Savvy shoppers know to look for big discounts on large appliances on holiday weekends. But if you're too busy barbecuing over the Fourth of July to shop, take heart. By taking advantage of special offers and rebates, you can save money anytime, spend less, and end up with a better machine. Here's how to find the deals.

Check the websites of manufacturers and retailers for special offers and rebates, then check our ratings to see if they're a good deal. The offers apply to specific models bought within a certain timeframe, and if there's a rebate, it has to be mailed in or submitted online by the deadline that's spelled out. Bosch, for example, is offering rebates of $35 to $100 for select dishwashers purchased by July 16, and up to $200 off more expensive dishwashers, such as the Bosch 800 Plus SHX8PT55UC, $1,500. The rebate must be submitted by August 15.

Compare price-match policies of your favorite retailers. Best Buy, for example, matches the prices of local competition and major online retailers like Amazon. Home Depot matches the competitor’s price, and then beats it by 10 percent.

Look for holiday sales. "Leading up to the Fourth of July you'll see good sales," says Mark Allwood, a senior market analyst at Consumer Reports. "And if you can wait until November, between Veterans' Day and of course leading up to Black Friday, you'll have more models to choose from and you may save even more." 

Search for utility rebates online at Energy Star, and on the website of your utility company. To receive a rebate, the appliance must be Energy Star qualified. "Dishwashers have the highest rate of qualification," says Bill McNary, a survey statistician for the Energy Information Administration, which is part of the Department of Energy. "Clothes dryers have the lowest rate at 15 percent." In part that's because dryers are new to the Energy Star progam.

Haggle. "It definitely pays to negotiate," says Martin Lachter, a research associate in Consumer Reports' Survey Group. "Most customers shopping for a major appliance don't haggle over the price, but 70 percent of those who do are successful, saving a median of $112 on their purchase. We even find that online shoppers in the market for a major appliance can save money if they're willing to haggle."

Fourth of July Specials

We're seeing some good deals on appliances. Here's a glimpse at the four retailers that ring up the most appliance sales. Each promises up to 40 percent off major appliances, and free delivery when you spend $396 or more.   

• Best Buy offers gift cards valued at $300 to $400 if you buy three or more appliances, and free installation of Bosch dishwashers, the most reliable brand in our survey, according to over 42,000 readers. You'll see many Bosch models in our dishwasher ratings. Shopping for a refrigerator? The high-scoring Samsung RF28HDEDPWW was excellent overall in our tests of French-door models, and made our recommended list. It's usually $2,500, and is on sale for $1,900. It's Energy Star qualified, so a rebate may apply in your area. We've seen rebates of $150. 

• Home Depot says you'll get instant savings if you buy two or more appliances. They range from $50 to $450 off. The LG LFC24770ST French-door refrigerator is a CR Best Buy, combining excellent performance and value, and is usually $1,700. It's on sale for $1,400

• Lowe's promises rebates of $50 to $450 if you buy more than one appliance. In the dishwasher aisle the Whirlpool WDF520PADM is on sale for $300. Plus it's an Energy Star model, so a rebate may apply in your area. 

• Sears has some good deals in the laundry aisle, including the Kenmore 41262 front-loading washer. It's $450, which is inexpensive for a front-loader, and was impressive in our tests. So was its matching electric dryer, the Kenmore 81182. The set is on sale for $900. The LG LFXS24623S French-door refrigerator was $2,700 and is now $1,700. 

Not every appliance on sale is a good deal. So check our ratings to see how a model performed in our tests, and find out more about a brand's reliability, based on our reader surveys.