What You Should Buy In April

pixabatSpringtime means warmer weather, blooming flowers, more sunshine. But it’s also the time of year when allergies flare up as unwanted pollen and dust enter our homes.

This month, retailers offer plenty of deals on products to help you keep the air in your home clean and take care of other chores as well.

Consumer Reports tracks the prices of many products all year long, so we know when they go on deep discount. The products listed below should be available at their lowest annual price in April.

Vacuums/Floor Care Appliances

Before investing in an air purifer, you can reduce indoor air irritants by vacuuming often and thoroughly with a vacuum that has HEPA filtration. If your vacuum is due for an upgrade, you’re in luck. April and May are great times to find discounts on all types of vacuum cleaners.

You’ll find a range of designs, sleek shapes, and cool colors, but what matters most is how well they clean. Look for one that has features that appeal to you, but make sure it fits your cleaning needs as well.

Shopping Tips
Try it out. 
Even if you order online, go to a store first. Push, pull, turn, and lift the vacuum cleaners you’re considering. If an online price is low, see if the store will match it.

Consider the features. Pet owners, take note: Upright and canister vacuum cleaners that excel at regular jobs tested best in show for picking up pet hair. Canister vacuums tend to be quieter as well. Protect bare floors by selecting a vacuum with a switch that can deactivate the brush.

“Consumers looking for additional savings could check coupon/promotion websites like RetailMeNot and even Groupon for coupons, as well as retail websites, which will often offer an additional percentage off via email sign-up,” says Kelly Moomey, Consumer Reports senior market analyst. “The main pain point is the brand exclusions in the fine print, so consumers should be aware of this.”

Lawn Mowers & Tractors

The best sales on lawn mowers and tractors happen at the beginning and the end of the season. So with mowing season just around the corner, this is the time to find deep discounts.

Generally, mowers cost anywhere from $100 for a bare-bones manual reel mower to $4,000 for a fancy riding lawn mower tractor.

Shopping Tips
Don’t pay for more power than you need.
 It can be tempting to spring for a pricey tractor with lots of bells and whistles, but if your yard is less than a half-acre, a basic gas or electric push mower, or even a motorless reel mower, is all you need. For larger (or hilly) lawns, you’ll probably want a self-propelled push mower or ride-on tractor.

Mind your mulch. We rate mowers for mulching, which helps return nutrients to your lawn and is a handy feature for fall leaf cleanup. If you usually have an abundance of leaves, however, a leaf blower will be faster; check our ratings for recommended models.

Mower maintenance matters. A dull blade won’t cut well. Once each season, sharpen your mower’s blade. Or try replacing the blade, rather than buying a brand-new mower.

Air Purifiers

Consumer Reports tested dozens of portable air purifiers and whole-house air filters that use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) or similar filters to clean the air.

The very best portable models we tested were effective at cleaning the air of dust, smoke, and pollen at their highest and lowest speed and can help people with asthma and allergy symptoms. The worst models weren’t very effective at any speed.

Pros: Most room air purifiers weigh from 10 to 20 pounds, have a handle, and stand on the floor or on a table, while heavier models might have wheels.

Many have a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which can capture ultrafine particles.

Cons: Portable models that use either electrostatic-precipitator or ionizer technology could produce some ozone, a lung irritant. The State of California banned the sale of ozone generators (and other air purifiers that emit more than 50 parts per billion of ozone) from the general market.

Prices: Range from $50 to more than $1,000.

Pressure Washers

Before making any decisions about a big home improvement purchase, make sure that your dull siding isn’t just suffering from a bad case of mildew or that your oil-stained driveway isn’t simply in need of a good wash.

Pressure washers can tackle tough jobs in a fraction of the time would take using a brush and bucket, and if you want to invest in a pressure washer, you’ll find the best deals in April.

Shopping Tips
Cover your bases. 
If you need to use soaps, solvents, or other additives, consider one that has a built-in soap tank. Tool and cord storage is a plus, as are wheels for heavier models.

Rent one instead. Buying a unit will pay for itself in a few years, as long as you take care of it. But if you want to skip the hassle of upkeep and storage, you can always rent a power washer instead.

Windows

April is also a great month to find deep discounts on new windows for your home, which can enhance its curb appeal while making your home quieter and less drafty. It can also save money on your energy bill, though it usually takes years to recoup the cost of replacing your windows.

Energy Star certified windows, for example, can lower your energy bill by an average of 12 percent. That’s only $27 to $111 per year for a 2,000-square-foot, single-story home with storm or double-pane windows. You can save more—$126 to $465—if you are replacing single-pane windows, according to Energy Star. But it could take decades to recoup the $8,000 to $24,000 you’ll probably spend on new windows and installation for such a home.

Shopping Tips
Consider partial replacement units. 
If your existing frames and sills are in good shape, you’ll save money on materials and labor by using partial replacement units or “pocket replacements” that fit into the existing frames.

Find a good installer. Using the same contractor for purchase and installation can minimize the chances of problems arising later. Look online for certification from the American Window and Door Institute or InstallationMasters—and get multiple bids specifying installation details, labor, and material costs.

There are also deals to be had on roofing and siding, according to Consumer Reports analysts. So if you’re in the market for home improvement, now might be the time to make some big-ticket purchases to spruce up your house.

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