You might think that because you faithfully compare prices online before buying, download coupons to your phone, and watch for deep discounts on yesterday's inventory as new models appear in stores, you're getting the best deals you possibly can.
Still, sales for some products go by the calendar. Consumer Reports' product-research experts, who track prices all year long, have compiled a list of items that are typically discounted most deeply in February.
Want to know what's on sale the rest of the year? Check our calendar of deals.
–Mandy Walker (@MandyWalker on Twitter)
The moving hand grips and adjustable resistance on an elliptical machine allow you to turn cardiovascular exercise into a full-body workout.
Consider your workout intensity The more expensive ellipticals in our Ratings tend to feel more solid, operate more smoothly, and have more features than the under-$1,000 models. You might also get superior ergonomics, a wide range of features, and a more generous warranty.
Beware of trials A "30-day money-back guarantee" sounds good, but returning the product might not be easy. Some of the machines are heavy or bulky, and you might have to pay for return shipping, which could cost $90 or more. Before signing up for a trial, verify with the company the proper return address and how soon you can expect a refund if you send the device back. A scan of online complaints about home fitness equipment revealed that reported problems with returns, including lack of a valid return address or exorbitant shipping charges, were common.
Whether you want to shop online or purchase a machine from the store, be sure to try it out in person first. You might notice a problem that you couldn't detect by sight or reviews alone. For more shopping tips and product information, check our elliptical buying guide.
Furniture is on sale this month because stores need to make way for new lines that will arrive after the spring High Point Market (April 18 to 23 this year).
Where you shop makes a difference. Catalog retailers, for example, have been around for several years, sometimes as an adjunct to a chain of stores. Mass-market retailers, including Ikea, Value City, and Walmart, tend to stress price. Expect a fairly limited fabric selection on upholstered furniture.
Size up upholstered furniture like an expert. Follow these steps with floor samples and again when the furniture is delivered, to be sure that the piece from the warehouse matches what you saw in the store.
'Tis the season: Find out how you can save on filing your taxes this month.
A humidifier can relieve itchy eyes, sore throat, and cracked skin by adding moisture to dry, heated air.
Before you buy, check the features. A humidistat—if it's accurate—can help you maintain relative humidity between the optimal levels of 30 percent to 50 percent.
Put substance over style. Models resembling a radio can liven up your decor but their output might be too low for the area you need to humidify. Some models with a touch of whimsy, however—like the owl model from Crane (shown)—also delivered on performance.
A piece of home exercise equipment can be a big purchase, as our tests of treadmills show. Our top-rated nonfolding treadmill costs a cool $3,800. Spending that much can get you sturdier construction, better hardware, and more features. But you can get a decent machine that provides a great workout for less than a third of that price.
Consider the size. Most treadmills are about 6.5 feet by 3 feet. Folding treadmills are about half the length when folded. Don't assume that because you buy a folding treadmill you'll actually fold and stow it. If that feature is important, try folding the machine before buying to see how easy it is to do and whether folding makes it easier to store. You'll also need adequate space--about two feet on each side and the back--to get on and off safely.
Think about assembly. A treadmill can weigh up to 400 pounds, so ask about delivery and check whether assembly is included or available at an additional cost. It might be worth it if you're not particularly good with a toolbox. It generally takes our experienced engineers about 1 to 2 hours to put together a treadmill, depending on the number of steps. Lifting heavy parts, adding applying grease, and working on your knees are part of the process. Some of the steps require two people.
Our treadmill Ratings include dozens of models that we evaluated on construction, ease of use, ergonomics, exercise range, and safety. Our treadmill buying guide has information on different types and brands, features to look for, and other shopping tips.
Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2015 Consumers Union of U.S.