New study details how much families can save when they repair instead of replace electronics

Media Contacts
Alex DeBellis

Josh Chetwynd

U.S. PIRG shows how fixing electronics instead could save households $40 billion nationwide


BOSTON — With home electronics in heavy use during the ongoing pandemic, U.S. PIRG released a report Wednesday detailing just how much families can save by repairing electronic products instead of replacing them. Entitled “Repair Saves Families Big,” this new analysis, which was produced in conjunction with the organization’s Right to Repair campaign, also looks at spending habits and the importance of a strong repair economy.

Specifically, American households could save $330 per year by repairing our electronics on our own or going to independent repair shops, according to the report’s analysis. This adds up to a total annual savings of about $40 billion across the country. These numbers may seem staggering, but so is how much we spend on new devices. As of 2019, American households spend approximately $1,480 annually purchasing new electronic products.

“Repair provides us with an opportunity to breathe new life into our old and broken devices,” said Alex DeBellis, an associate with U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign. “Instead of buying new gadgets every time our old ones give us trouble, we should turn to our communities to meet our repair needs. This approach is what’s best for both our society and our pocketbooks.”

Repair is good for our pocketbooks, but it’s even better for our planet. When we prematurely replace our electronics, we unnecessarily retire our old devices to landfills where they can leak such toxic heavy chemicals as lead, mercury and cadmium. With American families generating about 176 pounds of electronic waste each year, Americans are big contributors to the fastest growing waste stream in the world.

Opting for repair is also vital because it can be done efficiently and cost-effectively through neighbor repair shops.

“Many consumers are shocked to find out that many repairs can be done in under 30 minutes and cost a fraction of the price of a new device,” said Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of The Repair Association. “The biggest limitation on the costs of repair compared with replacement is access to parts on fair and reasonable terms. Local shops can easily do the work quickly and efficiently if they are allowed to compete.”

By seeking out neighborhood repair shops, households also support the local economy. Rather than looking to overseas manufacturers to carry out repairs, an increased reliance on local repair businesses can provide jobs for community members, decrease the out-of-pocket cost of repair, and increase the speed of service.

“For every repair you need, there is a local business willing and able to fulfill it in a timely manner,” Gordon-Byrne said. “Greater demand for local repair services not only supports our local communities, but creates an incentive for manufacturers to make products that are more repairable and last longer.”

Repair is critical to keeping our electronic products functional without breaking our budgets. Unfortunately, manufacturers often elbow out independent repair by limiting access to the tools, parts and manuals we need to repair our devices, the report explains. In doing this, the capacity to create resilient communities, which can quickly recover from global disruptions, is limited.

“We’ve spoken to many repair shop owners who have been forced to turn away customers because they did not have the correct tools or parts,” DeBellis added. “These devices could have been easily repaired if manufacturers committed to what’s best for customers, local businesses and our communities.”

Read the Report: Repair Saves Families Big