The ever-shrinking value of the dollar has led many Americans to find creative ways to get the most bang for their buck.
One alternative to purchasing expensive items is to instead rent, lease or time-share. These days, consumers are renting everything from college textbooks, to kids’ toys, to wedding cakes. And, there’s more “green” benefit beyond saving cash.
“Not only is renting cost-effective, it’s becoming increasingly popular as an environmentally-friendly alternative to purchasing an item,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List (www.angieslist.com), the nation’s leading provider of consumer ratings on local service companies, including rental services. “When consumers share products, they’re reducing their carbon footprint by reducing the amount of resources used and waste produced.”
A prime example of an eco-friendly rental concept is the growing trend of car-sharing services. In a recent nationwide survey, 28 percent of Angie’s List members who had rented an item over the past year, utilized such a service.
“In theory, a car-sharing program could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by taking more cars off the road and reducing traffic congestion,” Hicks said. “Also, many of those companies offer newer cars that are hybrids or have more stringent pollution and emission control.”
Renting or leasing equipment also does not require a sizeable initial investment, compared to purchasing. Instead, the cost of using the item often depends on how long or how much it is used.
“You probably wouldn’t buy a car if you were planning to drive only once a year,” Hicks said. “Consumers are learning that there are a variety of rental options that can meet their short-term needs.”
Nearly 30 percent of Angie’s List members leased or rented an item within the past year instead of purchasing it outright, and 90 percent of those respondents consider the short-term transaction a better value than buying.
The effect of the country’s economic downturn appears to be reflected in the rental niche. One in 10 respondents said they would have purchased the item in need outright last year, but rented or leased it this year instead to save money.
The most-rented category in the poll was power tools, with more than one-third of all respondents recently renting an item in that group.
“Renting home-improvement and gardening equipment is a great idea for do-it-yourselfers,” Hicks said. “Many rental stores will also offer advice on how to use the item properly, plus someone else takes on the burden of maintenance and ownership costs.”
Here is a breakdown of the results:
Percentage of Angie’s List members who rented items in specific categories last year:
- Power Tools 34 percent
- Car sharing 28 percent
- Carpet cleaner 17 percent
- Gardening tools 15 percent
- Heavy equipment 11 percent
- Party equipment 10 percent
- Wedding gown/tux 6 percent
- Furniture 3 percent
- Other 17 percent
*1,264 Angie’s List members took our poll. Responses are representative of Angie’s List members, but not the general public.