Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cash-For-Clunkers Rebates For Appliances

(Excerpt from RST, 3/4/10)

Cash-for-Clunkers Rebates Offered on New Appliances

Three dozen states are launching programs in March and April to distribute almost $300 million in rebates to consumers buying energy-efficient appliances.

The federally funded programs, similar to the cash-for-clunkers auto rebate program last year, are intended to improve energy efficiency and stimulate the economy. Rebates differ by state and appliance.

Eight states launched programs in February, including New York, which offered $50 to $75 rebates on refrigerators, washers and freezers. On opening weekend, "There were people waiting outside every store to get started," said Doug Moore, president of appliances for Sears, which opened early to meet demand.

New York's $18.7 million program was set to expire at the end of February but was extended because millions remained. "It's been a boon to consumers and retailers," said Francis Murray, CEO of the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority.

Michigan launched its program Feb. 10. It expects it'll take four months to distribute the $9 million in rebates, said Stephanie Epps, appliance analyst for the Michigan Bureau of Energy Systems. "The weak economy has a lot to do with it," Epps said.

Some states started programs earlier. Each state sets the rules and dates of their programs. Oregon and Kansas require applicants to be low income. Alaska has reserved rebates for people with disabilities.

To qualify for rebates, consumers must buy Energy Star appliances, which meet energy standards set by the federal government and are up to 30% more efficient than standard models, Murray said.

Many states offer rebates for refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and water heaters, Moore says. Some states are more restrictive. Many offer extra rebates if consumers recycle old appliances. Rebates are largely first come, first served. In Michigan, consumers can reserve rebates, then buy and apply, Epps said.

The Department of Energy provides information on each state's program at this site.(Source: USA Today, 02/23/10)

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