Planned Obsolescence

Teresa Roberts
3 min readOct 1, 2022

It’s a Deliberate Design Flaw

45 years ago, I bought my first washer and dryer that lasted for over 25 years (my photo)

Recently, our hot water heater was making a funny sound.

As is often the case, when the plumber came out to take a look, it wouldn’t do a repeat performance. Fortunately, I had recorded the sound on my iPhone. Turns out our hot water heater is about 16 years old. It needs to be replaced.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about my hot water heater.

Well, here’s the deal. James, the plumber, happened to mention that they don’t make hot water heaters any longer like the one that we’re going to soon replace. It’s also rare for new hot water heaters to last for 16 years.


Well according to James it’s because “they” want us to buy a new hot water heater about every 8 to 10 years. It’s called planned obsolescence. It’s not that we don’t have the technology to make things that will last for a long time. Oh no.

We had that technology many years ago and have probably improved upon it.

The reason we don’t use the technology to create appliances that stand the test of time is because manufactures don’t want people to have an appliance that lasts for 25 years. I mention 25 years because when my husband and I were first married we bought a washer and dryer that lasted that long. In fact, when we sold our house our washing machine and dryer were still functioning. I don’t know how much longer they might have served us. We moved across country and didn’t take them with us.

That’s unheard of nowadays.

I find it interesting to note that although we’re more technologically advanced than any time in history, we’re no longer interested in making things that last. There was a time when a brand name carried a coveted and protected good reputation.

Long lasting, durable, tough, dependable, were all words that appeared in advertisements and lived up to the hype.

Oh, and by the way, a new hot water heater isn’t cheap these days either. It may not be built to last, but it is built to drain my pocketbook. In my opinion, if we’re going to do something about pollution, trash, landfills, waste, and climate change, we need to address planned obsolescence.

People need to be buying things that they can use for years to come.

Our technology should be based on developing products that create less waste. I should be able to buy appliances that last for decades by now.

If we could do it 50 years ago, why not now.

Like so many things in modern life, it makes no sense. We accept the situation because we have no idea how to fix the problem. It’s far bigger than little old me and my push for self-reliance. I’ll never be able to influence the big THEY.

My tiny voice will never be heard above the sound of money in the pockets of the real powers that be.

Of course, I’ll get a new hot water heater. There’s even one that is guaranteed to last for a lifetime. One, mind you. If you can afford it, then you might consider buying it. It’s an eye opener to realize that as far back as the 1970s two twenty plus year olds with a baby and almost no money in the bank could buy a washer and dryer that lasted for 25 years. Now, in our modern age of technological wonders, quality appliances are like flying first class.

Many people can’t afford quality, so THEY have designed something different for the rest of us.

Teresa is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.



Teresa Roberts

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.