For Immediate Release – November 11, 2009 - Following the success of the Cash for Clunkers program, the federal government recently announced the creation of a similar rebate program for consumers looking to purchase new energy-efficient appliances. If you are thinking of replacing any appliances, you may be wondering whether to buy now or wait for a future rebate.
The federal government has set aside $300 million from the stimulus package to fund the new cash for appliances program. The intended benefit of the program is two fold. The first goal is to provide another way to stimulate the economy in an industry that has seen a 15 percent drop in sales, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
The second goal is to increase energy efficiency in households by replacing old appliances with newer “greener” ones. According to ENERGYSTAR.gov, the typical household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills but could save over one-third or about $700 per year by making the switch to ENERGY STAR products. In 2008, about 55 percent of new major household appliances had the ENERGY STAR seal.
While final details of the program are yet to be determined, Better Business Bureau offers the following guidance:
How much will the rebate be? Every state must submit a plan that specifies which appliance categories will be included in its own program, the amount of rebates for each appliance and a plan for recycling old appliances. Ohio filed its plan in October, proposing rebates of $100-$150 on most eligible appliances. DOE estimates that consumers should see the rebate programs implemented in the first quarter of 2010.
How long will the rebates be available? The program will have a maximum number of available rebates. Rebates will be issued on a first-come-first-served basis. The State of Ohio is requesting just over $11M in federal dollars, and expects to replace over 89,000 inefficient appliances. Once the funds are used, the rebates will end.
Which appliances will qualify for the rebate? States will decide which ENERGY STAR qualified appliances are eligible for a rebate. Ohio’s plan would provide rebates to purchasers of qualifying refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers, and gas and electric heat pump water heaters.
What about my old appliance? Federal guidelines require that rebates be “….for purchases to replace an existing appliance only.” Ohio’s program will require old appliances to be collected and hauled away for proper disposal and recycling. The details have not yet been determined.
What if I can’t wait? If you can’t wait to purchase a new appliance, you may still be able to take advantage of other programs. The federal government provides tax credits for purchasing energy efficient appliances. Go to www.EnergyStar.gov for a list of items that qualify for tax credits. The ECO-Link Program offered by the Ohio Treasury provides reduced interest on loans to Ohio residents who own a single-family home and receive an approved bank loan that will be used for energy efficiency or renewable energy upgrades. More information can be found at http://ecolink.ohio.gov.
What are the advantages to buying now? In addition to the tax credits and loan options mentioned above, you can start saving money on your monthly utility bills by purchasing more energy-efficient appliances. The ENERGY STAR site (www.EnergyStar.gov) has a calculator to help you estimate your savings.
Stay tuned for updates. You can go to www.development.ohio.gov/recovery/EnergyStarProgram.htm for updates on the Ohio program implementation.
“Whether you buy now or wait for possible rebates, replacing older appliances with more energy efficient models not only helps the environment and provides a small boost to the economy, it also has a positive impact on your bottom line when the energy bills come in” said David Weiss, President of the BBB Serving Greater Cleveland.
For more BBB advice you can trust on how to be a savvy consumer, visit www.cleveland.bbb.org.