place throughout the year, but some months and holidays are better for finding deep discounts on certain items. If you happen to currently be in the market for a new TV, a sound bar for that TV, fitness equipment, bedding, an oven, or a humidifier, January is one of the best months to keep an eye out for sales.

When it comes to other items, other months may bring more savings. For instance, if you’re in the market for a mattress, wait until President’s Day next month or Labor Day in September to score the biggest savings. Air conditioners, on the other hand, are cheapest in May and September.

If you want to know what’s on sale the rest of the year, check Consumer Reports’ calendar of deals.

Televisions

If you didn’t find the TV you wanted on sale during the holidays, the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl are a great time to find more discounts at almost any store that sells them. This year, the game will be played on Sunday, Feb. 2, making the last few weeks of January the perfect time to shop and get ready for the big game.

It pays to do some research before heading to the store, because there are countless options available. You’ll need to decide whether you want an OLED or a QLED or an LCD screen. Determining the best size for your space will also help narrow your options. And once you’ve found a few potential models, you can get a better sense of what to expect in terms of pricing so you can make an informed choice that fits your lifestyle and budget.

Consider the size. In general, we think most consumers are best served by high-definition TVs that have a screen that's at least 40 to 42 inches. A 46- or 50-inch set is often preferable in rooms where you’ll be sitting 8 to 10 feet or so from the screen. You may want an even bigger set for more spacious family rooms.

If you’re buying a newer Ultra High Definition TV, also called a 4K TV, it will have a screen resolution of 8 million pixels, or four times the number of individual pixels as an HD set. The benefits of a 4K TV are more apparent in larger screen sizes—say, 65 inches and above—or when you’d like to sit closer to it.

There are plenty of highly rated makes and models in CR’s ratings from brands such as LG, Samsung, and Sony, whether you’re looking for a big screen, something smaller, a high-definition picture, or smart features.

CR’s TV buying guide will help you get the most bang for your buck no matter how much you want to spend. Paid members should consult CR’s TV ratings to make sure you get a set that performed well in CR’s lab tests.

Sound Bars

Whether you’re buying a new TV or you want to make the one you have sound better, sound bars offer a great upgrade option. They're much easier to set up than traditional surround sound systems with three or more different speakers, and you can add more speakers to many models if you want to expand later.

January is proving to be a great time to save on these increasingly popular devices as retailers make room for new inventory. You may be able to find discounts at major retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart, or member-exclusive deals at BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club.

Most sound bars are long, thin enclosures that are mounted on a wall or placed on a shelf above or below the TV. There are also pedestal-style devices called sound bases that can serve as a base for a TV.

To help you decide which is the right one for you, check out CR’s sound bar buying guide and see which models we recommend.

Treadmills

Treadmills are the most popular workout machines in the U.S., and there’s an option for every budget and fitness goal. That can make choosing one complicated.

The key is to find a machine that’s durable, comfortable, and easy to use. Try one out in a store before making a purchase, and read CR’s treadmill buying guide to familiarize yourself with the available options. To learn more about the ones we consider top-notch, check out CR’s treadmill ratings.

Look to big box retailers like Walmart and Amazon and sporting goods stores like Dick's for sales on fitness equipment. And be sure to see if the manufacturers are offering any ways to save as well.

Ellipticals

Elliptical exercisers are part stair climber, part cross-country ski machine. Unlike a treadmill, which allows you to move free-form, an elliptical limits your movement. That’s why it’s especially important to test out the machines in a store before you buy one.

CR’s elliptical buying guide and elliptical ratings will help you select a machine with the quality and features you want. Once you’ve selected the ideal model, you can shop around for the best discounts. As with treadmills, you’ll have the most luck scoring a deal at major retailers or buying direct from manufacturers.

Humidifiers

As the temperatures drop and we crank up the heat in our homes, the air we breathe becomes drier, which can lead to chapped skin, nosebleeds, and sore throats. This is a good time of year to find humidifiers on deep discount.

When shopping for a humidifier, you can choose between two types: warm mist and cool mist. Warm mist humidifiers essentially boil water and emit a warm vapor into the air. Cool mist humidifiers like the highly rated Vicks V5100NS use a variety of methods to create a cool vapor without boiling water.

In addition to deciding on the type of humidifier to buy, there are a few other things to consider. For instance, you’ll probably want to look for a model that’s easy to move and clean. And if you want to run the unit for long periods of time, you might need one with a shut-off timer or a humidistat that shuts it off if the humidity gets too high (or else your windows can fog up).

Make sure to check CR’s buying guide, ratings, and recommendations before you start shopping so that you have the information you need to make the best product choice.

Bedding

The new year is a chance to start fresh, and many retailers will hold white sales where they offer big discounts on bedding, including sheets and pillows. These winter sales, made famous by department store owner John Wanamaker, have been used since the turn of the century as a way to boost sales.

These sales provide a great chance to replace worn-out bedding. Check out CR’s sheet buying guide to determine what material and thread count you should look for, and browse CR’s top-rated pillows to find the right fit for your sleeping needs.

You can find discounts on linens and pillows at many major retailers. This year, we’re already seeing sales of up to 70 percent off at Pottery Barn, Sears, Wayfair, and West Elm. Keep a watchful eye at other places you like to shop for more ways to save on refreshing your linen closet.

Wall Ovens

If you’re in the midst of a kitchen renovation (or planning one) and looking to upgrade your appliances, January is an excellent time to look for a new oven. This is especially true if you're considering a wall oven, which offers lots of flexibility that you won’t find in a range and may be available at significant discounts this month. Because most wall ovens are electric, they can be installed on just about any wall in your kitchen and at any height, so you won’t have to bend over when pulling out hot, heavy dishes.

If you spend a lot of time cooking, you may want to consider a double oven. Or perhaps you’re in the market for one with a convection mode to reduce cook times, or variable broil to cook with even more precision.

All of these options are out there, making it paramount to research before you buy. Purchasing any major appliance, especially an oven, is a big decision, and we recommend reading CR’s buying guide and exploring CR’s ratings and recommendations before you choose a model. Doing the research is essential to ensuring you’re satisfied with your new wall oven.

Wall ovens typically range from $850 to upward of $6,000, but keep an eye out for sales at major retailers like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Best Buy, AppliancesConnection, AJ Madison, Sears, and Walmart.

Bathroom Scales

Today’s digital scales track more than just your weight—they also offer additional information, such as your body-fat percentage. Some even connect to your phone, fitness tracker, and other smart devices for easier data tracking. You'll often pay more for such features, so it’s important to decide what you want before you start shopping.

CR isn’t currently testing bathroom scales, but you can check out CR’s buying guide to see whether extra features are worth the added cost. According to CR’s testers, weight measurements are consistent and accurate across most digital scales, but body-fat measurements aren’t.